Since the initial publication of the Guidelines to Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket (“the Guidelines”) in December 2020 and it subsequent implementation on 1 July 2021, the slow rate of dealer compliance has been flagged as an ongoing concern.
Chief executive of Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA), Kate Elliott says three months ago only Volkswagen was compliant in the Western Cape but this week Ford SA publicly announced its support for the Guidelines and confirmed that it has unbundled its value added products from the price of its vehicles. Neale Hill, President, Ford Motor Company Africa says, "We are committed to delivering the very best products, services and customer experiences, and are focused on treating each customer as part of the Ford family. Ford is acutely aware of consumers' growing desire and right to choose where they wish to service, maintain or repair their vehicles." Elliott says Right to Repair applauds Ford’s decision to honour warranties where customers choose to take their vehicles to an ISP for services.
She says it is important to note here that while manufacturers are entitled to void a section of a warranty where a customer brings in a vehicle with a fault and it is clear that the fault has been caused by low quality parts or poor workmanship on the part of an ISP, they are not entitled to void your warranty for the simple act of choosing to use and ISP instead of the dealer workshop. The same goes for the fitment of accessories. “For example the manufacturer is not entitled to void your warranty if you elect to fit a matching quality non-original tow bar or bulbar. There has to be a causal link between the action of the customer and the fault. So if your engine blows up after fitting a non-original tow bar, the manufacture can hardly turn around and void your warranty,” she says.
Elliott says R2RSA is of the firm belief that the Guidelines can be of benefit to all role players in the market if implemented correctly.
It is encouraging an even playing field and service excellence from all parties which ultimately benefits the consumer. It is also extending the scope of work for dealers. “Dealer workshops are now for example also permitted to service vehicles from manufactures other than their own. This will be of particular benefit to dealers who operate in smaller towns where they may not have enough of a consumer base of their own brand to operate at maximum profitability.” Elliott says at the end of the day a free competitive market always uplifts standards right across the market and improves cost competitiveness.
“We would love to see more of the manufacturers follow Ford’s lead and voluntarily embrace the Guidelines and make the best of the opportunities they provide. The Guidelines were not drafted to force anyone out of business, they aim to simply ensure that competition in the market is driven by price and quality rather than restrictive contract clauses,” concludes 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/