Right to Repair SA raises red flag on non-compliance

Right to Repair South Africa's (R2RSA) CEO, Kate Elliott, has expressed concern about the lack of compliance and awareness within the industry about the Right to Repair legislation.

R2RSA reports that only one in eight of the dealers visited in the Western Cape complied with the regulations. They advised that the price quoted for a new vehicle was for the vehicle alone, and that consumers were welcome to purchase a service plan separately. They also indicated that the vehicle’s warranty would be honoured if the buyer chose to service the vehicle elsewhere.

Although the staff at a Mercedes dealership knew the guidelines, they have not yet “unbundled service plans from the price of a new vehicle” and advised that “this would only be an option for consumers from February 2022”.

“But unfortunately,” said Elliott, “that is where any semblance of compliance stopped.” Visits to the remaining six dealers revealed a very different picture. Five of the six were adamant that the service plan could not be unbundled from the price of the car, and the last only admitted that the service plan could be purchased separately after much prodding. Most expressed doubt if they could honour the warranty if servicing was done by an independent workshop. The majority also advised the service plan was “free” to the consumer and expressed a general lack of awareness of the contents of the guidelines. “Just by way of illustration, a built-in service plan is never free and can range between R30 000 to R60 000 or more. Added to that, you are also charged interest on this when you choose to finance a vehicle. This is precisely why the guidelines requested this cost be unbundled from the purchase price so the consumer can assess their options and make an informed decision.

“One of the biggest issues we faced when approaching the dealers as a prospective customer was that the salespeople were providing false information about the guidelines, advising things such as “it is not set in stone” or indicating that the guidelines were not yet in force.

“We would like to remind the public that as the guidelines are already in force, if a dealer tries to convince you otherwise, they are acting in contravention of the guidelines and you can report them. We have great faith that if the guidelines can be implemented effectively, the automotive aftermarket will become one of the healthiest markets in the country to the benefit of all South Africans,” concluded Elliott.

Consumers who need help or want to check their rights in more detail can visit the R2RSA website on www.right2repair.org.za, or alternatively report non-compliance to the Competition Commission at https://www.compcom.co.za/lodge-a-complaint/.

Source: Cathy Findley Public Relations