Customers seem to think so and the trade dept. has acted on their complaint

Vehicle: In a move to ensure actual prices are being charged for vehicles, the trade department has asked all vehicle dealers to invite a representative from their principal company to discuss the issue.

This is following numerous complaints the department has received from customers across the country that vehicles, sold by dealers in the country, are over priced.

Trade joint director, Dophu Tshering, said the department was forced to intervene and, for the first time, has asked dealers to call their principal company representatives.

Dophu Tshering explained that, since September last year, the department had written to the dealers to submit details of the vehicle’s price composition, including company price and dealer’s commission.  But the details were not provided adequately.

A staff of one of the showrooms in Thimphu, who requested anonymity, said that dealers make profit between Nu 100,000-200,000 depending on the type of vehicle.  The profit includes the dealer’s commission.

A few complaints were also received from the dealers.  These concerned Bhutanese buying vehicles from across the border, particularly Siliguri.  Buying vehicles from across the border has a significant price advantage.

“There are no control measures at the moment for vehicle prices in the country. So, it’s important that we intervene,” Dophu Tshering said. “When there are several complaints from customers, it means dealers aren’t doing proper business.”

The meeting between trade officials and the principal company representatives, along with the dealers, has been scheduled for April 1.  During the meeting, representatives  will be briefed on the country’s Wholesale Regulation, 2006.

Procedures on vehicle dispatch, company price, and transportation cost and dealer’s commission will also be discussed.  The joint director said dealers have been given enough time of two weeks to inform their principal company.

“Failing to comply will result in cancellation of dealership license,” he said.

Meanwhile, dealers said that the allegation on over pricing is not true.  They said their pricing is in accordance to regulations.  Dealers also said that, although theirs is a profit making business, their internal policy mandates them to provide goods and services at affordable prices.

However, a third country vehicle dealer said it would not be possible for them to invite their principal company representative on such short notice.

“We have to see the convenience of our company officials,” one of the third country vehicle dealers said.

In reference to Bhutanese buying vehicles from India at lower prices, Dophu Tshering said buyers should be cautious, as there have been cases where vehicles were not delivered despite payment.

He said, although it was not illegal to buy vehicles from India, to bring the vehicles into Bhutan, a wholesale dealer license is required. This forces Bhutanese to buy from local dealers only.

“Should there be any changes on prices of vehicle after we meet the principal company representative, it would be implemented for vehicles bought after the meeting only,” he said.

By Nirmala Pokhrel