Disputes with Car Dealers: What Are My Options?

Last updated on February 20, 2024

Buying a car is a milestone for many people, and the process of doing so is largely uneventful. However, misrepresentation and fraud can sometimes occur when an unscrupulous car dealer is determined to make a sale. What then, are the avenues for redress available to an aggrieved buyer in Singapore? This article provides a general overview to some options that are available in the event of a dispute with a car dealer.

Seek Redress from the Motor Industries Disputes Resolution Centre (MIDReC)

First, you may try to seek redress from the Motor Industries Dispute Resolution Centre (MIDReC). Going through MIDReC is possibly the cheapest and most hassle-free way to resolve the dispute.

The catch is that the motor vehicle dealer you are dealing with has to have the CASE-SVTA accreditation. The CASE-SVTA accreditation scheme was jointly launched by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) and the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association (SVAT), and aims to ensure high business standards. Under the scheme, a car dealer is also contractually obliged to accept the decision reached at MIDReC.

Stage 1: Mediation

The first stage at MIDReC is mediation, where parties are given an opportunity to reach a settlement on their own.

Stage 2: Adjudication

If no settlement can be reached, the second stage is adjudication. An adjudicator at MIDReC will rule on the matter. Because this is a relatively simple 2-stage dispute resolution process, it may be wise to make purchases from a CASE-SVAT-accredited car dealer.

Submit a Complaint with The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE)

CASE is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that handles consumer-to-business disputes. Consumers can submit a complaint with CASE to negotiate with the businesses and work towards an amicable settlement for a small fee.

The complaint resolution is relatively straightforward.

Step 1: Submit your complaint

The first step is to submit an online complaint. After submitting an online complaint, CASE officers will assess your situation and advise you on the appropriate next steps during a consultation.

Step 2: Assisted scheme or filed scheme

After the initial consultation, you can choose to be on the assisted case scheme or file a case. Do note that you may be required to pay a small fee with either option.

Assisted Scheme
CASE will help you draft a letter to the car dealer to communicate your grievance and your ideal outcome. You will have to deliver this letter personally to the car dealer in question, and CASE will not follow up on the dispute on your behalf.

File a case
For CASE Members our Consumer Relations Officer will correspond with the retailer on your behalf to work towards an amicable resolution.

Should the matter reach a stalemate, our officer will advise you on your available options, such as mediation, escalating the case to the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) or other legal recourse.

——————–

Please note that the options set out above are not exhaustive, and we strongly recommended seeking legal advice from a lawyer to explore other possible avenues of recourse that might be available to you. A lawyer would be able to assess the merits of your case and advice you on the best approach to take to get your desired outcome. You can kickstart your search for a lawyer here.

Legal and Contractual Rights When Making a Purchase
  1. Price Transparency Guidelines by CCCS (With Examples)
  2. Your Consumer Rights in Singapore and How to Get Recourse
  3. Can silence amount to acceptance of a contract?
  4. Unfair Contract Terms Act: UCTA in Singapore
  5. When Can I Void a Contract For Misrepresentation?
  6. Making Lemon Law Claims for Defective Items in Singapore
  7. Hire-Purchase Agreement: Your Rights and Repossession of Goods in Singapore
Buying a Car in Singapore
  1. Consumer Rights in Singapore
  2. Buying a Car in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide
  3. Disputes with Car Dealers: What Are My Options?
F&B-related Matters
  1. Food Poisoning in Singapore: Who Can I Sue?
  2. Do I have to pay the 10% service charge in restaurants?
  3. Can I refuse to pay restaurants for lousy food or service?
  4. “Certified Organic” Food in Singapore: What Does It Mean?
Online Purchases
  1. Buyer Beware! What to Do If You are a Retail Scam Victim
Specific Consumer Matters
  1. Is It Legal to Own Gold Bars or Bullions in Singapore?
  2. Victim of Hard Selling Sales Tactics in Singapore: What to Do
  3. Misled by an Advertisement? Here’s What You Can Do
  4. Missing Parcel? Here’s What You Can Do
  5. Delayed or Missing Baggage While Travelling? Here's What You Can Do
  6. What Can I Do If a Shop Vendor Sells Me a Grossly Overpriced Product?
  7. What Can You Do if You Were Sold a Defective Product in Singapore?
  8. Counterfeit Goods: Is it Illegal to Sell or Buy Them in Singapore?
  9. How to Get Back Your Money from a Company That’s Closing Down in Singapore
  10. Is Ticket Scalping Legal in Singapore? Risks Faced by Buyers/Sellers
  11. Am I liable for the charges if my credit card is stolen?
  12. I pawned a piece of jewellery to a pawnshop. What are my rights as a pawner?