Industry NewsMotoring

You are obliged to protect your rights

Motoring consumers now have protection under the law. To apply and claim this protection though, understanding all the conditions of warranty and service agreements, is imperative.

By now most consumers will have heard about the new Right to Repair Guidelines for Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket (the Guidelines) where consumer choice has been placed front and centre of the repair and maintenance debate.

While it is important to know your rights relating to your right to choose your service provider/products, it is of equal importance to be aware of how to protect those rights.

What happens when you encounter what you believe to be non-compliance with the guidelines or an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) declines your warranty?

Kate Elliott, the CEO of Right to Repair, said for example in the instance when you bring your vehicle to an OEM with a suspected warranty fault, the manufacturer must, at its own cost, conduct an assessment of the vehicle and fault to ascertain the cause of the failure. “If the failure is a factory fault the OEM is obliged to honour the warranty. However, if the OEM declines your warranty without a valid basis your options are to either contact the Motor Industry Ombudsman, approach an attorney to take legal action or, if the basis on which the OEM is refusing to honour your warranty relates to any of the provisions of the guidelines such as making use of an ISP for your vehicle’s services, then you can contact the competition commission,” said Elliott.

Kate Elliot

In the situation described above where an OEM declines any part of your warranty, they must be able to provide evidence that failure can be attributed to external negligence, eg the work performed by an ISP, the parts/materials used by an ISP, or consumer negligence. She says only then is the OEM entitled to void the relevant section of your warranty.

The OEM is not entitled to void your warranty for the simple act of using an ISP or fitting a matching quality part of the accessory. There must be a causal link between the action of the consumer/ISP and the fault caused.

In the instance where the OEM does have a valid reason to void your warranty and can provide evidence that the fault was caused by an ISP/part fitted you are entitled to, in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, claim against any party in the supply chain (ISP, supplier, manufacturer etc.) If the ISP/supplier/manufacturer disputes your claim you are entitled to approach the Motor Industry Ombudsman or approach an attorney to assist you with your claim.

Elliott said that consumers who come across non-compliance with any section of the guidelines are welcome to contact Right to Repair for assistance or to lay a complaint directly with the Competition Commission by following the procedure clearly outlined on the organisation’s website.

Refreshingly, the process of laying a complaint is quick, straight forward, and free.

Source: Cathy Findley PR

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