Car owners fume over soured deals

Georgiou’s dealership at centre of claims

The Georgiou Future Investments car dealership in Newton Park has been accused through various court cases of conning customers when selling cars to them.
The Georgiou Future Investments car dealership in Newton Park has been accused through various court cases of conning customers when selling cars to them.
Image: Werner Hills

From a Mustang to an Audi, in a series of cases before court a group of car owners claim to have been shortchanged by Port Elizabeth businessman Philip Georgiou.

All allege they were left hundreds of thousands of rands out of pocket – or without the vehicles they were promised.

Georgiou, dealer principal of Art Holdings International (Pty) Ltd, trading as Georgiou Future Investments, an upmarket dealership in Fernglen, denies any wrongdoing.

Georgiou has filed notices of his intention to defend all matters before the Port Elizabeth High Court, as well as the city’s magistrate’s court.

Over the past year, several customers have implemented civil action against Georgiou Future Investments, including:

● Port Elizabeth lawyer Anel Botha, who said she never received the R180,000 for which her 2011 Audi TT was sold;

● Michelle Daykin, of Kentonon-Sea, who claimed to be owed R184,200 after her attempt to buy a Renault Duster 4X4 collapsed; and

● McCarthy Volkswagen Wonderboom, suing for R675,000 following an alleged breach in the contractual agreement regarding the purchase of a 2017 Ford Mustang 5.0 V8.

In the latest court matter, the former owner of the Mustang, Port Elizabeth businessman FC Marx, was dragged into the fray, with McCarthy citing him as a respondent.

With two judgments already issued against the dealership totalling R364,000, Georgiou’s lawyer, Deon van der Merwe, said they would now fight to have the respective court findings set aside.

The remaining matters would be defended.

Georgiou has since applied for leave to appeal the April judgment in which the high court had ordered the dealership to reimburse Botha the R180,000 for which her Audi TT was sold for more than a year ago – this after Judge Thembekile Malusi found Georgiou had misled the court.

Botha said in court papers she had initially entered into an agreement with salesman Andrew van Eerden on June 29 2018 to sell her vehicle for R220,000.

While two conflicting versions emerged about the sale agreement, Malusi found the evidence overwhelmingly supported Botha.

Botha had claimed that, according to the agreement, she would receive R200,000 and Georgiou the remaining R20,000 as profit.

Georgiou, however, said it was agreed Botha would buy an Audi A3 from him for R259,000 and that proceeds of the sale of her own Audi would be used towards this.

On July 26, Botha received an offer of R180,000 for her vehicle, which she accepted.

On July 29, a variation of the sale agreement was made.

Two conflicting versions of this new agreement again emerged in court.

Botha said it was agreed the purchase price of R180,000 would immediately be paid to her once the sale was concluded and that if she then decided to buy another car from Georgiou, she would immediately be given a R20,000 discount.

Botha said by then she was no longer interested in the A3.

Georgiou contended the agreement had been that the R180,000 would be used towards Botha’s purchase of the A3 and that she would receive an additional R20,000 discount.

Over the next two days, Botha returned all completed documentation, and the vehicle’s registration papers and licence, to Van Eerden.

She said she had then asked him to find her a cheaper car.

Botha said she had once again changed her mind and informed Van Eerden she had opted to no longer put down a deposit for a new vehicle and would instead apply for full financing – this meant she would rather pocket the R180,000 and apply for financing on a new vehicle, minus the R20,000 discount.

On August 2, Botha spotted her Audi TT being driven around the city.

On contacting Van Eerden, he told her the vehicle had been delivered to the buyer, but that registration had not yet been effected.

“[Botha] sent a WhatsApp to Van Eerden demanding that the purchase price [R180,000] be paid into her bank account before the close of business on August 3,” court papers read.

By August 11, when she had still not received her money, she threatened legal action.

A letter of demand was issued on August 14.

Port Elizabeth businessman Philip Georgiou
Port Elizabeth businessman Philip Georgiou

Having received no response by August 24, Botha went to the dealership, where, she said, an employee told her neither Georgiou nor Van Eeerden would speak to her.

Botha said she was shocked to learn from the new owner of the vehicle that it had already been registered in his name on August 6.

He also said he had received the Audi on July 30 and had paid a total purchase price of R210,000.

Botha accordingly slapped Georgiou with civil action on August 29.

In ordering Georgiou to pay up the R180,000, plus all legal fees, Malusi said a string of WhatsApp messages between Van Eerden and Botha had supported her version of events.

He said Georgiou had relied on selective communication.

“It is clear from the full set that the respondent [Georgiou] was misleading the court,” Malusi said.

Georgiou has, meanwhile, also brought an application to rescind a default judgment granted in the magistrate’s court on August 21, in which he was ordered to pay Daykin R184,200 plus interest.

In an affidavit seeking leave to defend the action, Georgiou blamed the previous owner of a Renault Duster, who had allegedly failed to settle his account with Standard Bank’s Stannic division.

Daykin had claimed that, after buying the 4X4 from Georgiou’s dealership for R184,200, she took possession of it on March 29.

She had traded in her own vehicle as part of the payment plan.

But, by April, Daykin said she had still not received the requested vehicle registration papers.

On May 22, it was finally established that the vehicle was still registered in the previous owner’s name and that he had a standing finance agreement through Standard Bank.

According to court papers, Standard Bank had sent a letter of demand to Georgiou on June 20, requesting that their account be settled.

When Georgiou failed to abide by the request, Stannic notified him of the cancellation of the sale agreement.

Unable to insure the vehicle, Daykin also opted to cancel the sale and asked for a reimbursement.

But with a hefty judgment against him, Georgiou has since hit back.

He said in court papers that he had required the original seller to settle the account with Stannic so he could accordingly effect transfer to Daykin.

“The seller emigrated in January 2019.

“At the time of his departure, the vehicle had not been sold,” Georgiou said.

He said Daykin had approached his dealership in March, and, after viewing the vehicle, made an offer to purchase.

“Upon receipt of the payment from [Daykin], [Georgiou International] attempted to contact the seller to provide them with a settlement letter from Standard Bank and to sign the necessary forms . . . so ownership could pass to [Daykin].

“Due to reasons that are better known to the seller, he did not assist,” Georgiou added.

He said this had ultimately led to the present dispute.

The matter is due back in court on November 14.

An unsuspecting Marx has, meanwhile, been roped into court action after he gave his Mustang to Georgiou International to sell.

In addition to facing legal action, Marx has been left without his beloved sports car and no money to show for it.

He had approached the dealership in mid-2018.

But, when he returned to the dealership some weeks later, the Mustang was no longer there.

He was allegedly told the vehicle had been sold to someone in Pretoria.

However, he alleged that, each time he attempted to find out about his money, there was an excuse.

John Barlow of McCarthy eventually reached out to Marx.

According to Barlow, McCarthy had bought Marx’s vehicle from Georgiou on September 18 2018.

They had paid over the cash, a total of R675,000, but said they never received the registration papers or settlement papers with Ford Financial Services, who had loaned Marx the money for the car.

The settlement amount with Ford was R599,687.

Marx, meanwhile, said he continued to reach out to Georgiou, to no avail.

He was contacted once again by Barlow in December, and opted to enter into a separate agreement with McCarthy in that they would settle the nearly R600,000 directly with Ford so they could get the papers for the car.

Marx, keen to get his money, agreed and signed a release on the papers.

On April 24, McCarthy slapped Georgiou with civil action for the purchase price of R675,000, citing a breach in the contractual agreement.

It is alleged the contract of sale was therefore void.

Marx’s lawyer, Dean Murray, said he would defend the matter.