High-end customers in Qatar’s automobile market are complaining about the monopolistic structure of the country’s premium car market. A section of local social media is abuzz with complaints about ‘arbitrary’ behaviour of some car agencies and dealers.
Customers, especially Qataris, claim that car agencies are demanding an extra 20 percent to ensure early delivery of vehicles. “Should you need a timely delivery, pay extra or wait for a few months” seems to be the slogan of agencies.
Customers grumble that they have to wait for up to six months after the launch of a vehicle and say this is happening because of the monopoly of a few car agencies.
When contacted, The Peninsula received mixed reaction from leading agencies. While some denied, some others neither denied nor admitted that they were charging extra 10-20 percent for timely delivery of vehicles, but asked this daily to submit a detailed questionnaire to be responded to later.
Some commentators have written that many agencies are intentionally holding the delivery of latest models of cars, especially the luxury ones. Customers allege that once the limited new models arrive in Qatar, senior employees of some agencies book them in their names and ‘re-sell’ them to some highly excited customers at higher prices.
“Many agencies in Qatar are exploiting customers by denying them the latest models of cars until six months of their official launch. Those who are offering, they charge 10-20 percent extra price compared to the prices in neighbouring markets,” wrote a commentator on a social media forum recently.
A section of potential buyers have complained to the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, urging the Consumer Protection Department to intervene immediately.
“Although these practices are becoming common in the GCC States, in Qatar, they have become rampant,” said another customer.
“Executives at car agencies and dealers should not be allowed to book more than one car in their names unless they are booked for personal use.
“And if they book more than one car, they should not be allowed to sell all of them within the same year. The erring dealers and agencies should be blacklisted,” he said.
However, industry leaders deny the allegations.
“The allegations about holding the latest models of luxury cars for six months or charging extra money are completely baseless. The fact is this is a competitive market and customers will have to deal with both the extremes,” said the manager of a leading car agency.
Another section of Qataris is of the view that customers are to be blamed for the situation. “Why should we be so crazy about buying new cars every year, despite the fact that most of the time the latest models carry the same features or specifications of the previous ones? Changing cars every year is a sheer wastage of money,” they argue.