Justice served

After almost five years of waiting Ian Dixon finally believes he has received the justice he deserves with the refund of the more than $100,000 he spent to repair his Toyota Yaris motor car which was damaged by ‘bad gas’ in 2015.

It is a similar story for Amory Campbell, whose Mitsubishi Lancer motor car was also damaged by the bad gas during the saga which affected many motorists in Jamaica between November 2015 and March 2016.

Dixon and Campbell are among 258 motorists who have shared just under $20 million already disbursed by the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) since it announced plans to start making an ex gratia payment to those whose vehicles were damaged by the bad gas.

A further 123 motorists are expected to share a little more than $4.5 million remaining in the fund established by Petrojam Ethanol Limited to provide payments to those who were affected by the bad gas and who had submitted a claim to the CAC.

“I felt an injustice was done to me, especially because it was a new vehicle. I was very upset so I decided to seek justice. My brother had a car that was also affected but he didn’t believe in the system. I was adamant that justice must be done because it cost a lot of money to fix the car,” Dixon told the Jamaica Observer.

“I never even remembered how much I had claimed, because it was so long, but I always said if it was even $5 I was to get I wanted it. It was really never about the money, it was my quest for justice because I bought a brand new vehicle and the damage was done to it by the bad gas,” added Dixon.

Dixon recalled that soon after buying the 2015 Toyota Yaris, the car shut off whenever he pressed the gas pedal hard.

According to Dixon, he took the vehicle back to the vendor, Toyota Jamaica, after the car shut down in the middle of an intersection on St John’s Road in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

“I was quarrelling with them because I thought it was a fault with the vehicle, not knowing that there was a bad gas pandemic going on. At Toyota, they fixed it and showed me that they had to change the injector nozzle which had been damaged.

“I went to the CAC, which I believe did an excellent job, despite the wait. While we changed political Administrations the CAC was very resolute in ensuring that persons got compensated,” said Dixon.

He underscored that even when he reported the matter to the CAC, in his quest for justice, he had little expectation of being compensated, but now he is happy that the system worked.

“When you go to buy gas, none of us know if we are getting good or bad gas until something happens, and when something happens and you do the diagnostics then it will tell you that it was bad gas, so you are totally dependent on a system to protect you as a consumer,” he said.

“Because there is a system in place, I believe that when something goes wrong the system must ensure that consumers are compensated. So I believed that it was a right and we deserved to be compensated because what had happened was unjust,” said Dixon.

“I must give a special thanks to [CAC head] Ms [Dolsie] Allen, who gave me her personal number so I could vent during the five years. She would always listen to what I had to say and finally, when the compensation was to be paid, I got a call and the service was really, really very good. It was one of the smoothest transactions I have done in my whole life,” added Dixon.

Campbell also had high praise for the CAC for the work it did to allow her to recoup the money she had spent to repair her Mitsubishi Lancer.

“It was a GDI (gasoline direct injection) vehicle, which means it had two gas pumps — a high pressure gas pump and a regular gas pump. The high pressure one was badly damaged and the regular one was also damaged, so both of them had to be replaced. The high pressure one was very expensive.

“It was after I fixed my vehicle that I got my mechanic to do the report and submitted it to the CAC,” Campbell told the Observer.

“To be honest, I thought that I would never get back a dollar, and when my husband said, ‘Do it, Amory, because you spent a lot of money’, I thought it was a waste of time, but eventually I did and the money has come at a time when I really need it.

“I am so thankful that I didn’t waste my time making that claim, and the process was really, really smooth for me to get the payment. It took me 10 minutes at the CAC to get the documents signed and done,” added Campbell, who decided to withhold information on the amount she received.

The CAC received 423 complaints of vehicles being damaged by bad gas.

Of that number, 287 were approved for full payment, 94 were approved for partial payment and 42 were found to not qualify for any compensation.

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