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Car buyers better protected

Media release - Hon Judith Tizard, Minister of Consumer Affairs

Car buyers better protected

New Zealand car buyers are now better protected says a report released today by Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard.

The Motor Vehicle Sales legislation (MVSA) changed the way car sales are regulated to ensure consumers' interests are promoted and protected. It requires unlicensed car dealers to be registered; spells out what vehicle and trader information needs to be disclosed, and set up a new disputes process. It also required the Ministry to review operations after two years.

"I am pleased the report confirms that the new system is operating well and that New Zealand car buyers are getting a better deal."

"Compliance levels have been higher than expected."

"Over 3000 traders have registered, which has exceeded our expectations. We want people who are selling six cars - or importing three - a year, to be signed up and operating within this framework. Consumers can then identify and seek redress against rogue traders who give the industry a bad name."

"Consumer awareness of the supplier information notice (SIN) system, commonly known as the window card, is also increasing. It provides important information for consumers about the vehicle, the trader and consumer's rights.

"The Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal has created a sound dispute resolution process. More consumers have access to it than before and claims are being resolved quickly."

Based on the report, the Ministry is proposing to shift the focus from educating traders to increased monitoring and enforcement. It will also focus on the lack of compliance by less visible traders like car market operators, car fair traders and those selling over the internet.

"We'll also be working with industry and stakeholders to review and simplify the supplier information notice (SIN) system, to make it an even more effective tool."

"We want consumers to be better informed about their rights when buying a car. We'll be considering options like a one-stop shop for consumers to get information, or make a complaint."

In May the Ministry will release a discussion paper on information disclosure and the window card system. And in October a further discussion paper will be released about proposals to fine-tune the legislation.

"I encourage industry, stakeholders and consumers to use these opportunities to have their say."

A copy of the Review of the operation of the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 is available from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (phone 04 474 2750) or at www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/policylawresearch/mvsa-review/

ENDS

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