Shanghai residents being duped into buying retired taxis

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SHANGHAI - People in Shanghai, who want to purchase second-hand cars, are now being duped into buying retired taxis that have been modified and repaired by dubious dealers, an investigation by a leading daily has found.

Residents have paid out about 40,000 yuan ($6,000) for a second-hand car, only to discover they have landed with a “clapped-out” taxi, the Shanghai Daily reported.

“Some underground sellers are duping buyers into buying retired taxi cabs with worn-out engines by hiding the vehicle’s real identity,” the report said.

Police and the government-authorised used-car market said they are working to stop the conmen’s activities.

“Together with the police, we have added warning signs in the market, telling people to avoid dealing with dubious sellers, and we carry out random checks to uncover unlicensed dealers,” said Cheng Qianping, manager with the Xinzhuang Second-Hand Automobile Market, a major used-car centre in the southern suburb of Shanghai.

Though retired taxis are allowed for second-hand trade, these sell for 20,000 yuan, or less. However, a used private car averages at 40,000 to 50,000 yuan,” Cheng said.

A local court recently held a hearing of a case filed by a car buyer who claims to have been cheated on such a deal.

The plaintiff, surnamed Xie, has demanded a full refund. “I paid 40,000 yuan for the car and thought it was a good bargain,” she said.

The seller allegedly made excuses not to give her the car documents after Xie paid a deposit. When she cleared the full payment, she received the car certificates which clearly stated “retired taxi”.

In other cases, victims were shown bogus car documents hiding the car’s real history.

“Each car has an engine number. People can always use the serial number to trace its history and identity in the official registration database,” said Li Weikang, a licensed dealer at the Xinzhuang market.

“Fake car identity documents cost only 100 to 200 yuan in underground circles and, for the inexperienced, they are difficult to spot,” Li said.

According to Chinese law, taxis must be taken off the road eight years after they start running. Private cars can stay for at least 14 years.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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