R2RSA positive about progress

Right To Repair South Africa (R2RSA) says it is fantastic to see some of the big players finally embracing the spirit of the Competition Commission’s Guidelines for Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket.

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R2RSA CEO, Kate Elliott, says the organisation has been very impressed with the work done by Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) on all aspects of the guidelines.

“We are yet to be contacted by a member of the public with a complaint against VWSA relating to the guidelines and they have been the most transparent and open about how to make full use of the opportunities presented,” she says.

Elliott stressed that for the guidelines to be a success and create a truly competitive market where quality and price rule the market, R2RSA needs the big Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to step up and embrace the spirit of the guidelines and not just implement the bare minimum for compliance.

The final guidelines were published by the Competition Commission in December 2020 and were implemented from 1 July 2021.

The guidelines require OEMs to adopt strategies and develop business models that, among others, allow for independent service providers (ISPs) and historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs) to undertake service and maintenance while a vehicle is in-warranty.

The guidelines also place responsibility on OEMs to disclose certain information to consumers, such as the price of any pre-included service plan, maintenance plan, extended warranty or scratch and dent product, to enable them to make informed choices about the required future maintenance of their vehicles.

Elliott says R2RSA recently received the full details of how ISPs can access VW’s technical maintenance and repair information.

She says the offering has been carefully considered, allowing for a range of access options from hourly to annual access.

Elliott says this flexibility makes usage viable for ISPs that will most commonly service a range of different brands and may only need access to the information for each brand sporadically.

“The guidelines are in place to support consumer choice. For a consumer comparing models of vehicles in the same price and spec range, the fact that one brand is fully supporting the guidelines and sharing critical technical information with ISPs should be a big plus.

“In effect it means that consumers can choose their aftermarket ISP of choice with the confidence that the ISP has been provided with all of the technical information it requires to do a good job maintaining and repairing vehicles.

“We believe this may very well be the deciding factor in their decision on which vehicle to purchase,” she says.

Elliott added that a car is normally a consumer’s second most valuable asset after a home and costs a lot of money to maintain.

She says any opportunity to reduce maintenance and repair costs on a vehicle, while not compromising the integrity of the vehicle or the warranty, will be hugely valuable.

“The question is who will follow VW’s example?” she asked.

National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) chairperson, Mark Dommisse, warned last year that consumers faced a number of risks if they took their in-warranty vehicles with a service plan to non-franchised dealerships for service or maintenance.

Dommisse says consumers should remain critically mindful that if their vehicles are not serviced or repaired correctly, and at an ISP, this could still have an impact on their vehicles’ factory warranty under the guidelines.

However, Dommisse believes the guidelines will cause downward pressure on manufacturer parts pricing to the benefit of consumers, lower the high barriers to entry to the vehicle aftermarket sector and facilitate inclusivity and transformation.

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