Highpoint Motors Customer Experience

If you are thinking of buying a used car here is a tip for you.  Stay away from Highpoint Motors PTY. LTD. currently of 2-8 Ballarat Road, Maidstone, Victoria because you could end up with the sort of trouble my son, and at least two other people, got when they bought from Highpoint Motors here in Melbourne.

Stories of people getting ripped off by used car salesman are so common people don’t seem to even complain about them.  When my son searched the internet for information, complaints, compliments, recommendations or warnings about Highpoint Motors or the proprietor, Sandro (Sam) Anthony Fallone, he found nothing but car advertisments.

Google returned numerous pages of entries with the slogan “HIGHPOINT MOTORS at LOW POINT PRICES”  and the information that, “Highpoint Motors is a friendly family owned and opperated(sic) car yard that has been estabilished(sic) for over 7 years.”

According to the Motor Car Trader Key Register, Highpoint Motors was licensed on     21/06/2006.  By my calculations that means they have been established for just under five years so it looks like they either can’t count or they don’t tell the truth!

My job today is to write something that might make it into the results when people search for information about Highpoint Motors and Sandro Fallone or Sam Fallone as he likes to be called.  If my son had found something like this blog entry when he searched he would have saved himself a lot of grief.  Since it is too late to save him I hope this will save others instead.

My son negotiated a price of $3152.90 for a used Holden Apollo at Highpoint Motors in November 2010 and Joe, the salesman, said he had to call the boss to get permission to sell the car so cheaply.  He called someone, we presume it was Sandro Anthony Fallone, the proprietor of Highpoint Motors and got permission.  The salesman said the car would probably need two new tyres to get a roadworthy certificate and said they would give my son the new tyres.  When my son asked about the warranty Joe said he could not have a warranty unless he paid more for the car or paid for the tyres himself.

This probably should have sounded an alarm but my son accepted the conditions and he bought the car.  When he took possession of it there were no new tyres and he was told they had not been needed to achieve the roadworthy certificate after all.  He was not given any warranty despite not getting the new tyres nor was he given a roadworthy or papers to transfer ownership over to him as Highpoint Motors said they would do all that for him.

Less than two months after buying the car it refused to start.  He called the RACV who said it was the battery but they suggested he get a quote for the head gasket as they had noticed the car was blowing white smoke.  The RACV mechanic got the car started and my son drove it a few blocks to a place where he could buy a battery.  The car was idling so badly it stalled once and died completely just before he got there.  He walked to the battery place, bought a new battery, walked back to the car and installed it.  The car did start again but it was still idling badly and he noticed the needle on the temperature gauge was rising which it hadn’t been doing before so he drove it across the road to a nearby mechanic.

My son lost the dream vintage car he got for his 18th birthday when he drove it for several blocks despite the temperature gauge showing it was overheating and the engine blew up.  It happened just days after he got it which gutted him completely.  Ever since then he has been paranoid about overheating in older cars so he wasn’t about to take any chances at all when this one began to overheat.

The mechanic told him the problem was the head gasket and said it would cost up to two grand to fix.  When asked they said Highpoint Motors were likely to have known about the problem before they sold him the car.

My son called Joe, the Highpoint Motors used car salesman, to complain and see if they would honour the warranty they should have given him.  Joe said the car was no longer his problem.  My son borrowed my car and went to confront Joe in person.  Joe was a little more disposed to be helpful with my angry son in his face so he referred him to another Joe who works at a garage called “Attwell Tyre and Front End Service” at 49 Military Rd, Avondale Heights.  The Highpoint Motors Joe said he was sure Attwell Tyres could do the work for less than two thousand.  The mechanic at Attwell Tyre & Front End Service, also named Joe, said they would do the work for 1500 dollars maximum.

Attwell Tyre & Front End Service in Avondale Heights did do the work but they added 400 dollars to the 1500 dollar quote without clearing it with my son.  They told him Joe, the Highpoint Motors salesman, authorised extra work when it became clear the car needed it.  Joe denied doing this and the Attwell Tyre & Front End Service Joe changed his story and said the extra work had to be done because the car would not start after they completed all the other work.  He also changed the claim that the extra work cost 400 dollars.  In the end he said the extra work cost 200 dollars and said the other two hundred dollars was for GST.

Joe, the mechanic at Attwell Tyre & Front End Service, said the car had a blocked radiator, a hole in the water pump and a faulty thermostat.  He said the entire cooling system had to be replaced as well as a blown head gasket.  He initially said Highpoint Motors should have known about the faults but, after speaking to Joe from Highpoint Motors, he changed his story and said they may not have known.

