Beware of environmental levy fees on cars

George Iny on legitimate and illegitimate environmental levy fees.

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From the November 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Q: “The dealer charged me $499 for an environmental levy. What’s it for?”

—Roger Annis, Vancouver

A: Several provinces impose a small charge of a few dollars to assist with battery and tire recycling. In Ontario, dealers pay $35 for an emissions test on vehicles more than two years old. No province has a levy in the hundreds of dollars. However, that doesn’t stop some new and used car dealers from incorrectly presenting the fee as a payment that will be made to a third party to reduce the environmental impact of the car you’re buying. They’re preying on the buyer’s green sensitivity at the time of sale for what is generally recognized as an environmentally insensitive purchase. When mystery shoppers have gone to dealers to see how environmental levies are being applied, they have found it very difficult to remove charges for fake “green” services. Unfortunately provincial regulators have been slow to punish offenders.

George Iny is the president of the Automobile Protection Association. Send him your automotive questions at ask@moneysense.ca

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