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Kate Elliott, CEO of Right to Repair SA . Picture: SUPPLIED
Kate Elliott, CEO of Right to Repair SA . Picture: SUPPLIED

July 1 marks the first anniversary of the coming into effect of the Guidelines for Competition in the SA Automotive Aftermarket. While there is still a lot of progress to be made, Kate Elliott, CEO of Right to Repair SA, says significant progress has been made over the last 12 months making the automotive aftermarket a fairer place to do business.

“We have seen some great strides in compliance from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Special mention goes to Volkswagen SA who have really lead the way in embracing the guidelines, in both offering the consumer more choice, and supporting independent service providers with technical information so that they are able to properly service the VW vehicles that are brought to them,” she says.

Other brands that have made positive strides are Ford, Toyota, Volvo, Isuzu, Suzuki and Mercedes. Elliott says dealers have also embraced the guidelines, recognising the value of opening up their workshops to cater for a variety of brands. A Honda dealer, for example, is now no longer limited to only servicing Hondas. The dealer can service a Toyota or BMW — there is no limit.

“What’s most important is service excellence. Qualified mechanics with good workshops and access to technical information can service any vehicle. This applies to dealers as much as it does to independent workshops,” she says.

Elliott says the remainder of the market is slowly catching on and excellent progress has been made wherever complaints have been laid against OEMs who have not put their implementation practises in place quickly enough.

She confirms there has been absolutely no backlash against any of the complainants who have laid a complaint against an OEM or dealer and all complaints that have been resolved so far have been settled on an amicable basis. Complaints are being settled anywhere between a few days and a few months confirms Elliott.

“What we would like to see going forward is consumers feeling empowered to stand up for their rights. We would like to remind consumers that they have the power and the backing of the Competition Commission and organisations such as ourselves.” Giving consumers more choice is after all what the Guidelines have been set out to do.

Elliott reminds consumers that non-compliance with any section of the Guidelines can be reported directly to the Competition Commission. “Consumers are also welcome to contact Right to Repair for assistance. 

What happens when an OEM declines your warranty?

Elliott says 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 ombud, 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,” says Elliott.

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 for example 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 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 or manufacturer.

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 says that consumers who come across noncompliance 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. 

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