Dechen Dolkar 

The government is reviewing the terms and conditions between the numerous car dealers and buyers.

The current terms and conditions favour the dealers.

Although buyers sign a contract agreement before purchase, it is found that the provisions of the contract favours vehicle dealers, particularly concerning delays and cancellations.

While ordering a new vehicle from the dealers, buyers have to pay an advance of up to Nu 300,000. Sometimes it takes more than a year for the vehicle to arrive after making the advance payment. If the buyer wants to cancel the order, he or she will have to pay cancellation charges.

During the question hour at the National Assembly yesterday, Mongar MP Karma Lhamo said this is not fair because buyers pay an advance and wait for a long time.

She said that buyers should be able to pay the tax to the government and bring in vehicles directly. “Otherwise, the possibilities should be explored.”

She said that the government must otherwise ensure that the vehicles are delivered within three months after advance payment.

Responding to the question, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said the office of consumer protection (OCP) has carried out a study.

OCP found that the vehicle dealers have to pay advance to the manufacturing company when placing orders  and so the dealers ask advance payment from the buyers.

Lyonpo said that there is no regulation that says that a buyer should order a vehicle through the dealers.

“Some buyers directly order vehicles from the company and pay the tax to the government before the pandemic,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo also said that the reason for the delay, taking one year to arrive, could be due to the pandemic with less productions from companies.

On the advance payment, Lyonpo said that dealers have to make full payment to the manufacturing companies.  However, buyers can cancel the order if it takes more than six months for the order to reach the country.

Lyonpo said that the government is in the process of reviewing the contract agreement. “The agreement will be suitable for both parties.”

Lyonpo said the government is trying to do away with dealership monopoly.

The chief program officer of OCP, Jigme Dorji, said: “Apart from force majeure, which is beyond anyone’s control, there are no clauses in the contract agreement making the vehicle dealer liable to pay penalty for the delay even during normal conditions, or for the customer to cancel with a full refund of advance payment.”

He said the terms and conditions would be studied to ensure that they are in line with the Consumer Protection Act, 2012.

OCP will also carry out advocacy programmes for vehicle dealers on their duties and obligations as a supplier and for consumers on their responsibility, particularly to help grasp the nuances of the terms and conditions before signing the contract.