5 mins read

This Windsor, Ont., man is paying for a car he can’t drive. He’s calling for stronger consumer rights

A Windsor, Ont., man who has spent months without a vehicle as his SUV sits in the dealership’s lot, awaiting parts, following an accident is calling for stronger consumer laws.

Mohamed Ahmed says the March car accident left his then month-old vehicle undrivable. He said he wasn’t offered a replacement, and was “shocked” to learn he didn’t have a legal right to one.

Ahmed financed a 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan in February. He is still waiting for the arrival of two main parts — a steering rack and rims — so his vehicle can be fixed.

“There is no ETA on the parts, which is causing me a lot of frustration,” he said.

Ahmed said he works for a Toronto-based company and is supposed to be there in person at least twice a month, but he’s unable to get there.

“If I want to travel, meet my clients, meet my team — I’ll be so much stressed with everything going up on the roof now with prices. I need to save every penny not to spend it on car rentals.”

I’m paying for a car I don’t have. I’m paying for a car that I don’t know when it’s coming back.– Mohamed Ahmed, Windsor, Ont., resident

Ahmed said he’s had to rent a car a couple of times to make it to meetings in Toronto. He also said he used his wife’s car and she missed work in Windsor as a result.

“I contacted Volkswagen several times. There was no response from them or there was a, ‘We acknowledge that your car is there with us, but there is no ETA on the parts for now,'” Ahmed said.

“I’m paying for a car I don’t have. I’m paying for a car that I don’t know when it’s coming back.”

When reached for comment, the dealership, Volkswagen of Windsor, referred CBC News to Volkswagen Canada. The company did not respond to requests for comment by the time this article was published, but it will be updated should we receive a response.

Ahmed, a Canadian permanent resident, was hoping Volkswagen would offer compensation similar to the one he got from the company a couple of years ago when he had troubles with a pre-owned Audi while he was in the Middle East.

He said his Audi had to be taken to be fixed for a couple of months because of a faulty spark plug, and Volkswagen compensated him by giving him another car of the same value to use in the meantime.

“So why not here? Why doesn’t Canada have this” same consumer protection?

Ahmed’s insurance package doesn’t cover car rentals after accidents. He said he has upgraded his insurance to try to prevent going through this type of situation again.

George Iny standing next to an APA sign
‘In a more perfect world, the carmakers would step up their game,’ says George Iny of the Automobile Protection Association. (Dennis Cleary/CBC)

George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association, called for more consumer protection policies and said that cases such as Ahmed’s, carmakers should be held accountable.

“In a more perfect world, the carmakers would step up their game,” Iny said.

The consumer advocate says he would like to see automakers working with dealerships and body shops to compensate customers for waiting times. “You know, maybe [a car rental] or $25 a day paid for by the carmaker.”

“They should be providing a courtesy loaner when they cannot supply parts within a reasonable delay of time,” said Iny.

‘Domino effect’

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), said a vehicle is like a jigsaw puzzle where every piece is needed.

“Those pieces come from dozens of different suppliers. Then any one supplier on any one product can hold up the production of that car, and then it has a domino effect,” Volpe said.

While there are worldwide delays on car parts and cars fueled by multiple factors, including a shortage of semiconductors, Volpe said it’s a waiting game — “we’re all in the same boat.”

In the aftermath of the nearly two-week BC port strikeVolpe said cars manufactured in Canada and the US needing parts from Asia will continue to have some delays.

“It’s hard for me to say when we’re going to go back to normal or what is normal, and maybe this is the new normal,” Volpe said.

“It’s no consolation to anybody who’s waiting for parts or cars, but you know this is happening all over the world.”

Flavio Volpe wearing a white t-shirt and glasses
Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, says a vehicle is like a jigsaw puzzle where every piece is needed. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Volpe said anyone looking to purchase a car now should do some research first.

“Look around what’s happening lately. If that specific brand has had a lot of delays like this, then maybe hold off on that brand for now.”