Dispute over Aston Martin car deal: Businessman pays $19,000 - in coins
He had been ordered by the court to pay about $19,000 to his car dealer.
But, unhappy at how he had been treated by the dealer, the customer duly brought the money to the Exotic Motor showroom at Alexandra Road on Tuesday - all $19,000 in coins, weighing about 30kg.
"I did it because the car dealer had me running around and waiting for nothing. He made me look like a fool for 1½ years," businessman Ong Boon Lin, 34, told The New Paper yesterday.
The episode began when he approached Exotic Motor in late 2010 to sell his blue Aston Martin V8 Vantage. He had bought the supercar for about $550,000 four years earlier.
"It was a two-seater sports car that couldn't fit my family. Plus I was overseas most of the time and my dad didn't dare to drive it because it was too low," said Mr Ong, who is married and has a toddler.
He intended to trade in the car for a new Bentley GT, costing about $770,000, from Exotic Motor. He would top up the difference.
Exotic Motor's owner Tang Siu Tong suggested that Mr Ong consign his Aston Martin to the showroom.
"He also said that by leaving my car at the showroom, it would be easier for him to push it to customers when they came by," said Mr Ong.
"The plan was to sell my car first and then buy the Bentley. So I left it with him."
Mr Ong continued paying for his car's road tax and insurance, totalling about $35,000 each year.
"So for about 12 months, I continued paying for my car even though I didn't drive it. Mr Tang said I could take the car out anytime to drive, but I was overseas most of the time," said Mr Ong.
In August 2011, both parties entered into a sales and purchase agreement, which stated that the car dealer would take the Aston Martin and Mr Ong would buy a new Bentley from Exotic Motor.
At this point, Mr Ong said Exotic Motor was supposed to bear the costs for his Aston Martin.
"I was going to sell it, so I wasn't going to spend another cent on it, especially after waiting so long," he said.
"So we agreed that if it was sold, Mr Tang would just deduct the costs from the final amount (on the Aston Martin)."
He claimed that his Bentley was also not delivered to him, despite the agreement stating that it would arrive within six weeks.
"Mr Tang kept giving excuses," said Mr Ong.
"He first said my loan to finance the purchase of the Bentley wasn't approved, and then he said the Bentley was rejected from entering Singapore. After 1½ years, I got tired of waiting."
So in early 2012, Mr Ong said he withdrew his Aston Martin from Exotic Motor and later sold it to another car dealer.
Mr Tang sued Mr Ong, who was ordered by the court to pay about $19,000 to cover for Mr Tang's legal fees and the car's insurance, road tax and maintenance costs borne by Exotic Motor.
"I offered to pay in four instalments, but he said no," said Mr Ong.
"So after all that he's done to me, I gathered all the loose change from my shops and paid him."
On Tuesday, he went to the showroom to make the payment.
"I didn't behave aggressively. I even joked, laughed and told the staff that I was going to pay in coins," said Mr Ong.
"She seemed okay."
He said that after she had signed the acceptance letter, his worker pushed a trolley supporting a Styrofoam box containing the $19,000 worth of coins into the showroom.
The box, however, broke as his worker was entering the showroom.
Mr Ong said he then tipped the trolley and let the coins drop on the floor because he wanted his trolley back. He then left.
"Was I too much? I was really unhappy with his business practice and I paid the amount in full. So, no," he said, with a mischievous grin.
I offered to pay in four instalments, but he said no. So after all that he's done to me, I gathered all the loose change from my shops and paid him.
- Businessman Ong Boon Lin
Car dealer says difficult customer is a 'tough nut'
LOOSE CHANGE: Exotic Motor owner Tang Siu Tong and the bags of coins that his customer had returned him. TNP PHOTO: MOHD ISHAK
He was a difficult customer, said Exotic Motor owner Tang Siu Tong, 44, of the man who paid $19,000 worth of coins to him.
He confirmed that Mr Ong Boon Lin had turned up at his showroom on Tuesday to pay the amount ordered by the court.
But when his staff called him to say that Mr Ong had left a mountain of coins at the main entrance, he said he was not taken aback.
