Bike Buyer Guru: Corrupt dealers – a worrying trend, or the new SA?
Craig Langton has quite the CV. Here at The Bike Show we refer to him as King Midas because, as you might’ve guessed, everything he touches turns to gold. Apart from previous businesses that were massively successful under his watch, he is the owner of Fire It Up in Fourways and within a year of opening its doors it has become the biggest selling motorcycle dealer in the country by a long way. Much of this is down to good honest hard work by him and his team, but much of it also has to do with decades of dealing in motorcycles, spotting trends and noticing nuances. Craig will be passing on much of this knowledge to our esteemed readers in his regular Bike Buyer Guru column. Herewith this week’s column:
After numerous articles on how to sell your motorcycle I have warned of the dangers of selling privately and highlighted the benefits. I have often suggested that you should partner with a trusted dealer and let them manage the trade-in and finance if applicable. However, there is a new corrupt business or dealer trend that has become very worrying.
Recently I spoke about selling your bike on a ‘consignment’ basis or ‘park and sell’ and the precautions that should be taken in terms of insurance etc. A very worrying trend that customers are making me aware of is that once their bike has been sold or traded-in with a dealer the customer is not being paid or the bank settled. I have had six customers approach me for advice recently where they have found themselves in the following position with corrupt dealers:
- Customers left their motorcycles for sale on a well-known dealer’s floor and once their motorcycle had been sold and after two months of excuses and promises the dealer was still unable to pay the customer in full sighting cash flow problems. Customers had even spoken to the new owners of the motorcycles who acknowledged that they had paid the dealer in full.
- Customer traded-in his motorcycle with a reputable dealer on a new motorcycle, after some time he noticed that the motorcycle he had traded in had not been settled and the bank was still taking their instalments. When the customer contacted the dealer, it appears they did not have the cash flow to settle his bike and suggested that he either collect it or leave it on consignment to sell.
- A customer’s motorcycle was crashed on a test ride and the dealer remarked ‘did you not see the sign’. The corrupt dealer refused to take accountability for the damage.
- Dealer closed, and now the customer is having hassles claiming his bike from the liquidators.
The fact that SA businesses or dealers behave in this cottupt way, using customers money to finance their business, behaving unethically, perhaps knowing that they will probably get away with it might be a new South African business trend? Is the popular saying true that the ‘fish’ rots from the head down true in the way that business/dealers in SA have also become corrupted? I’ll let you answer that one.
I’m certainly not qualified to offer legal advice except that to say that you cannot simply report your motorcycle stolen if you gave the dealer permission to sell it with the original registration/Natis papers. I would rather give advice on what you should do to protect yourself from becoming a victim:
- Ask the potential dealer to make you an immediate cash offer for your motorcycle which should be 7% to 10% less than the ‘consignment’ depending on their business model or stock profile. If they are not able to purchase your motorcycle this could be a possible warning sign.
- Most importantly do not release your Natis/Registration/Ownership Papers until you have been paid in full. You can supply the dealer with a certified copy for their records if required. Most dealers will request the originals before they make payment and obviously this can be done simultaneously.
- Make sure that you have written confirmation that your motorcycle is comprehensively insured whilst on the dealer’s floor. Your insurer might not pay a claim if your bike was for sale on a dealer’s floor and damaged or worse stolen.
- Choose a busy dealer that has a good amount of stock/customers as this probably indicates they have a healthy cash flow.
- Do your research on social media and ask around the biking community including forums and you will quickly establish if you are making the right decision.
- If your motorcycle if financed ask for proof of settlement and call the bank to confirm remembering that it takes around five working days for the banks to confirm that your account has been paid and settled in full.
- Fortunately, there are many fantastic dealers to choose from in SA but as the economy becomes more difficult and cash flow tighter it’s important to do your homework first.
I am not sure how many of you remember that in 2010 a popular motorcycle and car dealer was actually exposed by Carte Blanche for selling customers vehicles on consignment and not paying clients while the owners of business were rolling the cash to fund their lifestyle and or business.
As always, any advice offered is for informative purposes only, please do your own research and take care out there.