A search for information about Attwell Tyres turns up a lot of useless entries which is what happened with the Highpoint Motors search.  A search of the full name, Attwell Tyre & Front End Service, turns up a lot of location listings.  Nothing comes up that would help someone who might be thinking about using this mechanic.  I am hoping the repeated use of the names of these two businesses will result in this entry turning up so people will be able to see what they might get if they use them.

To be fair to Attwell Tyre & Front End Service, however, I should point out that part of their charge was a towing fee as they paid to have the car towed from the first place my son took it, to their place, which cost around 70 dollars.  They also dropped the price by 200 dollars after my son argued they were charging GST twice as GST is usually included in the price of individual parts.

I still think people should be warned though as nobody should have to pay an extra 200 dollars for work they have not agreed to have done and, when my son asked to see the replaced parts, they didn’t have them.

My son doesn’t have 1700 odd dollars so he called Highpoint Motors again after he got the bad news from the Attwell Tyres Joe and, after a bit of a run-around, he once again got told the car does not belong to Highpoint Motors so it is not their problem.  He figured it was time to collect all the paperwork and seek legal advice.

That’s when he discovered the car was not registered in his name.

Highpoint Motors had arranged to do the paperwork but, when my son called the Motor Registry to find out where the ownership transfer papers were, they told him the car was not yet registered to him.  He was informed that Highpoint Motors would be liable for a thousand dollar fine for failing to transfer the registration over within 14 days.  By that time it was nearly three months since he had purchased the car.

The sensible option seemed to be to go over Joe’s head and speak to his boss.  My son called and asked to speak to the manager.  He was told the managers name was George but he was moving furniture at their other car yard.  When my son called back he was told there was nobody named George working there and the bosses name was Sam (Sandro) Fallone.  They took a message and told my son they would get Sandro, aka Sam, Fallone to call him but Joe called instead.  He wanted to know why my son wanted to speak with Mr Fallone and my son eventually admitted he was hoping to negotiate with Sam Fallone for Highpoint Motors to pay the thousand dollars toward the repair bill instead of paying it as a fine.

More time passed and my son agonised over whether to make the complaint that would get Highpoint Motors fined and lose his bargaining chip or wait and hope Sam Fallone of Highpoint Motors would be willing to negotiate.  Finally, he went to Highpoint Motors in Maidstone and confronted Sandro Fallone, who explained they had transferred ownership of the car to my son and had given the Motor Vehicle Registry a good excuse for having taken so long so there was no question of them being fined.

My son called the MVA who said car yards do get extra time to lodge papers and that they don’t usually fine anyone anyway so that was the end of that.

My son can’t prove Highpoint Motors knew about the mechanical problems when they sold him the car and he doesn’t have the money to pay a lawyer to argue that, since the car did not belong to him when the repairs were done, Highpoint Motors should pay for the repairs.  Sandro (Sam) Anthony Fallone, the proprietor of Highpoint Motors, was unavailable right up until he had managed to sort out the potential fine and he has made it clear that my son is on his own now.

My son will have to borrow the money to collect the car and he was so crushed I wanted to go and punch Sam Fallone and Joe the dodgy car salesman on the nose myself but I am an old woman and don’t fancy being charged with assault so I came online to see what I could find out.  I was hoping to find information I could use to write an entry long enough to use the words Highpoint Motors, Sandro Anthony Fallone, Attwell Tyre & Front End Services often enough to make the search engines rank it high enough for it to show up in the first page or two of any search for those terms.

It is pretty cold comfort but there is comfort in the thought that, for years to come, people might find this entry and take their business elsewhere costing these two companies a lot more money than they ripped my son off for.  There is even more comfort in the thought that this entry might save one or more people from going through the distress my son has gone though.

So I typed “Highpoint Motors” and “dodgy” and this got the kind of results that “Highpoint Motors Maidstone” alone did not produce.  I found the following information on a forum under the heading “Dodgy Car Dealer“.  It was written by a forum user who calls him (or her) self “Kcboiye”.  You can follow the link but, in case it breaks, here is what is said there.

