Question posted in the Consumer Protection Law category relating to Western Cape
Question value: R 100.00
I currently have a situation where I applied to purchase a vehicle at a car dealership of which my application was unsuccessful.They then offered me a leasing contract with their sister company of which the first 3yrs would be a leasing contract and thereafter another 3yrs would be a rent to own contract. Now that the 3 yrs has passed by they advised that they can no longer offer the rent to own contract as they no longer have that option available. I have been struggling for almost a year to get the rent to own contract from them. Each time I enquire, their response is either they currently don't have that option available or it is not a viable option. I have approached the Auto Mobile Ombudsmen and NCR but unfortunately they cannot assist as this is not within their jurisdiction. In the meantime I saw the same company advertising rent to own cars on their website whereas they told me this option is not available but will contact me as soon as it is. Of which they still didn't. Their sister company that I initially signed up with, no longer has a website and as an existing client I can no longer log in to my online profile and it seems that they are solely operating under the new group name now. What am I to do in this situation as I constantly have to extend the lease agreement in order not to "lose" the car? Now they also sent me an e-mail to extend my lease but must do so for minimum 2 years whereas they are advertising rent to own options on their website.
This is not fair practise as they are currently advertising on their website that they have rent ot own options available but are not offering me this even though this was the initial agreement when I signed up. Why I don't know as I have never defaulted and stuck to the terms and conditions during the 3yrs.
Answer to the Question
Hi there and thank you for your question,
The one thing that you can't do is to force a company to do business with you. I understand that when you signed the initial 3 year lease, that it was the intention that you then enter into a further 3 year rent-to-own contract. But, if you didn't enter into the 3 year rent-to-own contract, and the company is refusing to enter into it with you now, you can't actually force them to do so. This is unfortunately just the position in our law.
I think that the truth of the matter is that this company (or at least the sister company) can't get the required financing together to enable it to offer the 3 year rent-to-own contract to you. Perhaps the bank is saying that the car is too old, or the interest rate is too high, or something. What is clear is that the company is not telling you the truth.
If the Ombud and NCR won't assist you, then I think that you have come to the end.
You must make a decision -
1) Either, you continue with the leasing of the car; or
2) You refuse to renew the lease agreement, and give them back the car, and get a car from one of the dozens of other companies who offer rent-to-own contracts!
I would like to offer you a solution to forcing this company to do business with you, or at least to tell you the truth about why they are not offering you a 3 year rent-to-own contract, but there is nothing that I can offer.
If you think that this company is treating you differently because of your race, or religion, or something like that you can approach the Equality Court and ask the court for assistance. But then you need to be SURE!
If you think that the company is refusing because of the age of the car, or financing, or something else, then I would advise against going the Equality Court route because you'll lose the case, and you'll need to pay the court fees!
Rather, tell them that you've had enough and you won't continue this way anymore. Tell them to give you a 3 year rent-to-own contract or you're out of there!
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Information provided by client
Does this mean that I still can't make them give me the rent to own contract even though I have the initial offer on e-mail? I have the proof of the offer
Answer to the Question
Yes, even though you have their initial offer.
In our law you need an agreement, and there needs to be a meeting of the minds in relation to that agreement. There needs to be a formal offer (contract) and the acceptance of that offer.
If the email is actually a legal offer, then you can simply accept it.
BUT, I think that the email wouldn't contain all of the requirements to be a proper offer which you can simply accept. Rather, the email would be a suggestion as to what you could do in the future.
Also, in our law you can't have an agreement that you will agree on something in the future. Your email might be that. i.e. you agree now (5 years ago in your case) that in the future you will agree.
That won't work. No.
My previous advice stands.