Give me back my Bentley, says owner of luxury car stuck in locked Volks Auto showroom
The luxurious Bentley sits in the showroom's window for all to see, but no one can touch it, not even its owner.
Not for now, at least.
The New Paper understands that the car owner handed his vehicle to car dealership Volks Auto more than three months ago.
The owner's plan was to consign his Bentley to and later buy a Mercedes from Volks Auto, a parallel importer that started business in April.
But all that has changed, now that the dealership's director, Mr Alvin Loo, has gone missing, along with the other cars in the showroom.
The Bentley's owner is not the only one looking for Mr Loo. More than 60 disgruntled customers, as well as his staff, have been left in the lurch.
Yesterday was the second day a small crowd gathered outside the locked showroom at 50, MacPherson Road. Police officers were also present.
The Bentley owner's friend, who wanted to be known only as Mr Neo, claimed he was sent by the owner as a representative.
"The car is still under my friend's name. He's still paying for the insurance and all that, but cannot get his car back.
Mr Neo declined to reveal his friend's name.
"He's already coming to terms with what has happened and knows it is hard for him to get anything back. He's considering whether or not to pursue the matter in court."
The Bentley could be worth more than $500,000, said car dealer Patrick Lim, from Apex Car.
Meanwhile, the other upset customers were seen speaking to the police.
A woman in her 30s, who wanted to be known only as Miss Li, said she had paid $93,000 as downpayment for a new Porsche Macan.
According to online dealerships, this Porsche model costs more than $200,000.
"I thought Singapore was a very safe country and so I paid up," said the Singaporean.
"I cannot believe that such cheating is going on here."
She showed The New Paper her invoices, which stated that the payments were made on three occasions.
The most recent payment of $60,000 was made last month.
She also claimed that the company had sent her bills for the car's instalments. This, despite not delivering the car, which she was meant to collect this month.
Others, like a man who wanted to be known only as Abel, arrived after reading reports of the fiasco.
"I put a deposit of about $20,000 for a Porsche Macan also," he said.
"I did not suspect anything until I opened the papers and saw the reports."
The angry customers have banded together and formed a WhatsApp chat group, which now has around 90 members.
In the chat, a customer claimed to have paid more than $100,000 to Volks Auto as a deposit.
More than $1.6 million is believed to have been paid up by customers in the group to Volks Auto.
All of them have not received the cars they paid for.
They intend to gather at the Kallang branch of McDonald's today from 4pm to 7pm, to discuss their next course of action.
Police advised the angry customers to leave after taking their statements yesterday.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said it has received 14 complaints against Volks Auto in the past two days.
Mr Seah Seng Choon, the executive director of Case, released a statement advising unhappy customers to lodge a police report and pursue legal action.
A police spokesman confirmed that investigations are ongoing.
"I thought Singapore was a very safe country and so I paid up. I cannot believe that such cheating is going on here."
- Miss Li
Customers vent, offer advice online
A chat group on WhatsApp formed by the angry customers of Volks Auto has grown to about 90 members.
And the emotional chatter has intensified, with members lashing out against the dealership, offering legal advice to each other and sharing their experiences with the parallel importer.
They have been doing this on car forums online and in the group chat after the showroom closed on Saturday.
"I really want to skin this b******," said one member, referring to the director of Volks Auto, Mr Alvin Loo.
"All these are our hard-earned money that they cheated," said another.
There were also comments from buyers about how Volks Auto managed to get away with $1.6 million worth of deposits.
Many said that after they forked out the downpayments, the director told them their cars were being inspected by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), and that the matter was out of his hands.
One text message shared by a buyer showed a response from a sales staff from the company that said: "The LTA side upset my boss a lot over the waiting period for car inspection too."
Said one buyer in the group chat: "They pushed everything onto LTA. I called LTA, but the officers requested for the engine and chassis number."
These details were not given to customers of Volks Auto.
When one customer asked for the information, Mr Loo apparently told him: "Documents I have, but cannot show you now because it's parallel import and sensitive."
With the director now missing, there was no way the customers could trace the cars they ordered.
One buyer, who wanted to be known only as David, said: "If a deposit is placed, the company should have followed up on it."
He told TNP: "In the past, the deposit required was small, compared to today. New laws mean that before delivery, we need to pay 50 per cent of the car's (price).
"That means that a lot more money is in the hands of the parallel importers."
David paid $20,700 for a Honda Vezel. He believes he has already lost the entire sum.
"This guy just kept collecting deposits... Why are there no regulations to control this?
"I have likely lost all my deposit, but I hope something good can come out of this," he added.