Created on Friday, 29 April 2011
Last week, I passed the gavel and privilege of serving as the President of the Toronto Auto Dealers Association (TADA) to Sandy Ligouri. Sandy is the Dealer Principal of Woodchester Nissan Infiniti in Mississauga and he shares a passion for this business that will compliment the direction of the TADA.
From the outset, I tried to broaden the scope of this column, but still focus on dealership- and consumer-related issues. In that vein, I tried to showcase the need for consistency on many issues affecting dealers and motorists.
One of the early columns addressed traffic congestion and gridlock within the GTA. Reader response showed that I obviously touched a nerve. In fact, traffic congestion became a hot issue in the municipal elections, prompting much voter interest in "the war on the car" debate.
Newly-elected Mayor Rob Ford cancelled and refunded the discriminatory vehicle registration fee (tax), which penalized only those vehicle owners residing in the city of Toronto. This corrected an unfair situation and underlined the need for motorists to have an equal place at the table with others, deciding on road and transit remedies.
Another situation that affects motorists, and which screams for consistency across the province, is the confusing municipal regulations that govern the towing industry. When I wrote about the need for provincial legislation for tow truck drivers and tow truck owners, some readers felt that I was being unfairly critical of that industry.
But ask any consumer about the fairness of an inflated tow bill that's often far in excess of the cost of the actual collision damage incurred in an accident, or about vehicles held hostage and about the fairness of insurance rate increases inflated by obscene towing charges.
In another column, I pointed out that the Ontario Highway Traffic Act governs the use of public roadways by all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicles, horse-drawn vehicles, and even rickshaws.
My point was that often, only motorists are targeted for compliance, while cyclists and others are ignored when running red lights, refusing to yield, stop or obey road signs, changing lanes without signaling, etc.
Recalls on everything from food, drugs, appliances, baby cribs, etc. are not uncommon today. Another column, appearing last October, illustrated the inconsistency in automotive recalls vs. product recalls on other goods.
Automobile manufacturers and their franchised dealers are mandated to proactively contact each consumer who may be affected by a safety recall, to remedy the issue. Recalls on other consumer products are not proactive and rely on publicity and/or media advertising to alert the public of a problem. Once again, it's a different standard.
Recently, I wrote about non-registered auto brokers, agents and car buying services. These commercial businesses, sometimes masquerading as clubs or associations, often make bogus claims and false promises.
Unlike new car dealers, these "third party" services are not obliged to be registered with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council and, therefore, they avoid regulation and discipline by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Dealers Act. This inconsistency robs buyers of the consumer protection provided by the MVDA.
Being a guest columnist for Toronto Star Wheels this year has been a unique experience for me. I can better appreciate the talents and efforts of the regular contributors who strive to be original and to meet publishing deadlines.
I want to thank the Star for this opportunity and to thank all readers who read my columns and who wrote, whether to agree or disagree.
Next week, Sandy Liguori assumes the responsibility for this column. Wheels readers will be well served by his breadth of knowledge and expertise in the retail auto sector. Good luck, Sandy!