The consumer’s issue:
“My car is equipped with roof carrier brackets, and I have used a well-known brand of roof bars with them. I followed the instructions on the removal of the trim covers to allow the roof bars to be fitted. After removing the roof bars, the covers would not fit back properly, and the manufacturer said I should have used their own make of bars, but there is nothing in the manual to suggest this. There are multiple statements about how to care for the car in other respects, but nothing in this section about using their own bars. The vehicle manufacturer has explained that they will not repair the damage under the terms of their warranty, which I am therefore disputing.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer first contacted us to advise that he had a roof carrier fitted to his vehicle, and upon the removal of the bars, the cover strips would not go back down and the subsequent indentation is allowing water ingress.
- We asked the consumer for photos of the issue and contacted our technical team who advised that the issue was the shape of the roof bars used as the feet had crushed the trim. We advised that our own branded option had a specific design to prevent this issue.
- The consumer’s problem does not relate to a manufacturing defect, and therefore, the cost of the repair cannot be covered by the terms of our warranty.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator noted that the warranty is provided to deal with manufacturing defects subject to a set of terms.
- However, the manual is intended to advise consumers of how to care for their vehicle. The adjudicator considered it was reasonable to suggest that if the manufacturer had designed their product to avoid what others did not, it should have been noted in the handbook.
- By failing to include this, when it was reasonably known by the manufacturer what damage other products cause that did not share their own design, the vehicle manufacturer effectively deprived the consumer of an informed choice.
- There was no suggestion of ill-fitting caused the bars to create this indentation, and The Motor Ombudsman was assured that the design of the bars was the cause.
- This failure to disclose the necessary information was a breach of Motor Industry Code of Practice for New Cars, and caused the consumer to be subject to the cost of the repair.
- The adjudicator recommended revisions to the print and online handbook and that the consumer’s vehicle be repaired without charge in this instance.
- The consumer accepted The Motor Ombudsman’s adjudication outcome, and the business is being followed up regarding the repair and recommendations.