A fairer place to do business
Kate Elliott, Chief Executive of Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA).

1 July marks the first anniversary of the coming into effect of the Guidelines for Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket (“the Guidelines”).

While there is still a lot of progress to be made, Kate Elliott, CEO of Right to Repair SA, says significant progress has been made over the last 12 months making the automotive aftermarket a fairer place to do business.

“We have seen some great strides in compliance from the OEMs. Special mention goes to Volkswagen SA who have really lead the way in embracing the Guidelines, in both offering the consumer more choice, and supporting independent service providers with technical information so that they are able to properly service the VW vehicles that are brought to them,” she says. Other brands that have made positive strides are Ford, Toyota, Volvo, Isuzu, Suzuki and Mercedes.

Elliott says dealers have also embraced the Guidelines, recognising the value of opening up their workshops to cater for a variety of brands. A Honda dealer, for example, is now no longer limited to only servicing Hondas. The dealer can service a Toyota or BMW - there is no limit.

“What’s most important is service excellence. Qualified mechanics with good workshops and access to technical information can service any vehicle. It is not necessary to specialise. This applies to dealers as much as it does to independent workshops,” she says.

Elliott says the remainder of the market is slowly catching on and excellent progress has been made wherever complaints have been laid against OEMs who have not put their implementation practises in place quickly enough. She confirms there has been absolutely no backlash against any of the complainants who have laid a complaint against an OEM or dealer and all complaints that have been resolved so far have been settled on an amicable basis. Complaints are being settled anywhere between a few days and a few months confirms Elliott.

“What we would like to see going forward is consumers feeling empowered to stand up for their rights.  We would like to remind consumers that they have the power and the backing of the Competition Commission and organisations such as ourselves.”

Giving consumers more choice is after all what the Guidelines have been set out to do. Elliott reminds consumers that non-compliance with any section of the Guidelines can be reported directly to the Competition Commission. “Consumers are also welcome to contact Right to Repair for assistance. The complaints procedure is  clearly outlined on the Right to Repair’s website. The process is quick, straight forward and free,” she concludes.