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'Take Fear Out': Auto Chief Backs Japanese Testing

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A top auto dealer yesterday said he will "definitely" ensure his used vehicles undergo pre-import inspections, arguing that such processes will "take a lot of fear out of consumers".

Fred Albury, the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association's (BMDA) president, told Tribune Business he will "sleep better at night" by subjecting his own vehicles to the rigorous technical tests viewed during last week's Standards Bureau-led trip to Japan.

A member of that delegation, Mr Albury said it would be "a great consumer protection exercise" should the Government accept the offer by Japanese firm, EAA Company Ltd, to conduct pre-export inspections of all used vehicles shipped from that nation to the Bahamas.

He added that these inspections, conducted to standards and specifications set by the Bahamas, would enhance local consumer safety and act as a form of "insurance and assurance" that they were receiving "value for money" on their purchase.

And, responding to fears that pre-import inspection costs will price used vehicles beyond the reach of many Bahamians, Mr Albury told "the horn blowers" that the costs involved were "nominal" rather than "astronomical".

He said that based on the numbers suggested to him, pre-import inspection costs would likely be less than the sums spent by Bahamian women on their "hair and nails".

Describing the Japan trip as beneficial, Mr Albury told Tribune Business: "Any used cars I import now I'll definitely have inspected over there.......

"This is a great consumer protection exercise out there, which hopefully will be adopted by the Government and help consumers make better decisions on what they get. I'm going to have my vehicles inspected so I can sleep better at night. I had a couple of vehicles come in last year where the engines were bad."

A report on the Japan trip, and the delegation's findings and recommendations, is now being prepared by Standards Bureau executives for the Prime Minister and minister of labour's consideration.

Dr Renae Ferguson-Bufford, the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality's (BBSQ) director, and who led the delegation, declined to comment prior to the report's submission and added that the Government's next public comments would be made at the ministerial level. Mr Albury, though, said he and members of the Standards Bureau-led delegation saw "a very thorough" inspection process where vehicles were raised up on lifts and subjected to a full technical diagnosis.

The "front to back" inspection assessed areas such as brakes, suspensions, brake pads, tyre treads, electrical systems, battery and oil quality, and emissions - all of which, Mr Albury said, will help to detect vehicles that are water-damaged, have been in an accident or are stolen.

"All in all it's a very good process," he told Tribune Business," and will take a lot of fear out of the consumer from buying 'sight unseen', having the vehicle inspected and to a certain standard.

"It's an insurance programme; insurance and assurance that the consumer is getting value for money. It makes sense to have. I think it's quite thorough, and I think it could be very helpful in the consumer making a decision about getting a vehicle out there rather than a piece of junk.

"They can also confirm the mileage. There's a lot of corruption with putting back the mileage for vehicles coming in here. While the consumer thinks their getting a vehicle with 40,000 miles on when it's really 140,000.

Mr Albury added that used car vehicle exporters to the Bahamas tended to come from other Asian nations, not Japan, and "see our market as being wide open with no regulation, so they have a field day with it, exporting junk".

He said Japanese customs statistics only captured vehicle exports above a certain value or "threshold", meaning that these failed to capture a significant portion of the automobiles being sent to the Bahamas.

Feedback on the pre-import vehicle inspections, as measured by responses to Tribune Business's articles on this newspaper's website, has been overwhelmingly opposed to the Bahamas adopting such a process and measures.

Many responses have suggested the Japan trip was a 'conspiracy' between the new car dealers, banks and the Government to price used vehicles beyond affordability for many Bahamians, resulting in increased sales, auto loans and Public Treasury revenues for the three parties involved.

Mr Albury, though, said the inspection fee involved would likely be "very nominal" based on the numbers provided to him, and would be well worth the improved consumer protection and safety.

"It's nothing astronomical," he told Tribune Business. "The expression was used that some women would spend more on their hair and nails than what these inspections cost.

"I think it's a good insurance policy that the consumer can have some protection on the buying of a car sight unseen, and to eliminate the mileage being rolled back on vehicles.

"The big thing the consumer needs to be concerned about is the corruption with mileage roll-back," Mr Albury continued. "When they think they're getting a deal they're really not, and this inspection process will eliminate that fear.

"From the numbers quoted, any inspection fee will only be nominal. For the horn blowers out there claiming this will be astronomical, it's not. The consumer should be very happy if this is adopted."

