With translation by Riham Sheble.
Government inspectors have closed two vehicle showrooms in Qatar for a month after alleging they misled customers by selling supposedly new cars and trucks that had actually been damaged and repaired.
Notices from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, announcing a violation of consumer protection laws, are affixed to the windows of the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealership on Al Matar Street, near the old airport, as well as the Nissan dealership on Salwa Road, near Ramada Junction.
In a statement, the government said it raided two dealerships as part of an ongoing inspection campaign, as well as in response to customer complaints, and found evidence of “commercial fraud.”
“The ministry’s inspectors conducted unannounced visits to the dealerships and service centers to find a number of violations committed by those agencies by selling new cars to customers without informing them that they have undergone repairs and been painted after being in accidents,” the statement said.
The Chrysler dealership is owned by United Cars Al Mana, which is part of the Almana Group. Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co. owns the Nissan dealership and also operates two other Nissan showrooms elsewhere in Qatar that are unaffected by the government’s enforcement action.
Spokespeople from both companies told Doha News they were preparing official statements in response to the allegations. Dubai-based representatives for the respective manufacturers did not respond to requests for comments.
However, a source with knowledge of the investigation said the transgressions are less serious than they appear.
He claimed the vehicles were damaged during the shipping process – not in road accidents. He added that scratches and dents commonly occur during marine transport and are subsequently repaired by dealerships upon delivery.
In these circumstances, he said the customer is required to sign a disclaimer acknowledging that work has been performed and may be offered a discount or other incentive for accepting the vehicle.
In at least some cases under investigation by the ministry, the auto dealer was unable to produce the paperwork showing the customer understood that their new vehicle had undergone minor repairs, the source said.
As the news of the closure spread, many local residents expressed anger on social media:
— م. عبدالله الحرمي (@almastor_QTR) December 13, 2014
— Nabil Al Nashar (@NabilNashar) December 13, 2014
— OS_architect (@os_architect) December 14, 2014
Meanwhile, some customers said they felt let down by the dealerships and were looking for more information.
Ali Khanan told Doha News that he would be bringing his Nissan Patrol, which he said he purchased in September 2013, to an independent mechanic for a full inspection.
“It’s a huge disappointment. It’s a breach of trust,” he said, adding he would like the dealership to reach out to customers or make a public statement explaining what happened as well as what corrective action the company plans to take.
Khanan added that the news was making him reconsider future purchases.
“I was planning to buy a (Nissan) X-Trail for my wife. I will have to think about (that purchase) closely,” he said.