Buyer Beware! Protecting yourself and your money.

We recently heard the story about an Australian man who found himself in a considerable financial predicament following the interstate purchase of a modified wheelchair vehicle.

It’s a sad story that we wanted to share with you to encourage you to do your research and take care when making a purchase.

Whilst this particular case is more a case of lack of due diligence, it highlights the importance of knowing all the facts before committing to buying something – particularly big ticket items.

John (name changed) was in need of a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Unable to find something suitable locally, he did what so many of us do and looked online. Using a reputable, popular and respectable online car sales website John found his perfect car – in his price range, with his needed modifications and with the added assurance of it having been owned by a state health department – albeit not in his state.

Happy with his decision, John bought the vehicle and arranged for it to be shipped through to him.

When it arrived John went to transfer the registration to his home state and to sort out his insurance – and this is where his nightmare began.

It is important to note that each state and territory in Australia has its own unique rules and regulations when it comes to registering a vehicle transferred from interstate.

It is also worth knowing that if you buy from a private seller, protections such as cooling-off periods and statutory warranties do not apply. With this being the case, it is crucial that you thoroughly research the car, have it inspected (whether by yourself, a trusted local contact or an independent inspector) and find out what rules/regulations/expectations/requirements apply to interstate vehicle registrations before you buy.

CarsGuide has a helpful article on purchasing a vehicle from another state (, HOWEVER, it is important that you are fully informed on your state’s rules PRIOR TO COMMITTING TO A PURCHASE. We encourage you to speak to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state.

In John’s case, whilst the car was sold in good faith and as advertised by the seller, the associated paperwork relating to the modifications was incorrect. Recorded as a 7 seater, rather than the modified 4 seater, the vehicle could not be registered locally without accurate paperwork. In an added twist to the story, when chasing up this discrepancy with the interstate engineer who had approved the modifications, it was discovered that he’d passed away and so could not correct his paperwork.

To have the required inspections and anticipated corrective work done to meet his state’s vehicle standards and specifications, John was informed that associated costs would be considerable and outside of his financial capabilities. Selling locally in its existing state as a non-registrable vehicle would mean huge losses to John.

The Office of Fair Trading could not help as it was simply a case of buyer error.

So sadly John learnt the hard way that due diligence is essential.

Please ensure that you are fully informed and have done your research before you make a purchase – particularly those with a high dollar value.

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