Buyer beware — Caravan scams on the increase

Buyer beware — Caravan scams on the increase

Since the Coronavirus forced caravan yards to close for public viewing, buyers have been looking online for new and used vans and recent experiences in Victoria could be replicated here in Western Australia.

Alas, the scammers are also noting this increase, especially those in Victoria. There have been 17 reports of caravan scams since October, compared to only two reports in 2019, according to Consumer Affairs Victoria. Scammers prey on those looking to buy a caravan in a hurry by advertising caravans online, then making excuses or taking advantage of lockdown limitations, to convince buyers to buy without seeing the caravan.

Buyers are persuaded to make a direct bank deposit while being promised they can come and collect the caravan. Or, it will be delivered. Unfortunately, once payment has been made the scammer stops communicating and the van is never received.

A Melbourne buyer fell for the scam after seeing a caravan listed on eBay last October. She planned on taking it on the big lap. Alarm bells started ringing when its delivery was expected to be on a public holiday. Numerous emails were sent, but received no response from the mysterious seller.

Caravan Industry Victoria has learned of 17 reports of caravan scams since October 2020 compared to only two in the previous year. Some have been scammed into shonky products while others into purchasing a caravan that simply did not exist. This is not being helped by the high demand for RVs and products, with wait times of up to one year for a new van.

Sales have increased 243 per cent during the past 12 months and this demand appears to be pushing consumers to find other alternatives to purchase a caravan usually at far greater cost, in more ways than one.

Concerned CEO of Caravan Industry Victoria, Rob Lucas, said: “Like anything we want or need if the offer is too good to be true, it usually is, and if you are in doubt about your caravan or RV purchase, speak to your State Association to help understand more about the purchaser where possible”.

Consumer Affairs Minister Melissa Horne urged consumers to make sure they see the product in person before parting with any money. “Being vigilant will save you a lot of time, money and disappointment in the long run.

“You wouldn’t just buy a car or home without doing checks; treat your new caravan the same way and that includes dealing with a manufacturer online or over the phone; they may not be who you think they are!”

This is not just a Victorian problem. There is a caravan body in all States who you should contact if in any doubt when looking for that dream caravan. Better still, go to a reputable dealership for your next purchase.