Mr Albury said the Bahamas would have to determine the pre-import inspection standards that used vehicles have to meet should it accept EAA Company's offer, and added that the rest of the Caribbean was likely to follow this nation's lead.

"It would eliminate the oil-burning clunkers and vehicles coming in with bald tyres and bad batteries that end up in the landfill, and cars that have been in an accident or stolen," the BMDA and Auto Mall chief added of the inspections.

"It's going to be a good source of consumer protection to ensure consumers are getting value for money."

Of the 1.2-1.4 million used vehicle exports recorded by Japanese customs last year, Mr Albury said some 74,000 found their way to the Caribbean. Jamaica, which has imposed a five-year age limit on vehicle imports, saw these arrivals increase by almost 50 per cent in 2017 - from around 22,000 to 33,000.

Comments

BahamasForBahamians 9 months, 1 week ago

This guy just doesn't get it.

Fred can you please FOOK OFF.. We - The Average bahamian populace do not care to hear from you!

We see through this FNM smoke screen.

You barely sell any Japanese cars - we are not interested in your opinion on Japanese car imports.

We know that your sales at the Auto Mall & Executive Motors are horrible and the only reason you're involved is to get your sales going again.

For the FNM apologists who think otherwise: http://www.tribune242.com/news/2016/j...

This guy is only it for himself.

The government is allowing this because it serves the interest of sitting (a) Cabinet Member(s)

Back to 60,000 autoloans from commonwealth bank if the FNM is successful this term.

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ThisIsOurs 9 months, 1 week ago

No I enter think he gets it. I've never encountered anyone who bought a car from Japan who was afraid of what they would get. They're usually very happy that they found a car for a price they could afford. Having the president of the new car dealers on this trip was a very bad move. Conflict of interest is glaring. And conflict of interest does not mean you did or will do something untoward, it simply means that you have two masters with conflicting interests, you can't do justice to both, one will ultimately become secondary to the other.

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JohnDoe 9 months, 1 week ago

You are absolutely correct about conflict of interests but it actually is more pernicious than just conflict of interest. Individual self-interest is indeed a powerful organizing force and incentive in a free market economic, however, when self-interest is infused into public policy decision making then there is certainly the potential for conflict of interest but more importantly it almost invariably serves as the precursor for market abuse and political corruption. This government came to power as a result of the rejection of the corrupt practices and self-interest dealings of the PLP and their cronies. It is ironic that my greatest disappointment in this government to date is that they appear to be complicit in similar corrupt self-interest practices with respect to public policy formation, the only difference being that for the PLP and their cronies it was new money for them but the current FNM cronies already control most of the wealth in this country. How much is enough and why are they so afraid of competition?

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realitycheck242 9 months, 1 week ago

Oh yes even the blind can see that Conflict of interest is the moral of this article. No member of the motor dealers association should have been a part of the trip. Only independent persons with knowledge of the industry who would be impartial to all who sell cars locally including the many sellers who are not apart of the association..Mr: Albury knows that the major segment of his companies sales is the brand new vehicles he imports so why would he recommending anything positive that would help used car importers. and further cause a decrease in his new car sales. Why would he want to help the smaller portion of his company pie ?(used cars sales) With the way the association have been complaining over the years the recommendations from this committee will be hitting the small man in the pocket to the tune of thousands of dollars.

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proudloudandfnm 9 months, 1 week ago

The issue of lesser quality used car imports sits entirely with American used cars. This whole thing is just too damned obvious. Japanese imports are such high quality at incredibly reasonable prices they are cutting into the sales of new car dealers. Simple as that. Japanese imports are incredibly good there is no real reason to hit us with an inspection fee. This had better not be made law. Give us the ability to deny the inspections. I definitely would not pay it of I didn't have to. Every single Japanese import I owned was far superior to anything offered out of the US, in every aspect...

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OMG 9 months, 1 week ago

Just another tax by a different name. Every Jap import I have seen is clean,everything working and excellent quality.

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BahamasForBahamians 9 months, 1 week ago

I adominsh everyone that reads this article to mark my words - if this government continues full sleep ahead with THIS particular issue - this will be the one to sink them in the next general election

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happyfly 9 months, 1 week ago

People in this country are finally figuring out that they should not be spending their entire life savings on a damn car but this fascist wants us to go to the bank and pay double for the double he already charging. This is how the rich f... the poor people 101.

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