The consumer’s issue:
“The vehicle manufacturer is procrastinating, and is failing to repair my vehicle under my warranty agreement. My steering failed and the insurance assessor estimates it will cost £2,300 to fix. However, the manufacturer wants their own assessor to inspect the car before they consider the warranty claim. I think they are delaying the claim, hoping in the process that the warranty expires before they have to pay out. To stay mobile, I have had to hire a car because I travel long distances, and I also used taxis for some journeys. I refuse to make a claim for the repair under my insurance, as the vehicle is still covered by my warranty and the steering should not fail.”
The accredited business’ response:
- There’s no procrastination involved from us with regards to the repair or our liability under the warranty agreement.
- The customer made contact with us on the 07th February 2018 regarding a steering rack concern.
- We made several attempts to contact the consumer, but we received no response from them and closed the case.
- The customer then wrote to us again on 23rd February 2018, and again, we made numerous attempts to make contact, and did not receive a call from the consumer until 05th March 2018, but our case manager was unavailable at this time.
- We therefore called back the following day and the customer advised that the steering had failed on the vehicle and it was recovered to her house.
- The customer advised that she had spoken to her insurers who had quoted £2,000 for repairs. At this point, we said that we would be happy to review the case to see whether we could assist her, even though the warranty period expired at the end of February.
- We would also require a diagnosis from one of the dealers in our network to determine the reason for the issue, and whether the warranty would cover it i.e. it was a manufacturing defect. However, the customer refused to go to a dealership and disconnected the call.
- This is the last contact we had from the customer, and at no point have we advised that we will not assist.
- Nevertheless, the situation remains that if the customer wants us to review to see what we’re able to do to help her, she would need to obtain a diagnosis from a dealership in our network to determine the cause of the issues.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator remarked that it is the vehicle manufacturer’s liability to pay for claims submitted under the terms of the warranty. Those terms are binding on both parties.
- It was noted that one of those terms of claiming under the warranty is a positive diagnosis of a manufacturing defect by a retailer in the network, and that the work is carried out within the dealer network.
- The adjudicator noted that the consumer felt that this was unfair and they would not get an honest appraisal. However, they could not accept this argument to negate the terms of the warranty contract.
- The retailers are franchisees, where the manufacturer has to pay for the warranty repair work. This means that the retailer benefits whether the work is a warranty repair or not. If the work is covered by the warranty, the consumer does not have the choice to shop around for a better deal.
- The work is therefore guaranteed to be offered to the dealership compared to when the warranty will not cover it i.e. when the consumer has freedom of choice as to where to get their vehicle repaired.
- This meant the adjudicator felt that the logic of the consumer refusing to present their vehicle to the network was flawed, had caused their own loss and delays, and was in direct conflict with their obligations under the warranty agreement.
- To that end, the adjudicator could not agree the manufacturer had been at fault, which means that, if the consumer wishes to make a claim under the terms of the warranty, they will have to present their vehicle to the network for that assessment.
- The adjudicator equally noted that the warranty may have expired during the course of the dispute, so they made the recommendation that due to this, the vehicle manufacturer agreed to treat the consumer as if the warranty were active for this issue alone, and to allow assessment and potential warranty processing if the retailer deemed this to be necessary.
- The manufacturer agreed with the recommendation to allow the consumer to present their vehicle for consideration of the warranty claim as goodwill.
- The consumer did not respond to The Motor Ombudsman’s adjudication outcome or subsequent requests to confirm if they wished to allow the franchise dealer network inspection to go ahead for a potential warranty claim.