They're worldly wise, have been travelling for years. But at the same time the Chilean cousins are a little naïve and now they're slapping themselves.
“It's so terrible and so sad,” says 31-year-old Chilean visitor Iguacia Jarpa. “I can't believe were so stupid – arrgh!”
Iguacia and 27-year-old cousin Pitar Fernandez bought a car on a whim at Auckland's Ellerslie Car Fair last weekend. It was a lemon, a 1996 Nissan station wagon for $2500, which blew up in the big dip at Te Puna.
“We had it for one day, just one day and this,” says Iguacia.
“I said to the man who sold it to us: ‘Promise us it is a good car. Promise us it will work'.” She is kicking herself now. “I told him this car would be our home until we found work. I told him the $2500 we gave him was all the money we had in the world.”
It mattered for nothing. There were no due diligence, no checks done. They didn't even lift the bonnet. They just wanted to get the deal done and get on the road. “The owner was happy to make a quick sale. “We know, we know; it was very silly.”
The cousins had been in Queenstown, flew to Auckland to buy the car and were headed to the Bay of Plenty for seasonal work in the kiwifruit industry.
“We did keep $500 aside – but now it's either food or the car being fixed,” says Pitar. But $500 might not cut it because repairs could run to $1000. Then the Warrant of Fitness expires in a month and the vehicle registration next week.
What they didn't know – and should have known had they checked – was $547.83 of work had been done to engine leaks on the car on February 16. It may have raised alarm bells for them.
So no job, nowhere to stay, no money and some bills looming. It's heads in hands and where to next.
The cousins did alert the sellers to their predicament. It was a heartfelt message.
“Hi guys, can't believe what just happened, we trusted you and you sold us a car that has failed…you think that's okay? I can't believe you would do this to innocent people. We want to try to reach your heart and conscience as the decent people we thought you were.”
The cousins asked the Auckland pair to transfer the money needed to fix the car…“or we will be forced to take legal measures. We will go to the Police. You will have a bad time”. The vendors were unmoved. “We are really sorry for you guys. We have been to the Police. We are not responsible for any damage you have done to the car.”
A classic lesson in caveat emptor for two visiting Chileans.
But the cousins have at least found a knight in shining armour – a sort of folk hero ‘Wild Bill' Hickok of Te Puna-type chap called Maurice, who works for the garden accessories outfit called Living Trends in Te Puna.
While another local charged the visitors $45 for taking a look at the engine and filling the radiator with the girls' own drinking water, Maurice arrived on his white charger.
And when he should have been working, he was restoring our international relations.
He took the girls in for the night on the deer farm where he stays. Gave them a bed and took them to the Whakamarama fish and chip shop for a Kiwi treat and also shouted them a couple of “cervas”. And if they wanted to stay the following night then, as far as Maurice is concerned, that would be absolutely fine as well.
To help out Pitar and Iguacia, email: firstname.lastname@example.org