Driving Consumer Choice

Written by Topco Staff Writer

20/01/2022

By Cathy Jackson

 

Years of lobbying for a fairer, more level playing field for South African motorists have finally paid off with the publication of The Guidelines to Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket (“the Guidelines”).

Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA) CEO Kate Elliott, a seasoned expert on civil, commercial, competition, franchise and labour law is driving the charge to ensure the Guidelines are implemented fairly. “At the end of the day the Guidelines are there to support consumer choice, fair competition and competitive pricing. The very reason for R2R’s existence is to create better competition in the automotive after-market for the benefit of the consumer and all role players in the industry and the economy.”

The automotive industry is in fact the third largest sector in the national economy. While a large portion of this can be attributed to the manufacture and retail of new motor vehicles, the repair and service sector cannot be discounted. There are about 12.7 million vehicles on the road in South Africa and all of these will need to be serviced and repaired during their lifetimes.  Vehicle workshops that are operating in a truly competitive market will provide better and more affordable services and repairs.

Decoding the right to Repair – 4 main things you need to know

  • You have the right to choose your service provider

Independent service providers can now service cars both during the in-warranty period and after. “You may choose to service your vehicle at the dealer from whom you purchased your vehicle or shop around for the best price,” she says.  

  • Your warranty is protected no matter which service provider you choose

Elliott says previously, motor manufacturers would void the warranty if a vehicle was not serviced at the dealership. The Commission has now declared this practice as incompatible with the Competition Act. You are now entitled to take your vehicle to an Independent Service Provider (ISP) for your service or other non-warranty related maintenance during the in-warranty period.

  • You are entitled to use non-original spare parts

With cost always being an issue, the good news is that consumers can now shop around and are entitled to use non-original spare parts (for example oil filters) in your vehicle during your vehicle’s in-warranty period and manufacturers are not entitled to void your warranty. “It is no different to selecting a generic antibiotic – the same, just more cost effective,” she says. 

  • Unbundling of service/maintenance plans from the price of a vehicle

When you buy a car, vehicle retailers are now obliged to provide you with separate prices for your vehicle and for any value-added products that they might have on offer, such as service and maintenance plans. Car retailers are also obliged to sell you a new vehicle without a service or maintenance plan if you do not wish to purchase one. “You do the maths,” she says, “and you may be pleasantly surprised at just how much you can knock off the purchase price of your car.”

A win for the consumer, but do your homework

The removal of previous barriers is definitely in the consumer’s interest. The fact that technical information and special tools will now be even more accessible to independent workshops will help them tremendously in diagnosing and keeping the costs for the consumer down. Ultimately more competition always leads to better prices, better quality and better service.

“What is absolutely key however, is that motorists do their homework. We strongly advise motorists to make use of reputable independent service providers and make sure they have sufficient defective workmanship and liability insurance in place, something which, in terms of the Guidelines, all independent workshops are required to tell you. The manufacturers are entitled to void the warranty on a part which has been damaged as a result of the use of inferior parts, incorrect service procedures and/or faulty workmanship. This is where an independent workshop’s insurance will kick in and cover you. That is why only using reputable providers is key.”  

What to do if you believe that a manufacturer or dealer is not complying with the Guidelines

Right to Repair SA is integrally involved in the roll out of the Guidelines as well as supporting consumers in any dispute resolution. Any problems can be reported directly to Right to Repair who will assist and provide advice, or alternatively a complaint can be lodged with the Competition Commission. 

“By promoting and assisting with the adoption of the Guidelines for competition in the South African automotive aftermarket we hope to help the Competition Commission to achieve its objectives. It is a known fact that a competitive market makes for a healthy economy. Competition policy aimed at emulating free market conditions ensures equal opportunities for all businesses, stimulates economic efficiency and protects consumers.”

 

 

*Check out the latest edition of the Top Performing Companies publication here:

Regarding being profiled or showcased in the next edition of the Top Performing Companies publication, please contact National Project Manager, Twaambo Chileshe:

Telephone: 086 000 9590 |  Mobile: 072 126 3962 |  e-Mail: twaambo.chileshe@topco.co.za

 

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