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Global and local consumers are the big winners following the recent global and local announcements in relation to the sharing of information for motor vehicle repairs and servicing.
In November Massachusetts residents passed a ‘right to repair’ law to open up car data requiring car manufacturers to let people access vehicle data for repairs. Then on 18 December, following nearly a decade of campaigning by the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), the Australian Federal Government announced its intention to introduce The Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Information Sharing Scheme to Parliament in early 2021. The new law will make it illegal for car companies to withhold information from qualified independent mechanics – keeping the cost of replacement parts, vehicle maintenance and repair affordable.
South African consumers are the latest winners in this global move. Last week the Competition Commission published its final Right to Repair Guidelines, a major win, particularly for consumers and small, independent and historically disadvantaged service providers from July 1, 2021.
Decoding Right to Repair
Les McMaster, Vice Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) and a director of Right to Repair South Africa, (R2RSA), a Section-21 not-for-profit organisation, says the Guidelines have distinct implications for consumers, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Aftermarket Workshops (referred to as independent service providers or ISPs). They also highlight the critical and urgent need for sharing of information and training.
McMaster, unpacks the salient points everyone needs to know:
In South Africa, when consumers buy a new motor vehicle, they are typically sold a Maintenance Plan and/or Service Plan, which has historically been included in the purchase price of the motor vehicle. McMaster says most consumers are unaware that the purchase price of the motor vehicle is bundled with these value-added products. “The Guidelines are important as they promote transparency and now finally allow for product comparisons by consumers at the point of sale of a motor vehicle,” explains McMaster.
Approved dealers are now required to provide the consumer with complete disclosure of:
McMaster says in terms of motor vehicle parts
“This allows consumers to purchase Value-Added Products from any licensed provider of their choice, including Independent/ Third-party Providers,” he says.
To ensure that all the work carried out on a motor vehicle is traceable, Aftermarket Workshops, or ISPs, as they are referred to in the Guidelines, are obliged to record such In-Warranty work undertaken in the customers’ Vehicle Service Books.
In turn OEMs and/or Approved Dealers are obliged:
McMaster says the Guidelines clearly encourage OEMs to make technical maintenance and repair information readily available, including information stored electronically or in the cloud, to ISPs.
In essence they are obliged to:
Technical information, to which access shall be permitted to ISPs includes, but is not limited to the following:
“The Guidelines say in instances where an OEM discloses proprietary information or other intellectual property belonging to the OEM, the OEM may impose reasonable conditions, including the requirement that the ISP must sign a confidentiality undertaking,” notes McMaster.
Access to training
McMaster says access to training is a key component in terms of implementation of the Guidelines. “In order to effectively compete with Approved Dealers and Approved Motorbody Repairers, ISPs require support to access OEM brand-specific training and OEMs will need to take measure to provide technical training to ISPs,” he says. “The cost of the training must be provided at a reasonable cost that may not exceed that imposed on employees of Approved Dealers and the training must be sufficiently comprehensive to encompass the methods used to effect structural and mechanical repair, service and maintenance and fitment works on the motor vehicle,” he says.
“All of these aspects are great news for the consumer, increasing competition and allowing easier access to the market by independent service providers. Ultimately more competition always leads to better prices, better quality and better service. We can see that Right to Repair is gathering momentum globally too which bodes well for the motoring public,” concludes McMaster.