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The fight against “approved” car repairs in South Africa

The need for approved vehicle repair workshops is currently under investigation. The Competition Commission plans to uncover why there are so many restrictions related to the need for owners to have their vehicles repaired at specific workshops.

The Sunday Times stated that, the Commission has looked into “manufacturers, insurers, panel beaters, parts suppliers, and salvagers” to attend a workshop where these issues may be discussed.

The Commission is apprehensive about the fact that motorists are given predetermined workshops or dealerships, where they are forced to take the cars for repairs, as directed by the insurance companies or car manufacturers. The penalty for not takin your car to an approved dealership, is the warranty may become invalid. Using non approved parts, results in the same outcome.

Due to motorists concerns and complaints of exorbitant pricing, the Commission is attempting to engage the industry, in order deal with and eliminate any anticompetitive conduct. A black panel beater from Ladysmith is just one of the complainants that have gone to the Commission with their concerns. This panel beater reported Toyota to the Commission after being rejected to become an approved workshop. The reporter felt that the decision was racial, as shortly after his application was rejected a "white man" got his application approved.

Another complaint was laid by The South African Auto Repair and Salvage Association, suggesting that approved workshops were an "old boys club of insurers and repairers". However, Toyota South Africa responded by saying that their service providers are selected via a very specific criterion, with just one of the criteria being appropriate geographic representation According to the Association, black-owned repairers are less likely to be chosen to be approved workshops by Toyota. Their approved workshops are made up of 95% white owned repairers vs 5% black owned repairers.

Protecting customers
According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, it is important that manufacturers protect customers’ interests in order to their safeguard brand value. The warranty of a vehicle forms part of this brand value, meaning vehicles need to be repaired with certified parts and be well maintained to original equipment specifications.

The Association believes it is unreasonable and impractical to expect vehicle manufacturers and vehicle importers to warrant repairs by third parties over which they have no control, especially if the warranty and maintenance plans come with a vehicle.

With that said, the fight against approved car repairs continues with many initiatives and individuals adding their voice and fighting to see change in industry. It is safe to say that we should expect to see a change, in the approved car repair constraints, in the future.

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