Code of conduct battle begins

2017-11-23 06:00

RESPONSES to the draft code of conduct for the automotive industry are in and it’s clear that finalising the code is not going to be an easy process.

“We did anticipate a strong opposing response from the Original Equipment Manufacturers because the current status quo suits them just fine,” said Les Mc Master, Director of Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA).

“We agree that the code needs to be realistic and practical. In fact, we welcome a very practical implementation of change as soon as possible.

“The true reality in South Africa is that consumers can no longer be denied the right to have their vehicle serviced at a workshop of their choice and at an acceptable fee.

“For too long the OEMs have been restricting access and charging exorbitant fees. Things have to change,” he said.

Mc Master adds that the threat of disinvestment should not be used as a scare tactic to hinder change.

“Far greater reasons for disinvestment would more likely be the current volatile political climate and depressed economy.

“Of more concern should be the potential job loss factor in the SME aftermarket automotive sector if a code enforcing access to information is not implemented.

“Independent workshops will not be able to sustain their businesses over the next few years if the current restrictions continue.”

When it comes to service plans, Mc Master emphasised the aim is not to do away with service plans, but rather to give consumers the choice of whether or not they want a service plan.

“Consumers need to understand that they are paying a premium for a built-in service plan.”

He highlights that the European guidelines for competition in the automotive aftermarket have been tried and tested for 15 years.

A spokesperson for a replacement parts supplier and supporter of the R2R campaign, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the anti-competitive environment is in itself a latent and structural economic
defect, the consequence of which prevents progress, hinders consumers’ rights and avails the benefits to the few instead of the broader economy.

Mc Master agrees.

“OEM representatives are claiming that anybody can currently participate in the industry on the same terms and conditions.

“It should not be up to the OEMS to lay down these terms and conditions, which is currently the case.

“They should be based on internationally acceptable competition law.”

He said the RMI will continue to seek a solution that has consumers’ best interests at heart.

— Wheels Reporter.

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