40 car buyers look for missing dealer in showroom showdown: 'This is worse than Jover Chew'
He thought he got a steal of an early Christmas gift for his father - a brand new car.
But yesterday, all Mr Kenny Lim, 36, got was a rude shock.
He had put a deposit on the car he saw in the Volks Auto showroom at Three Rifles Building on MacPherson Road - but the car was no longer there.
The owner of the dealership was not contactable.
And he was not the only angry customer. A group of other buyers had also turned up at the showroom yesterday demanding the return of their downpayment.
Mr Lim's $37,000 deposit to Volks Auto also seemed to have vanished.
All he could do was grip a stack of pink-coloured pages - his sales agreement - wondering what led him to sign them in October.
"I bought the car for my father," said the sales manager. "He had a stroke recently and can't drive his old manual car.
"This was a Christmas gift for him to get around. What am I going to tell him now?"
To speed up the process, Mr Lim had chosen the display model, a Honda Vezel S.
At $108,000, including a certificate of entitlement for the car, it was a bargain.
The same model costs about $130,000 at other parallel importers.
The icing on the cake was Volks Auto's high trade-in offer of $15,000 for his father's old Toyota Vios.
Other dealers were offering $10,000 for similar trade-ins.
When Volks Auto did not provide the registration and chassis numbers of the car, Mr Lim became suspicious.
Staff at Volks Auto told him the car had been sent for inspection and was delayed.
They declined to give him details, which would have allowed him to track the vehicle he ordered.
At noon yesterday, Mr Lim decided to visit the showroom. He was shocked to see around 30 other furious customers there.
The showroom was closed and none of its staff were present.
All that remained was a white Bentley behind the glass, a luxury car worth more than $600,000.
Pointing to the crowd, Mr Lim said angrily: "How the hell did it come to this?
"I almost wanted to smash the glass down to get in."
The other customers were similarly outraged. Each had forked out between $20,000 to $40,000 in deposits.
Some customers held young children, while others arrived in their office attire after lunch.
One customer said the deals offered were "too good to resist".
Another said the staff were professional, and the number of Bentleys and Rolls-Royces in the showroom gave him "confidence that the deal was legitimate".
"We want the authorities to look into this matter," said Mr Richard Lee, 61.
IT manager K. K. Lo, 53, who had put down $20,000 for a Honda Fit, said he was part of a WhatsApp group of 13 netizens from mycarforum.com.
His group members had been updating each other about their encounters with Volks Auto. When they realised the showroom was closed, they decided to gather there yesterday.
"I was shocked to see another WhatsApp group here, so we combined forces," said Mr Lo, showing the details of the group's chat on his smartphone.
"We now have 43 group members." He estimated the amount of deposit paid to Volks Auto to be about $1 million.
The group also did background checks on the company and shared details about its director.
Some of Mr Lo's group visited the director's home to get answers, but had no success, as the corner terrace house was vacant.
"This is clearly a scam because buying cars is supposed to be a transparent process.
"Jover Chew is nothing compared to this," he said, referring to the Sim Lim Square retailer that made headlines recently.
As the group left to lodge police reports at around 4pm, a security guard at the building wanted them to pay their parking fees.
Mr Lim shouted at the guard while others held him back: "We all lost money here. Don't tell me about your $1 or $2 problem."
Even after the group left, a few others streamed in only to discover the showroom closed.
The New Paper understands that Volks Auto had more than a hundred customers since the business started in April.
The director of Volks Auto could not be contacted. Police are investigating.
This is clearly a scam because buying cars is supposed to be a transparent process. Jover Chew is nothing compared to this.
- Customer K. K. Lo