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Zodiac Motor Co fined $105,000 for false AA claims

Monday 12th December 2016

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Car dealer Zodiac Motor Company in Auckland has been fined $105,000 after pleading guilty to charges brought by the Commerce Commission over falsely claiming its cars were appraised by the Automobile Association.

The company's sole director, Nezam Anwer, has made undertakings to pay any of the fine the company doesn't cover, the commission said.

In Manukau District Court, the dealership pleaded guilty to six charges under the Fair Trading Act related to false representations over the course of a year that vehicles it was selling were AA appraised, and that it was an AA Appraised used vehicle dealer, which it was not. Zodiac continued advertising itself as an appraised used vehicle dealer even after it knew AA had cancelled its membership.

"In March 2015 Zodiac aired 151 radio advertisements stating 'all cars are AA appraised' when Zodiac was not able to obtain AA appraisals for its vehicles as it was no longer an AA Appraised Used Dealer," the commission said. 

“Zodiac provided consumers with a measure of comfort that the vehicle they were considering purchasing had been inspected by an impartial, reliable body – when it hadn’t,” commissioner Anna Rawlings said. "Purchasing an unreliable vehicle can cause a lot of stress and many consumers take steps to avoid that. Most consumers are not in a position to make their own safety and mechanical assessments of a vehicle so traders must ensure representations about the condition of a vehicle and any inspections are accurate."

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