A consumer must pay $20,000 more for his new vehicle

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The auto industry is on track to produce 3.6 million fewer vehicles than expected in 2022. Many buyers will not receive the one they ordered. Worse still: they will sometimes have to pay a few thousand dollars more if they still plan to buy the same vehicle over the next few months.

For about a year, the Association for the Protection of Motorists (APA) has counted « hundreds of cases » of buyers who have put their names on the waiting list of their dealership, even entrusting them with a deposit of up to 1,000 $, and who these days find themselves with their beaks in the water. Manufacturers are producing vehicles for the year 2023. Reservations for 2022 no longer hold water.

“We get calls every day from people who are told they will have to pay hundreds of dollars more to get their vehicle,” Ms.e Hubert Lamontagne, legal advisor for the APA. “The problem is that they don’t have much choice to pay. They are presented with a fait accompli: if they refuse to pay more now, they will have to pay even more later. »

It was this risk of having to pay even more than he did on the spot that convinced Elliot (we use a fictitious first name to protect the identity of the buyer who is considering legal action against the seller ) to shell out about $20,000 more than expected for a 2023 Ram ProMaster. escape from the city.

Under an agreement between the Fédération québécoise de camping et de caravaning (FQCC) giving its members access to wholesale prices from Fiat Chrysler Canada (now Stellantis Canada), it benefited from a reduced price of $7,150 per the manufacturer. The agreed selling price at that time was $46,000.

The vehicle was never delivered. The 2021 and 2022 ProMasters have all sold out, and the seller eventually offered Elliot a 2023 model. In the meantime, the proposed price has changed. Among other new costs, the new version of the vehicle costs at least $7,000 more. In addition, the agreement between Stellantis Canada and the FQCC was reviewed in 2022, and the rebate was lowered to $850. The total bill was $20,000 more than the price originally heard.

“Gone there, what are my recourses? asks the buyer in an interview at To have to. “The seller told me that if I didn’t accept, he would find another client. On the advice of the APA, he bought the vehicle at the asking price and then had it written on the sales contract that he intended to contest it, probably before the small claims court, even if the limit of complaints there is $15,000.

« I can at least get that $15,000 back, » he said with a sigh.

Towards collective action?

In Quebec, the Consumer Protection Act is clear on this: the buyer should be entitled to obtain the price agreed upon at the outset. Manufacturers do not care, despite the intervention of the Consumer Protection Office. During the summer, he had to remind consumers of the rights of consumers and the obligations of merchants.

“Although consumer rights are generally established in law, the presence in certain contracts of unfair or illegal clauses can lead to litigation,” recalled the provincial body. He specifies that, even if the consumer can most of the time withdraw from his reservation, “the merchant, on the other hand, is bound to respect the agreement. If he does not deliver within the promised time or if he offers a different vehicle, the consumer can claim damages from him”.

Since for two years no one in the industry has been able to predict exactly how many vehicles will be produced and then marketed in Canada, no manufacturer is following the law in this matter, says the APA, with the exception of Tesla, which sets its prices differently than the rest of the industry, and Rivian, an electric truck brand that is just entering the market.

Consequence: consumers end up paying more than expected. Typically, it’s a few hundred dollars more to shell out, with the differences between a 2022 model and a 2023 not being that big. In these cases, the APA considers it easier to absorb the surcharge, which is likely to be cheaper and faster than starting the shopping process over from the beginning.

There are still cases where the amount demanded is a few thousand dollars higher than that initially planned. Me Hubert Lamontagne cites the example of buyers who had to pay $2,000 to $4,000 more for the purchase of small station wagons, such as a gasoline-powered Subaru Crosstrek or an all-electric Volkswagen ID.4.

In these cases, the motorists’ advocacy organization says it’s best to pay, even if it means making clear your intention to take legal action later. “Our advice is to absorb a small increase, but if it is a few thousand dollars, there is probably room for recourse afterwards,” says Ms.e The mountain.

A class action, also linked to a price increase but which occurred in the recreational vehicle market in 2022, was also presented in court last year by BGA Avocats, a Quebec firm specializing in this type of litigation. If enough consumers unhappy to pay their highest price for their new car come forward, it could convince a law firm to go further and bring such an action in turn, concludes the APA.

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