The consumer’s issue:
“My hatchback has suffered a mechanical failure of the automatic gearbox after 80,000 miles. The transmission is a component covered by my extended warranty, but the warranty provider refused my claim because an independent assessor concluded the failure of the gearbox was because of wear and tear, which is not included. I then commissioned my own independent report, and my assessor found that the cause of the gearbox fault was a sudden mechanical failure, so the warranty provider should be paying out for the repair. I’ve shared my assessment with the warranty provider, and they keep telling me they’ve asked for a technical opinion on my report, but nothing else.
Not only do I have a technical report in my favour, I’ve also had two garages look at my car, and they both agree that the warranty provider should be paying to fix the problem. I’m therefore looking for the warranty provider to cover the £3,600 it will cost to get the car back on the road.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The claim over the automatic gearbox was declined based on the report from our independent assessor, which concluded that the drive chain was worn and had been slipping on the drum.
- The consumer’s repairer is insisting that a weld has broken on the drive drum, so the customer had their own independent report carried out, which concluded that the fault was caused by a sudden mechanical failure.
- We sent this report to our assessor, who disputed the findings.
- We therefore asked the consumer to send us photographic evidence of the failed weld, but this has not been provided.
- A third engineer was asked to provide an opinion to settle the deadlock, and they agreed that there was no visual failure to the unit other than the wear to the pulley.
- We have constantly advised the consumer that if they can send us evidence of the broken weld, then we will look at the claim again but, so far, there has been no evidence that this part has failed.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator reviewed the evidence, and found that the technical information was conflicting and, therefore, the case was finely balanced.
- Because of this, they looked at which report was more persuasive based on the balance of probabilities.
- Even after doing this, they found both sets of reports to be convincing, and they felt unable to favour one over the other.
- Under the circumstances, they felt a fair way to resolve the complaint would be for both parties to contribute to the costs of the repairs, and to split the cost 50/50, so both parties would pay £1,800 towards fixing the gearbox.
- As such, the adjudicator partially upheld the customer’s complaint.
- The consumer, although disappointed, accepted the decision, but the accredited business did not, so the dispute was referred to an ombudsman for a final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman agreed with the adjudicator’s approach in this instance.
- They understood why the business sought to reject the claim, based on the views of their technical evidence. However, the consumer was also able to provide evidence that supported their side of the story.
- The ombudsman felt that, whilst neither report was definitive, the consumer had been able to supply enough information to raise sufficient doubts about the business’ position, so it was reasonable that the consumer should not have to bear the full burden of the costs of repair.
- The ombudsman agreed with the approach that the parties should each contribute 50% of the costs of the repair, and also partially upheld the complaint in the consumer’s favour.
- The consumer accepted the final decision, and the accredited business complied with the outcome. The case was therefore closed.