March 24th, 2019

Local car dealer has sales licence suspended

By Collin Gallant on July 12, 2018.

The Autos R Less lot on 10th Avenue SW in Medicine Hat is empty five days after the company's dealership licence was suspended by an industry regulator that claims vehicles were sold to customers with outstanding liens.--NEWS PHOTO COLLIN GALLANT

More than a dozen second-hand car buyers in Medicine Hat could be out about $500,000 combined, according to an industry watchdog that suspended the licence of local dealer Autos R Less.

A provincial licensing body says the new, used and consignment dealer knowingly sold vehicles subject to repossession orders by other parties.

The Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council says it knows of 21 cases in which vehicles sold at the dealership, located in the Southwest Industrial area, but were the subject of outstanding liens.

Such debts are placed on a title to ensure loans, most often for the car itself, are paid by the current owner, no matter who signed the loan.

The value of liens on cars already repossessed total $480,000, an AMVIC spokesperson told the News on Tuesday, and more files are being opened as customers get in touch following the licence suspension, which was ordered July 6.

“The investigation is ongoing,” says Cathy Housdorff, of AMVIC.

“It’s significant (the amount). We’ve found that since we issued the release, there’s been a significant increase in the number of calls from people who have had transactions with Autos R Less. We’re looking into those as well, so it’s possible there could be more.”

The dealership at 1702 10th Ave. SW was closed on Tuesday. A person who answered the phone number for the dealership told the News the business was closed, but did not provide a name or further information.

The dealership had operated in Medicine Hat for a number of years, but sources say an ownership change took place in the past few. The News could not confirm Tuesday who owns the business.

AMVIC is the provincial licensing body for car dealers in Alberta. It has the authority to issue further fines or a recommend criminal charges.

The July 6 order states the new, used and consignment dealer won’t be allowed to operate until an investigation proves it can operate at no risk to the consumer.

AMVIC states it is “best practice” for dealers to extinguish liens before resale, then recuperating those costs in a new sales price.

Consumers should always obtain a vehicle information report from an Alberta registry office before purchasing, said Housdorff.

“It’s one thing we advise consumers to educate themselves when they buy a used vehicle,” said Housdorff

“It costs about $20 and is well worth it. If there’s a lien on it, the vehicle could be seized and you could pay for a vehicle that you don’t have anymore. Not everyone is paying them out, unfortunately.”

Anyone who has made a recent purchase at Autos R Less Corp., or a representative of that firm, can contact AMVIC’s consumer services at toll free 1-877-979-8100 ext. 2002, during business hours.

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