Competition Commission calls for submissions on car service workshops and warranties

18 October 2017 - 17:55 By Wendy Knowler
File photo.
File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Do you believe that you should have the right to have your car serviced at the workshop of your choice without jeopardising your warranty‚ or are you convinced that only the franchised dealerships have the skills and experience to do a proper job?

Whatever your views‚ the Competition Commission would like hear from you - it’s calling for written submissions‚ typed or hand-written‚ on its draft code of conduct for competition in the South African Automotive Industry‚ which seeks to allow small independent auto workshops to undertake in-warranty auto-body repairs and give consumers more price and product options.

Deadline for submissions is November 3 - just two weeks away.

The Right to Repair campaign was started by the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) in 2013‚ and is supported by‚ among others‚ the African Panel Beaters and Motor Mechanics Association (APMMA)‚ which lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission in 2014‚ saying the accreditation processes imposed by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) was exclusionary.

Currently‚ for an OEM’s warranty on a car to remain valid‚ the owner is forced to have it serviced at the stipulated service intervals at an “approved” dealership. The proposed legislation would allow consumers to choose to have their under-warranty car serviced at any accredited service station‚ and the OEM would be forced to honour the warranty.

George Minnie‚ Autotrader’s CEO‚ reassured consumers yesterday that service plans were a separate issue. “The service plan is a product‚ where as a warranty is your guarantee that if something breaks‚ it will be remedied‚” he said.

“It remains to be seen how dealers will react and what they will do to recuperate lost revenue‚” he said. “But we have seen anecdotal evidence from developed markets where dealers take an initial dip in revenue‚ but it slowly recovers as the consumer returns to the dealerships or OEMs for their services.”

“The OEMs keep using safety as a reason for restricting access to vehicles under warranty‚” said Sisa Mbangxa of APMMA at an automotive aftermarket workshop hosted by the Commission earlier this year. "But what about the 70% of vehicles on our roads not under warranty? Is their safety less important?”

Loosening the OEMs' stranglehold would also have an impact on the insurance industry‚ said the SA Insurance Association’s Viviene Pearson at the same workshop.

“Premiums are becoming unaffordable because of the price of repairs‚” she said. “Only 35% of cars in South Africa are insured because consumers are under pressure. Alternate quality parts do exist and could go a long way to bringing down the cost of insurance premiums if used in repairs.”

MIWA directly represents about 2 500 independent aftermarket workshops‚ from start-up businesses to established workshops‚ with 43% of members being historically disadvantaged.

The need to level the playing field is countered by the OEMs' view that they have a right to protect the integrity of their product and consumers while they are the custodians of warranty‚ ensuring that vehicles are worked on with the correct skills and tools.

  • Email your submission‚ by November 3‚ to MziwodumoR@compcom.co.za‚ or post to the Office of the Commissioner‚ Private Bag X23‚ Lynwood Ridge‚ Pretoria.
X