November 14, 2017
Majority of mechanics are good, but everyone’s heard a story or two that can make leaving your car with a mechanic a scary ordeal.
Motor vehicles are a large responsibility for people as it is one of their biggest investments.
All vehicles need maintenance from time to time and of course repairing when unforeseen breakdowns occur. However, most consumers lack the expertise whilst choosing garages to get their vehicle fixed. This is where the witty mechanics play their dirty tricks on unsuspecting consumers.
The Council has received 134 complaints against mechanical services in the past five years with a monetary value of more than $115,000. Consumers have registered their complaints against mechanics who have failed to repair cars as expected. Complaints have also been received where the vehicle encountered problems despite repairs being carried out, repair works being incomplete, repair works being substandard and appropriate redress not provided to the aggrieved consumers.
Some mechanics tend to take advantage of the vulnerable consumers who lack knowledge on the systematic functions of their vehicle and rely on the mechanics to make their vehicles roadworthy. A similar situation was faced by Arthur.
A stroke patient, Arthur gave his car to a garage for repairs after an accident earlier this year. He paid $5000 cash for the service. After a few weeks, Arthur was contacted to pick his vehicle as it was repaired. At the time of pick up, the mechanic did not provide him with a receipt.
Once at home, Arthur noticed that the car was not repaired properly and the mechanic had used the old engine parts. When the matter was highlighted to the mechanic, he claimed that the engine parts were defective and replacing it with a new one would incur additional costs.
He told Arthur that he could not find the car parts in Fiji and he had to buy the parts from Australia. When Arthur demanded for the receipt, the mechanic issued an invoice. Arthur decided to contact the company in Australia to ascertain the facts. He was informed by the company that the documents given by the mechanic were fake.
When confronted by Arthur on the fake document, the mechanic behaved rudely.
Not left with much options, Arthur lodged his complaint with the Council seeking a refund of the money paid to the unscrupulous mechanic for the substandard work carried out by him. After the Council’s intervention, the mechanic provided Arthur with $2000, which Arthur accepted.
Consumers are entitled to appropriate services as stipulated in the Sale of Goods Act (Cap 230). Service providers must ensure that the services they provide are done with care.
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 for any repair, consumers should get an estimate in writing. A cost-break down of all materials and labor charges will protect consumers from being overcharged by the mechanics. If you are still questioning the repair costs, then it’s better to get a second opinion. Consumers 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 also have the right to get their old parts from the mechanic once all works are completed. Also note mechanics’ cannot charge you for unauthorised works on your vehicles