“2 months ago i brought a car from a 2nd hand dealer, and since having it, its givin me a heap of problems

at the dealership. they SAID they had it “roadworthy”, technicly i shouldnt of taken the car that day, because the the 2 rear windows didnt work (there electric), the front passenger door wouldnt open from the inside, and the spare tyre had a piece of 10mm square tube through it, but apart from that it was fine

this is were it became annoyin, i only got 1 month warrenty, and it took them 2 weeks to book the car in to have the door fixed, and an extra 2 days to fix it, i had to pay for the windows to get fixed coz i had enough of the dealer delaying me, 1 window works, turns out the motor in the rear drivers door is blown, i got the motor i just gotta put it in

and now the worst bit, the head gasket is blown, and its gonna cost me 1.2k to repair, i only had the car for 2 months, the radiator was loosin lots of water, there was no leaks, took it to the mechanic, and now turns out the head gasket is broken

so for anyone else buyin a second hand car, i wouldnt recommend buying from Highpoint Motors in highpoint vic”

I found it a bit of an ominous coincidence that this customer also ended up with a blown head gasket on a car bought from Highpoint Motors so I took a look at the paperwork my son was given after ownership was transferred.  At the top, under their ABN and LMCT numbers, were the words “Dealership Clearance Centre”.

I searched that term and what I found were sites that sold “broken” or “damaged” second hand cars so that raised questions in my mind that hadn’t occurred to me until then.

Does Sandro Fallone get his stock from places that sell cars with serious damage such as broken head gaskets?  Does he get them cheap because of the problems, do temporary work that hides the problems for a month or two, then sell them with little or no warranty so customers will get stuck with repair costs?  Is he making his profits by selling damaged and broken lemons at Highpoint Motors to unsuspecting buyers like my son and Kcboiye?

I wondered if anyone else had written about being ripped off by Highpoint Motors or Sam Fallone so I tried additional search terms and found a comment on another forum.  This was written in response to someone elses complaint about dealers by a user who called himself “aydofc” and he, or she, said:

“I have still yet to come across a used car dealership that I would trust! The last two cars I bought from used car dealership have been massive lemons, yes, that is my fault for not getting a RACV check but I have learnt my lesson, no more Highpoint Motors, or Car City.”

Did this person also end up with a blown head gasket in the car he, or she, bought from Highpoint Motors?  I would love to know the answer to that question!

One forum user posted a link to the Motor Car Trader Key Register.  I followed the link and saw three conditions have been added to Highpoint Motors licence.

“1. The licensee shall give written notice to the Business Licensing Authority of the full name, date of birth and capacity of employment or engagement of every person who is employed or otherwise engaged in or by the licensee’s motor car trading business in any capacity within 7 days of employing or engaging the person.

2. If the Business Licensing Authority is satisfied that the Licensee has failed to maintain effective control of its motor car trading business or has allowed any person or company to carry on the business (either in their own right or in partnership with the licensee) where that person or company is not licensed to do so, it may, of it’s own motion or on the application of the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, impose a restriction on the Licensee’s motor car traders licence under section 14 of the Motor Car Traders Act 1986 preventing the Licensee from engaging in motor car trading transactions with the public for a specific period or indefinitely.

3. The Licensee shall provide to the Business Licensing Authority all documentation or information relating to its motor car trading business requested by the Business Licensing Authority within 7 days of the date on which the request is made, failing which the Business Licensing Authority may, of it’s own motion or on the application of the Director of Consumer affairs Victoria, impose a restriction on the Licensee’s motor car traders license under section 14 of the Motor Car Traders Act 1986 preventing the Licensee from engaging in motor car trading transactions with the public for a specific period or indefinitely.”

It sounds to me like Highpoint Motors, and Sandro (Sam) Fallone, have had problems before and he has wriggled out of them by blaming employees or by doing the dodgy with paperwork.

He has done the same thing to my son.  My son was told their excuse for not transferring the registration was that the girl who should have done it went on holiday for three months and they didn’t know her password so they couldn’t get into her computer.

Must be nice to work for a boss who gives you three months for your holidays and who does not have the password for your computer so he can’t keep an eye on what you do in his business or under his name!

I wonder if a fourth condition will be added to Sam Fallone’s Highpoint Motors business license some day saying any employee who uses the computers at Highpoint Motors must supply any passwords used on those computers to someone within seven days of setting a new password?

I don’t know if Mr Fallone, or an employee, gave the Motor Vehicle Registry the same excuse they gave my son but it appears the licencee of Highpoint Motors, Sandro (Sam) Fallone, definitely does not do the right thing with his paperwork and he definitely does put the blame for that on his employees.

If I were looking for a job I would think twice about working for Sandro Anthony Fallone as I would not want to risk being blamed for dodgy business practices and I strongly urge anyone who is after a second hand car to be very careful indeed if they are thinking about buying one from Highpoint Motors!

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