The Competition Commission recently published its competition guidelines for the automotive aftermarket in South Africa, which came into effect on 1 July 2021.
The guidelines aim to increase choice for consumers, as well as promote greater inclusion of small-and-medium-sized enterprises and historically-disadvantaged persons.
According to the guidelines, consumers will be allowed to service their vehicle at, or fit parts from, their preferred independent service provider (ISP).
They will also be allowed to fit original or non-original spare parts to their vehicle, as well as source these parts from their preferred ISP.
The legal firm Bowmans said these competition guidelines do not have the force of law, however, and that consumers must be aware of the potential risks involved with maintenance and repair work done by third-parties.
“The risk [is] that certain provisions of the warranty on the motor vehicle may become invalid or void in circumstances where the selected ISP is found to be at fault,” said Bowmans.
Is your car covered?
We contacted prominent vehicle brands in South Africa to find out if your after-sales agreement provides cover for ISP services.
“We believe the core of the guideline promotes customer choice and drives transformation,” said BMW South Africa.
“We are currently working on how to apply these principles as an OEM operating in the South African Aftermarket.”
“We will be implementing the guidelines in a phased approach,” said Ford South Africa.
If a customer purchases a Ford vehicle after 1 July 2021, they will receive the standard warranty and service plan.
“You may, however, choose to service your vehicle at an independent service provider, in line with the automotive aftermarket guidelines,” said Ford.
“It is, however, important to note that if you choose to service your vehicle outside of the Ford dealer network, while you have a valid service plan in place, Ford is not obliged to pay the ISP for any services rendered,” said the company.
“Although the Ford warranty remains in place, should there be a failure as a result of the parts used or the workmanship of the ISP, that portion of the repair may not be covered by said warranty.”
If a customer purchased a Haval vehicle prior to 1 July 2021, their current after-sales agreement will stay in place.
“This means that customers need to service at Haval Authorised service centres for the service plan to be honoured,” said the company.
The new guidelines will then be valid for vehicles sold after this date.
“It will become invalid in any case if a third party is at fault,” said Haval.
“The Right2Repair guidelines stipulate that: ISPs must disclose to consumers whether they have adequate commercial insurance cover to perform the work that they will be undertaking on the motor vehicle,” said the company.
Haval said that risks involved with servicing your vehicle at an ISP include decreased trade-in value, the potential lack of a properly-skilled workforce, and a potential lack of accountability from service providers.
Hyundai said the cost of the ISP service will be the vehicle owner’s responsibility.
“The customer must keep all records of such a service at an independent service provider if he or she wants to continue servicing the vehicle at Hyundai under the service plan.”
“If, for instance, the incorrect oil is used, and a failure can upon inspection be attributed to it, or if there is a failure related to the fitment of parts that are not approved by Hyundai or are not of the required standard, then a warranty will not be honoured,” said Hyundai.
“The customer will have to go back to the ISP for rectification or refer to the Motor Industry Ombudsman.”
Isuzu said that neither its warranties nor service plans would automatically become invalidated if a customer opts to service their vehicle at an ISP.
“Customers who opt to have vehicles serviced outside of the approved Isuzu dealer network will, however, have to pay for this work and any parts used themselves,” said the company.
“Any issues which may arise as a result of work performed by ISPs will be handled on a case-by-case basis,” said the company.
“Customers should be mindful that if their vehicle is not serviced or repaired correctly, at an ISP, it could have an impact on their vehicle’s factory warranty under the guidelines.”
“Isuzu cannot warrant, and it is unreasonable for it to warrant or accept responsibility for, any work performed by third-party ISP repairers,” said the company.
Mercedes-Benz said it will follow a case-by-case approach.
In the case of faulty services or parts, “Mercedes-Benz South Africa will conduct assessments to determine the cause of the failure and impact to the warranty/parts thereof,” said the company.
“There is a risk that certain provisions in the warranty will be voided should damage to a motor vehicle be as a result of improper fitment of a spare part by an ISP.”
Mitsubishi customers will only be able to service their vehicles at Mitsubishi-approved service providers if they would like to use their service plan.
“The [service] plan providers will not pay ISPs for the services rendered and this will be for the customer’s account,” said the company.
“[The] warranty will not be automatically voided if a non-authorised Mitsubishi dealer was utilized, or non OEM parts fitted,” said Mitsubishi.
“However, claim authorisations are subject to validation similar to authorised dealers to ensure compliance with manufacturer requirements.”
“Any damages and/or consequential damages caused to the vehicle from repairs conducted by a non-authorised Mitsubishi Motors dealership or the parts used is not covered by the OEM or Mitsubishi Motors South Africa.”
The standard Toyota after-sales agreement will not be affected by the competition guidelines, and the company will continue to offer its original and extended warranties and maintenance plans after 1 July 2021.
“A Toyota warranty may not necessarily be cancelled in its entirety due to the fitment of a non-genuine part – only the area affected by the fitment of non-genuine parts or repair could be voided,” said Toyota.