The Truth About New Car Servicing
To give credit where credit is due, the car industry and their dealerships have done a fantastic job over many years in convincing the motoring public that you must get your car serviced at an authorised dealership and use only ‘genuine’ parts or you’ll risk voiding you new car warranty. This ‘urban myth’ is backed up by industry statistics which show that dealership retention rates directly correlate to the age of the vehicle – dealerships have the majority of the servicing market share of cars under 4 years of age while the overwhelming majority of out of warranty vehicles are serviced in the independent market.
This market distortion is perfectly understandable under the circumstances, why would anyone risk jeopardising the warranty coverage on the second largest purchase they will make in their lifetime outside the family home ? While the statistics clearly show that they would prefer to use their local independent repairer, it’s just not worth the risk. Right ?
So what is the position of the ACCC on this?
The ACCC have recently provided updated information regarding consumer rights and servicing cars. As an independent workshop owner, you may be asked by a customer if they’ll be voiding their new car warranty if you service their car.The answer depends on whether the warranty is offered by the manufacturer or if it’s an aftermarket extended warranty plan offered by the dealer.
In the case of a manufacturers warranty, you can confidently assure your customer that their manufacturers warranty will remain valid and so will their protections under the Consumer Guarantees Regime. However there are a number of important obligations put on any workshop servicing an in-warranty vehicle and these need to be followed to protect your customer and your business.
If it’s an extended warranty offered by a specific dealer (which usually kick in at the completion of the manufacturer’s warranty), imposing conditions may be permissible, however these warranties cannot replace the manufacturer’s warranty or the consumer guarantees. Many independent workshop owners offer their own extended warranties or instead choose to educate the customer on the many pitfalls that may be associated with them.
Try if you can to imagine a car servicing market where consumers are fully aware of their warranty rights and can choose their preferred repairer based on relationships, service, proximity and price, confident in the knowledge that their manufacturers warranty will be preserved, regardless of where they get their car serviced. This is not a pipe dream, this is Australian Consumer Law!
To make this scenario a reality we need to start working collectively as an industry to educate consumers on the facts and their rights under Consumer Law and we need every workshop in Australia to get behind this push to provide factual and consistent information to your customers.
To assist in this process, the AAAA has produced a brochure and FAQ fact sheet titled The Truth about New Car Servicing – A Workshop Guide to Explaining the Facts. It is important to point out that the ACCC have reviewed the content of this material and have indicated that they have no concerns with the accuracy of the information being provided.
We would encourage you to read the brochure and familiarise yourself with the different warranties as well as your obligations as a repairer when you are servicing new cars. A downloadable version of the brochure and FAQ is available on the Choice of Repairer campaign website www.choiceofrepairer.com.au. The FAQ is designed to be customised with your own business details and given to your customers to provide them with the facts and to give them peace of mind.
This brochure is the first in a series of 3 information pieces we will be we will be distributing over the coming months covering key topics in our sector. The next two brochures will provide you with accurate and verified information to educate you and your customers on the facts relating to Capped Price Servicing and ‘Genuine’ Parts.
The initial phase in this campaign is primarily aimed at educating everyone in our industry on these important issues. Phase 2 will be a consumer education campaign with the aim of ensuring that all car owners have accurate information on Australian Consumer Laws relating to car servicing to enable them to make informed choices regarding their preferred repairer and the parts used on their vehicle.
For further information visit www.choiceofrepairer.com.au or call the AAAA National Office on (03) 9545 3333. Or Call KPD Industries on 1300 780 141 to have a chat about some of the independant workshops we use around the country that provide excellent vehicle servicing and upgrade options.