A car dealership in Sherbrooke, Que., may have broken the law when it used a GPS device to disable the car of a client who was refusing to pay an extra $200 fee, say consumer advocates consulted by CBC News.
Bury, Que., resident Daniel Lallier signed a four-year lease for a Kia Forte LX back in May from Kia Sherbrooke. Two months later, the 20-year-old’s grandmother offered to buy the car outright when he lost his job and couldn’t make his weekly payments.
After settling the balance and paying a $300 penalty, Lallier said, the dealership told him he would have to pay an additional $200 to remove a GPS tracker that had been installed on the car.
The device allows dealers to remotely immobilize a car in case lease payments are in arrears.
Lallier said there was no mention of the removal fee in the contract and he disputed having to pay it.
“I just find it absurd that over $13,000 was spent on this vehicle and we still have to pay $200 more to have their device removed,” he told CBC.
Notified by text message
After Lallier refused to pay the fee, a mechanic notified him by text message that his car was being remotely disabled until the dealership recovered the device and $200 fee.
“I went outside and tested my car, and it wouldn’t work at all. It wouldn’t start period, and I got angry,” Lallier said.
He said the text message was the only notice he received from the dealership that his car would be deactivated.
Lallier had just started a new job and needed the car to get to work.
“I let my mom deal with it because I would have blown a head gasket.”
His mother was able to reach an agreement with the dealership. Lallier said a salesperson reactivated the car with his smartphone.
On Monday, the dealership contacted Lallier and removed the device without charge. CBC’s calls to the dealer were not returned.
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