Three times unlucky PMB motorist

2014-06-17 00:00

RUVI Naidoo was dismayed when his new Opel Corsa 1,6 OPC Nurburgring developed major engine trouble soon after buying the car from Key Pietermaritzburg in February.

“I had the vehicle for only two weeks with approximately 2 800 km on the clock and I encountered engine problems,” Naidoo said. “It had a slight miss on idle and when driving it didn’t have any power and it came to a point where the whole car started rattling,” Naidoo said. “I was told to bring the car to the dealership and they worked on it for approximately two weeks,” Naidoo said.

When things went wrong Naidoo decided to withhold his payments on the R322 000 financed deal. However, this is not advisable as non-payment can negatively affect your credit record.

Naidoo said the dealer and manufacturer, General Motors, had honoured his right to an implied six-month warranty in the case of defective products in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, to choose either a repair, a replacement or a refund. They replaced the Opel Corsa 1,6 OPC with a new car.

And that should have been the end of his story. “I had the replaced vehicle for two weeks, with approximately the same mileage as the previous vehicle, 2 800 km, and I had the same problem,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo said the dealership towed the car to its premises and gave him a courtesy car to use while it examined the second Corsa. “There was no feedback or a call for a week from Key Pietermaritzburg from the date I had given the car in. I called daily to find out the situation and was always given different excuses, so I decided to return the courtesy vehicle after a week and asked them to cancel the deal,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo said the dealership verbally agreed to cancel the deal, but later allegedly reneged when General Motors advised that it had honoured the warranty by installing a new engine and that it would not replace the second car.

Naidoo reluctantly accepted the car back.

But Naidoo’s troubles were still not over.

The evening after picking up the car, Naidoo said he was driving on the freeway from Pietermaritzburg to Stanger when the car broke down.

“The car just switched off while in motion at 120 km/h. I had no brakes, no lights and no power steering for about 500 metres. It was pouring with rain and I could not stop the vehicle,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo used the handbrake to stop the car, which he described as “unreliable and problematic” as it had placed his life in danger.

However, he said he had then gone into deadlock with the car dealership, which had refused to cancel the deal.

I asked General Motors Africa’s communications manager Denise van Huyssteen and dealer principal Mike Hall-Jones what went wrong.

Hall-Jones said the company had intended to cancel the deal but that it was waiting for General Motors’ forensic report on the engine failures. He declined to comment on whether a piston had cracked as suggested by Naidoo. He said the company had decided to cancel the deal with effect from last Thursday.

“In the customer’s eyes it might appear nothing was going on but we were resolving the problem.

“We have decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. The deal will be cancelled,” Hall-Jones said.

He said around 60 cars had been imported into South Africa and these were the only two that had experienced engine failure. Hall-Jones added that the car had cut out on the freeway because the fuel supply to the engine had been cut after a plastic hook under the fuel harness broke.

Van Huyssteen confirmed that Naidoo’s deal would be cancelled and “in the interest of good customer relations” the company would not charge him for mileage travelled.

“We sincerely value Mr Naidoo as our customer and sympathise with any inconvenience he may have endured,” Van Huyssteen said.

“While we do get it wrong at times, we strive every day to get it right the first time. We also get absolutely no joy when our customers are upset or frustrated and will do our best in every reasonable way or option to keep them satisfied.”

Van Huyssteen said every car sold was monitored throughout its warranty period and reported concerns investigated. However, she did not respond to my question, whether the cars had factory faults.

“If there are any part failures or defects on any vehicle, we will always honour our warranty and repair or replace the necessary components as per the terms and conditions of the new vehicle warranty,” Van Huyssteen said.

• Send your consumer complaints and compliments to Lyse Comins at consumer@3i.co.za

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