Choose your auto mechanic carefully

15/04/2016 09:34

Auto mechanics are the subject of discussion when it comes to buying or repairing motor vehicles. Most consumers lack the expertise or are cost- conscious whilst choosing garages. Some end up with unqualified mechanics or backyard garages that promise value for money but are unable to provide satisfactory services.

The Council has received 107 complaints against mechanical services from 2010 till 30 June 2013. Consumers have registered their complaints against mechanics who have failed to provide proper invoices and receipts, provided unsatisfactory repair works, , used second hand parts instead of genuine parts, carried out poor paint job, overcharged on spare-parts. Complaints have also been received where problems arose despite repairs carried out by the mechanics, repair works were not completed on time and appropriate redress were not provided to the consumers. Some mechanics tend to take advantage of the vulnerable consumers who simply want their vehicles to be roadworthy.

For instance in the case below, a mechanic took advantage of Mrs Joan’s limited knowledge on motor vehicles.

Case study

Mrs Joan could not start her vehicle. Since her husband was abroad, she was left to select a mechanic who could fix her car. She managed to scout a mechanic who seemed promising. The mechanic advised Mrs Joan that the vehicle’s “starter” needed repairs. The mechanic also promised to fix the vehicle in 3 weeks as he needed time to look for the spare parts.

At first, the mechanic charged only $200. However, every time Mrs Joan visited the garage, the mechanic advised her of different problems in the vehicle for which she would have to pay more. Mrs Joan ended up paying extra $500 without even understanding the problems described by the mechanic. To make matters worse, the mechanic failed to provide a detailed invoice.

The vehicle was not repaired after a month’s time and Mrs Joan decided to lodge a complaint with the Council. During mediation, the mechanic provided receipts and only agreed to refund $100. The mechanic claimed that he carried out other repairs apart from the “starter” problem. He refused to provide any further redress and Mrs Joan lodged her claim in the Small Claims Tribunal.

Through the Small Claims Tribunal Mrs. Joan received a refund of $860, which included the incidental costs such as taxi fare, phone calls etc.

Consumers are entitled to services fit for its purpose as stipulated in the Sale of Goods Act (Cap 230).

Section 62(1) of the Act states: “In every contract for the supply, in the course of a business, of services, there is an implied warranty on the part of the supplier that the services will be rendered with due care and skill and that any materials supplied in connection with those services will be reasonably fit for the purpose for which they are supplied”.

Section 62(2) further provides: “Where services are supplied in the course of a business and the person to whom the services are supplied, expressly or by implication, makes known to the supplier any particular purpose for which the services are required or the result that he desires the services to achieve, there is an implied warranty on the part of the supplier that the services supplied and any materials supplied in connection with those services will be reasonably fit for that purpose or are of such a nature and quality that they might reasonably be expected to achieve that result”..

The Council reiterates that consumers should be vigilant when choosing a mechanic. They should always look for mechanics or garages that are approved by the Land Transport Authority or opt for garages recommended by friends or relatives.

Consumers should ask for the cost-break down of all materials and labor charges.  This will protect consumers from being overcharged by the mechanics. 

Consumers also have the right to get their old parts from the mechanic once all works are completed.

Remember: Mechanics cannot charge you for unauthorised works on your vehicles.