Car Yard Shonks


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Could this be Adelaide's�if not Australia's�worst used car yard?

Ben Buttigieg is already facing several charges of tampering with car speedos, but that hasn't stopped him from conning many unwitting customers who happen to answer his used car ads.

And Ben's learned all the dirty tricks from his equally notorious father Ron, who's still at it�ripping off hapless pensioners.

He's dishonest. He's happy to do illegal dealings with his cars and let poor consumers like ourselves and others take those cars and not have any qualms of doing it.

It's the oldest dirty trick in the car trade�rewinding the clock�and Adelaide salesman Ben Buttigieg has made it his own notorious trademark.

He's a cunning conman who couldn't drive on a straight road if he tried, and it's a trait that runs in the family.

Christian and Katherine Reynolds bought a 2002 magna sedan for almost 7 thousand dollars from Ben Buttigieg at his Clovelly Park car yard.

They were told it only had 155,000 on the clock and that entitled them to a warranty.

For a six-year-old car they thought that was a pretty good deal. A few days later they got the shock of their lives.

Instead of saying 155,000km it said 15,000km, so it seemed a whole digit was missing from the dash, but they didn't realise it at the time of purchase.

It didn't end there. They also discovered that the car they were driving for three weeks wasn't even registered, as Mr Buttigieg had promised.

"We were very shocked, very shocked," says Christian. "We didn't know what to say, whether it was a dodgy deal or what was going on, but obviously not right�couldn't be correct."

Ben didn't seem concerned with the situation. He explained it as an electrical fault on the dash, which didn't seem to make sense. Another lie, of course.

We know that when Mr Buttigieg bought the vehicle for $4,750 dollars just two days before he sold it to Christian and Katherine, the speedometer was working perfectly, showing the car had actually travelled 284,000 kilometres. Now, that's almost seven times around the world.

In less than 24 hours the digital speedometer had by hook (or as we suspect, by crook) lost more than a quarter of a million kilometres.

When we turned up with Katherine to seek an explanation, the fast-talking Mr Buttigieg was lost for words.

And while we were at his Clovelly Park yard, another unhappy customer showed up hoping to get back the deposit on a car.

The car was bought at an auction with 148,000 kilometres. It wound up in the yard with less than half that. We understand it's been changed again since we visited. Dr Nimit Singhal only twigged to the ruse when he did a Google search on the rego.

Ben Buttigieg's found it dead easy to fill the shonky shoes of his rascal of a father Ron, who once ran the yard himself. We busted him six years ago when he dudded battling pensioner Dawn Winter.

Ron Buttigieg tells people he's retired. That hasn't stopped him selling cars privately, of course. The old tiger hasn't changed his stripes. When he sold 79-year-old Doug Parkin a Mercedes van for almost $14 thousand dollars, he told him it had only done just 185,000 kilometres.

Soon after doing the deal, Doug checked the van's air filter, because the vehicle was running rough. The air filter had written on it the mileage and date the mechanic had serviced it in 2002. It showed 492,000kms in 2002 and four years later, it's only done half a million kilometres.

In fact, when Doug checked the service history with Mercedes, it had travelled almost 600,000 kilometres�roughly a round trip to the moon, or more than dozen times around the world. While in Ron Buttigieg's possession, the speedometer had been wound back a spectacular 424,000 kilometres.

The latest accusations against Ben Buttigieg come when he's already facing several charges of tampering with car odometers. We understand Consumer Affairs is now doing a lengthy investigation into the yard's sales.

In the meantime Doug Parkin is on a wing and a prayer that his Merc doesn't die on him, and he's resigned to never getting what he paid for.

As for Christian and Katherine, they're hoping Ben Buttigieg has a change of heart and refunds them their money. Fat chance of that!

Consumer Affairs are taking details from consumers who have also had problems with Ben Buttigieg. Their phone number is 8204 9777.