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What are your rights when your vehicle breaks again as a result of soddy workmanship?

We still get a lot of enquiries from clients and consumers who feel that they have been ripped off.

A recent example was of a client who had his vehicle repaired by a service provider in Welkom in the Orange Free State.

 “My vehicle broke down on the N1 four months ago. I had the vehicle towed to a service centre in Welkom with an oil leak on the Gearbox. They ended up redoing the engine which took more than 4 months. After doing the engine on the vehicle and when it was still in their workshop; there was a bearing knock and they had to redo the engine again. I had already paid them R162 000.00 for this first repair and they then wanted to charge me again for the second repair even though they never returned the vehicle to me and they failed while the vehicle was still with them to repair it properly in the first place in terms of their quote. What are my rights?”

Well; what are your rights in these circumstances where you have had a vehicle repaired and then as a result of shoddy workmanship; which you have paid for; it breaks down again?

The Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008 came into operation at midnight on the 31st March 2011; and has been law since that date.

It changed Consumer Law irrevocably and the entire intention of the Act is to protect Consumers against unfair business practices.

In terms of the common law, you would have to prove negligence on the part of the service provider, and that could be difficult and require expert testimony; but now you can rely on the CPA.

What does the CPA say and how does it protect you here in these or similar circumstances?

The short answer is that there are a number of provisions in the CPA which protect you from bad workmanship or poor quality service.

Here are just some of them which can affect a contract to perform services or a mandate from a consumer to a service provider to repair a vehicle:

  1. The common law principle that a contract is voidable and can be set aside if it is based on improperly obtained consensus is confirmed in the CPA and even extended by the CPA. In other words, the service provider cannot be vague or just give you a very general, open quote for what he will do and which allows him to charge you what he wants at the end of the job.
  2. Section 40 is headed “unconscionable conduct” and prohibits the use of physical force, coercion, undue influence, pressure, duress or harassment, unfair tactics or any similar conduct in connection with any marketing or at any stage during the life of an agreement with the consumer. This covers a litany of sins previously exploited by businesses. It goes on to say that it is unconscionable conduct for a supplier to knowingly take advantage of the fact that a consumer was substantially unable to protect his/her rights due to factors such as illiteracy, ignorance of inability to understand the language of the agreement. The Court's powers in respect of such prohibited conduct are set out in section 52. Thus the service provider cannot place undue pressure on you to accept the quote or even the work that they carry out. It must be by mutual agreement and fair and reasonable at all times.
  3. An important provision is contained in section 41  dealing with false, misleading or deceptive representations is further bolstered by section 24 on misleading product descriptions and section 25 on the full disclosure of reconditioned or grey market goods. Thus you can insist on new parts and also genuine parts eg for your BMW or VW Poo, not pirate parts.
  4. Section 23 deals with the full and proper disclosure of a price and will effect quotes for labour and material and even an invoice or job card for work done or goods supplied on a vehicle as it the above case.
  5. Section 48 stipulates that the agreed price must be fair.
  6. Section 22 deals with plain simple language and section 50 deal with written agreements.
  7. The duties of the supplier are covered by section 54 which importantly gives you the right to safe good quality goods and services and obligates the service provider to perform the service agreed to properly and with due skill and reasonable care and to act at all times in good faith towards the consumer.
  8. There are also further sections being sections 63, 64 and section 65 placing a duty on a supplier to account properly and to secure, look after and account for the safe return consumer’s property.
  9. There may also be grounds for a service provider in terms of the CPA to be duty bound to reimburse and indemnify a consumer against any harm done or damages sustained by such a consumer while the goods are in their care.
  10. The bottom line is you can insist on good quality goods and services being provided to you, transparency and fair play and a fair price.

As to can be seen from the above list; a consumer now has solid legal protection from abuse by suppliers and service providers.

Each case must, however, be judged on its own merits and you should always seek proper, professional legal advice on the facts of your particular matter.

We are in the process of resolving our above client’s complaint and will in due course demand a refund from the service provider involved.

If you have experienced similar problems with service providers then contact us for assistance in resolving your issues.

Please visit our website at www.legaladviceoffice.co.za or send us an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will respond to your legal queries within 48 hours.

About our author:

Hugh Pollard (Legal Consultant), has a BA LLB and 42 years’ experience in the legal field. 22 years as a practising attorney and conveyancer; and 20 years as a Legal Consultant.

082-0932304 (Hugh’s Cell Number)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.legaladviceoffice.co.za

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