TADA advocates for off-site vehicle transactions

Since the spread of COVID-19, Ontario new car dealers have made sweeping changes to their operations in compliance with health and safety regulations.

While dealers have done an incredible job complying with these regulations, evolving business realities and consumer expectations have been rapidly changing. That’s why the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association is pleased that the Ontario government issued a consultation paper on potential changes to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act 2002. The 45-day consultation period ended on Sept. 17.

A consultation paper by The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services accurately captures the concerns of the industry regarding the current provision of the MVDA and the limitations it places on dealers and salespeople in today’s marketplace.

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services solicited feedback from the public, consumer groups and associations. The TADA, representing 1,100 member dealers across Ontario, submitted its feedback in a consultation paper about proposed changes to the act.

The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act 2002, which came into effect in January 2010, deals with contracts, disclosures, warranties and business practices. It ushered in a new era of consumer protection, accountability and compliance for registered dealerships.

One of the changes the TADA is advocating for is the ability to transact business off-site from a dealership’s fixed address. Under the current MVDA, dealers are prohibited from doing so.

This proposal offers choice and convenience to both consumers and dealers. The TADA’s dealer members are increasingly reporting that consumers wish to be able to transact business offsite, away from the dealership. That may include test drives and the signing of documents from their home or place of work.

The TADA believes that consumers and dealers should have the choice of whether to conduct transactions off-site if the client is amenable. Salespeople registered with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council are not permitted to conduct business away from their office (dealership), the same way real estate agents are permitted to.

The negotiating of home sales often occurs in or outside the seller’s home, away from the real estate agent’s office. We believe the location of where contracts are negotiated and signed should not matter. For car sales, the overarching concern should be: is the consumer dealing with an OMVIC registrant?

The OMVIC (Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council) is a self-managed body that regulates and monitors the activities of registered motor vehicle dealers and protects the rights of consumers while administering the MVDA.

If a consumer wishes to purchase a vehicle fully online with electronic signatures, they are permitted to do so. That scenario is similar to dealing off-site since all negotiating and signing does not occur in the physical location of the dealership.

If a car buyer wishes to invite the salesperson to their home or office, that should be their choice. And if a salesperson wishes to oblige or not, we believe they should have that choice. In other words, the legislation should not prohibit offsite dealing – but allow it as long as both parties agree.

Offsite vehicle transactions are currently allowed in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan.

The TADA would like to thank Ross Romano, minister of government and consumer services, for his leadership to produce the consultation paper and to solicit feedback. This is the first time the current MVDA has been formally reviewed since coming into effect in 2010, and it could not have come at a better time. Our association looks forward to working with the government to help streamline business practices for the benefit of dealers and consumers.

Michael Eatson is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president of Peterborough Volkswagen. This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to president@tada.ca or contact us below. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.

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