Ontario dealers can complete sales via email during coronavirus pandemic
Ontario’s regulations prohibiting the signing of contracts off of a dealership’s property remain in effect during the coronavirus pandemic, although there are legal workarounds for dealers, according to a new bulletin by the province’s vehicle-sales regulator.
Today’s Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) bulletin said all trading — including buying, selling and leasing vehicles — still must take place either entirely on a dealership’s physical premises or completely online. And dealers still cannot take a contract to a customer’s home for a signature, as “that would constitute trading off-premises,” according to OMVIC.
However, a dealer can email contracts to customers for them to sign at home before scanning and emailing the contract back to the dealership. Alternatively, e-signatures are allowed. Once the contract is signed, a dealer can deliver the vehicle directly to the consumer’s home.
The bulletin comes as dealers in Canada’s largest province are scrambling to adjust their businesses in the wake of the pandemic as more consumers stay home and limit physical contact with others. Many dealers have indicated they would be looking into ways to increase remote offerings to prop up sales and service while customers choose to stay home.
“The bulletin was sent in response to inquiries and to address some confusion in the dealer community regarding these issues,” OMVIC spokesman Terry O’Keefe wrote in an email.
O’Keefe said OMVIC has received numerous inquiries from dealers about what is or is not allowed. He said that no regulations have changed as a result of the pandemic, as rules are set by the Ontario legislature.
The OMVIC bulletin said sales to remote customers “may be allowed if appropriate measures are enabled to comply with the [Motor Vehicle Dealers Act] and ensure consumer protection.” Examples of those measures include explaining contract terms to customers and ensuring that any vehicle sold is “fit for purpose,” according to the regulator.
“To help facilitate consumer protection, some dealers have agreed to terms and conditions of registration that provide remote customers with a contract cancellation period,” the bulletin reads.
OMVIC said dealers are allowed to take a vehicle to a customer’s home or elsewhere for a test drive, on the condition that the person delivering the vehicle is a registered salesperson. Additionally, the test drive should be “offered solely for evaluating a vehicle’s performance, suitability and/or condition prior to purchase or lease,” and for no other reason, OMVIC said.
In the event that a vehicle is sold to a customer who has not seen the vehicle in person, OMVIC said it requires dealers give them “full, clear and comprehensible disclosures” and to give those customers the chance to drive the vehicle and cancel the contract if it is “not suitable or not as represented.”