The consumer’s issue:
“I had a problem with the blind on my panoramic sunroof, so I took my car to my local dealership to get it repaired. However, when I submitted a claim under my extended warranty, the warranty provider refused it because the parts were not included in my plan. I was offered a settlement amount, but I haven’t accepted this, and the dealership who carried out the repair thought that this was also a valid claim. I am therefore looking for the warranty provider to settle my repair bill of £3,007.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The repair to the sunroof is excluded, as the warranty only covers mechanical and electrical failures.
- We would usually consider the blind of a sunroof to be declined, as it is upholstery, whilst the frame would be excluded from the policy as it forms part of the bodywork and the structure of the car.
- We made an offer to cover 100% of the cost of the labour and 50% of the frame, as this contained the motor, which is electrical, and we think that this is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator initially recommended a 50/50 split between the parties, noting that the policy wasn’t clear about whether a repair like this should be covered or not.
- However, after making enquiries with the repairing dealership, The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator upheld the complaint.
- That’s because the dealership said that, in their view, the repair was either mechanical or electrical, and would not be considered as upholstery or bodywork.
- The accredited business (the warranty provider) disagreed with this as they felt that the dealership, who also sold the car, had a vested interest in arguing that this should be covered under warranty.
- As such, the complaint was referred to the ombudsman for a final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman upheld the complaint, but for slightly different reasons.
- She noted that the issue is not whether engineers can tell if a part is upholstery, bodywork, electrical or mechanical. Instead, it is whether the average customer can tell this, considering consumers should be able to understand the policies that they buy.
- Looking at each component, the frame didn’t fit clearly into the policy, making it ambiguous, which should go in the favour of the consumer.
- The shade was considered to be a mechanical or electrical component because it has moving parts operated through a system and an electrical motor.
- She recognised that this is a fairly unusual component to have repaired under warranty, and no warranty can be expected to cover every component in a vehicle. However, on this occasion, it was deemed to be reasonable for the claim to be paid in full to the consumer.
- A recommendation was also made to revise the warranty policy to prevent this situation happening again in the future.
- The accredited business was held in breach of the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Warranty Products, as the information provided was unclear, and was directed to pay the customer’s claim in full. The ombudsman’s final decision was accepted by both parties and the case was closed.