The director and manager of used car vendors No Deposit Cars Malta have insisted they are doing nothing wrong, as they face customer complaints of alleged fraud and GPS tracking of sold vehicles.
“We stand our ground as the vehicles are registered in our names,” said manager Luke Milton in an interview at the company showroom in Qormi on Friday.
“As they [the cars] are the property of the company, I believe we have the right to have tracking devices on the vehicles,” he said, in answer to revelations by Times of Malta of the practice earlier this month.
Information and Data Protection Commissioner Ian Deguara has described the data tracking clauses in the company’s contracts as abnormal, unacceptable and invasive, saying they break EU privacy laws.
“It doesn’t mean that if you put something in the contract it’s legal,” he said.
No Deposit Cars is facing legal action by 26 customers who accuse the company of fraud.
When asked why it had supplied an insurance document to a customer in the name of director Joseph Camenzuli rather than the purchaser’s name, Camenzuli stressed the cars remain the property of the company until paid off.
He blamed abuses on customers from overseas.
“Our main problems are with the foreigners,” Camenzuli said, claiming the company had encountered instances of customers not making payments for over four months.
Our main problems are with the foreigners- No Deposit Cars Malta director Joseph Camenzuli
Milton said the insurance must be in the name of the vehicle owner and that the name of the customer would be named on the policy document.
“You have to understand the vehicle is registered to the company, so if an uninsured driver has an accident in the vehicle, the company is responsible, not the driver,” he said. “We would never have anyone who isn’t insured on their vehicle,” he added.
One insurance document examined by Times of Malta, however, did not include the name of the customer who bought the policy. Additionally, it stated that the policy was applicable only to other drivers in the employ of Camenzuli over the age of 25. The customer was aged just 19.
The Director General of the Malta Insurance Association, Adrian Galea, said that while some form of ownership is required to take out an insurance policy, he would expect customers to receive written proof of insurance cover if this was organised by a hire-purchase company.
When asked how the company determines if a car should be repossessed, Milton pointed to terms outlined in the contract.
While this is true, with reasons for repossession listed including outstanding payments for traffic fines, insurance cover and road licence, contracts shown to Times of Malta state the company can repossess vehicles “at any time, any place without any prior notice to the user” if it has “reasons to believe” the user is acting negligently.
When pressed on this point, Milton confirmed that prior notice is given in the event of outstanding monthly payments or insurance claims against the car.
In other instances, such as in the event of legal issues, customers are notified once their vehicles have been repossessed, he said, adding the company was contacted “weekly” by police regarding reports of hit-and-run incidents.
One customer Times of Malta spoke to, however, said she had paid No Deposit Cars Malta over €20,000 when the company repossessed her car from her place of work without warning, prompting her to believe the vehicle had been stolen.
Asked for the company’s reaction to the recent legal case filed by lawyer Jason Azzopardi on behalf of the 26 aggrieved customers, Milton said he was surprised by the action. “I find it funny because some of the names I saw written on that protest are clients that had no issues,” he said. “Most of the clients I just think [have] seen the opportunity to get out of a contract... which they no longer need now.”
In response to accusations of fraud by the claimants, Milton said that “allegations are allegations, that’s all I’m going to say. We’ll see the facts at the end of it.”
Early on Saturday morning, the company temporarily posted a video containing personal information on three of the complainants, accusing them of various failings.
By 11.40am, the video was no longer publicly available on the company's Facebook page.
It was a replaced by an amended version roughly one hour later. The revised version did not include the first client's photo and also obscured the ID card number listed included along with the list of fines. Clients' names were kept in the video.
The video also accused Azzopardi of having “personal interests”, which the lawyer dismissed as intimidation and bullying.