Importance of spare car key

November 14, 2017

Buying a vehicle is one of the most important financial decision a person can make in his or her life. However, consumers when purchasing vehicles, tend to overlook significant aspects of the product.

The most important things which need to be considered are the physical appearance of the product, functionality, its warranty, and after-sales service.

Sometimes sales persons make false claim with little or no credible evidence to sell the product because of the commission attached to the sale. As a result, consumers are misinformed about the product they are buying.

Many consumers prefer buying second hand vehicles over brand new ones mainly due to the price factor. Hence the responsibility to properly check all necessary accessories at the time of purchase is important.

One should always consider pros and cons of buying a second-hand vehicle which may have hidden faults that can further increase the costs for the consumer in getting the vehicle repaired. Such was the situation in Mary’s case.

Mary purchased a second-hand Toyota Rush from a well-known motor vehicle dealer in Nadi for $35,000 by taking a loan. At the time of handover, only one electronic key was provided to the complainant.

When Mary pointed out that she should be given a spare key, she was verbally assured that a spare key will be arranged. Unfortunately, after receiving the vehicle Mary was not given any spare key. Later, the vehicle dealer informed Mary that the vehicle came with only one key and their supplier cannot provide the backup key as initially promised.

While Mary tried to take care of her lone car key, one day her handbag was snatched while shopping. She quickly consulted the locksmiths for assistance but they could not assist her. She then paid $100 to have the vehicle towed to the trader. Upon diagnosis, the trader quoted $4,777.70 for the replacement key since the internal computerized locking system of the car had to be changed.

Fortunately, the vehicle was under comprehensive insurance cover and Mary’s insurance company agreed to foot the bill. However, Mary’s ordeal did not end there as the trader went on to advise her that the parts ordered would take 3 months to arrive.

Frustrated, Mary then lodged her complaint with the Council. After the Council’s intervention, the vehicle’s locking system parts were arranged and the internal computerized locking system was changed within 15 working days.

Consumers need to be mindful of the fact that not every second hand vehicle comes with a spare key. The onus is on the consumers to ensure there is a duplicate key before vehicle is transferred to avoid situation faced by Mary.

The trader also has a responsibility to make full true disclosures to consumers at the outset. No verbal assurances should be accepted. Consumers should request such information in writing. As in Mary’s case, when the salesperson assured her that she will be provided with a spare key, she should have got it writing.

Consumers also need to consider the fact that electronic car keys are programmed to the internal computerized system of the respective car hence if the lone key is lost, the whole system would need to be altered proving quite costly.

Since consumers spend thousands of dollars, it is important that they prepare a list of things they need to check in the vehicle or seek clarification before parting with their deposit.

Consumers who have complaints with respect to similar issues against the service providers are advised to lodge their complaints with the Council on its National Consumer Helpline Toll Free Number 155 or visit the Council’s office in Suva, Lautoka or Labasa.