He told The New Paper. "This guy is a tough nut. For the 1½ years that we've dealt with him, he's been a difficult customer."
Mr Tang also refuted Mr Ong's side of the story. He said Mr Ong had approached him in late 2010 without the intention to buy a new car.
"He only wanted to sell his vehicle. It was only after months of us being unable to sell his vehicle that he requested to do a trade-in," he said.
So they entered into a sales and purchase agreement in August 2011.
It was stated in the agreement that Exotic Motor would take over Mr Ong's Aston Martin V8 Vantage and that he would buy a new Bentley GT in return.
But Mr Tang said the loan that Mr Ong had taken to buy the new car had not been received.
"He was unable to get financing from a bank because he was facing another lawsuit then," he said.
He also refuted Mr Ong's claims that the Bentley GT did not arrive in Singapore, saying that Mr Ong did not pick up the car.
"He can say what he wants, at the end of the day, the court ruled in our favour. We won the case," Mr Tang said.
Mr Ong was ordered by the court to pay about $19,000 for Mr Tang's legal fees and the costs borne by Exotic Motor for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage's maintenance, insurance and road tax.
The showroom's staff showed TNP the close-circuit television footage of what happened that day.
In the video, Mr Ong was first seen entering the showroom before he was attended to by a woman. Both of them appeared to sign a document before Mr Ong left the showroom.
He returned a few minutes later with his worker following behind, wheeling a trolley with a styrofoam box.
As they were about to enter the showroom, the box broke and coins spilled out.
Mr Ong was then seen tipping the coins onto the floor before leaving.
The female employee ran after him in a bid to stop him and to get him to take back the coins.
As for Mr Ong's behaviour that day, another employee said he was not aggressive, even though he had a menacing aura about him.
She added there had been no shouting or any confrontation.
"The only time I ran out to see what was happening was when he poured the coins onto the floor and the coins clanging was loud," she said.
Mr Tang said the coins were soaked in foul-smelling water, which stained his carpet after Mr Ong tipped the contents of the trolley onto it.
When TNP visited the showroom yesterday, there was a faint smell of a wet market.
Employees told TNP that it took a worker nearly an hour to scoop up all the coins and place them in bags. They also had to mask the smell with air freshener.
Meanwhile, the coins were placed in a car boot, still reeking of dead fish.
Mr Ong, however, denied doing anything to the coins.
Mr Tang's lawyer, Mr Ranjit Singh, said it was regretful that Mr Ong had to behave in such a manner. He added he and his client were contemplating what to do next.
Mr Tang said he has not counted the money and intends to reject the payment.
He said: "If you want to return someone money, at least put it on the table, not the floor. It just shows his integrity.
"In this world, the customer is not always right and not all car dealers are crooks."
If you want to return someone money, at least put it on the table, not the floor... In this world, the customer is not always right and not all car dealers are crooks.
- Exotic Motor owner Tang Siu Tong
WHAT NOW FOR THE COINS?
Pay a huge sum in coins? Is that being unreasonable? Or worse? And are there grounds to reject such forms of payment?
Given that the acceptance letter for the payment was signed before the coins were delivered, car dealer Tang Siu Tong may be able to reject the coins, said lawyers who The New Paper spoke to.
Lawyer Luke Lee, from Luke Lee & Co, said the acceptance letter did not contain an indication of the mode of payment, but merely the amount.
"So in this case, the car dealer can reject the mode of payment, which is in coins," he said.
Given that many of the coins were of denominations smaller than $1, the payment may have breached the Monetary Authority of Singapore's Currency Act, lawyers said.
Under the Act, any sum can be paid in $1 coins, but payments of more than $10 in 50-cent coins could be refused.
You could also refuse coins in smaller denominations than 50 cents for any payment above $2.
Criminal lawyer Rajan Supramaniam added that given the coins had a fishy smell, they could be deemed to be in unsatisfactory condition.
"It would mean all the more that they can be rejected," he said.
HOW MANY COINS PER PAYMENT IS ACCEPTABLE?