Question posted in the General Law category relating to Western Cape
I trust that you are well.
I took my car to a panel beating company and asked for a quote to spray the front bumper of my car which he quoted R1500 and then I asked if he could also align the front left headlight back into place which popped out in a minor accident, he quoted me R500 for that.
9 July I took the car in after paying a deposit, he said it would take about 2days for the job. My husband collected the car on the 11 July and I EFT the rest of the money (R700) but the light wasn't fixed. He did a good job spraying the bumper and then my husband asked about the front light he said it was the best he good do, but the light still looked exactly the same, no changes.
We contacted him again the next day and said that he should fix it or provide me with a refund so that I can take it to someone else to do the job. He said we should bring the car back the following week he will fix it. In that same week, 17 July my car went in for a service, which took longer than expected and then we couldn't take the car back that weekend. When my car came back from the service on the 23 July the front light was fixed, note that this was part of request or agreement with Bosch motors, they fixed this themselves.
We then contacted Chris the owner of Crous Customs for the refund since he hasn't done any work that we paid him for the light, I asked for the money back. Now, he refusing to refund my R500 he reason is that there is no refund because someone else worked on the car. I asked to see his refund policy and he was unable to show it to me because there was none, no notice nothing. and claims that he did the work but the light popped back out again, but when we got the car back, the light looked exactly the same. I searched for the business online and the do not even have a Facebook page or website. the workshop is in our road where we live that's how we came across them. I made it clear that if he won't give my money back I would have to take this further and he said that I should go ahead. I told him I happy with the spray job, I just want my money back for the light that he didn't fix. He feels that I need to pay him for work that was no done on my car.
My question is from what I have explained what are my options from a legal point of view, this guy is refusing to give my money back for work that he did not do on my car.
Can you please advise what I can and should do.
Answer to the Question
Hi there and thank you for your question,
I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.
I'm sorry to hear about the service that you received. In short, you need to look at the Consumer Protection Act ("the Act") to see how you are protected in this instance. You can read a full version of the Act here: https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201409/321864670.pdf You would want to look at Part H of the Act, specifically being sections 53 and onwards.
According to section 54 of the Act, you as consumer have the right to demand quality service. The services must be provided in a manner and quality that one would generally expect. e.g. if the mechanic says that he will fix the light, he must fix the light in the way that you would generally expect him to fix it. He couldn't just use Pritt stick to try glue it together.
In terms of section 54(2) of the Act, if a supplier fails to perform a service to the standards contemplated, the consumer may require the supplier to either remedy the defect in the quality of the services [this is what he was saying, i.e. bring the car back, I'll look at the light again] OR refund to the consumer a reasonable portion of the price paid for the services having regard to the extent of the failure.
So, you are entitled to demand a refund. This is the law. His "terms and conditions" or "policy" can't change this. He also can't say "let me fix it before I agree to a refund". YOU get to choose.
But how much of a refund - if that's what you want. I would say that if he fixed the light 50%, then he should be able to keep 50% of the charge and refund the balance. If he fixed the light 90%, then he should be able to keep 90% of the charge and refund the balance.
It sounds like it to me that he didn't fix the light at all, or if he did, that the fix was no good. If that's the case, then he should keep 0% of the charge and refund you in full for the cost.
This is the law. But if he disputes the amount that he needs to refund you, you will then either need to sue him in the small claims court or you will need to lay a complaint against him with the Motor Industry Ombudsman.
Under the CPA, the South African Automotive Industry Code of Conduct stipulates that businesses in the motor industry are obliged to register with the Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa (MIOSA). The MIOSA has no say in the day-to-day running of a business and its sole purpose is to adjudicate when a complaint by a consumer or a supplier is lodged.
A dispute must be submitted on the official MIOSA Assistance Request Form (ARF) and filed with the office of the MIOSA by either fax, email or pre-paid registered post. Once received, the complaint is logged on the system and an email is sent to the customer reflecting the case reference number, which is to be used in all future correspondence. Should the MIOSA receive an incomplete ARF, the complainant is contacted and asked to complete the document and resubmit it to the MIOSA. The case can’t progress until a completed ARF is received. The complaint will then be forwarded under a covering letter to the other party involved for their comment. The other party has 10 business days to send the MIOSA its comments. On receiving the response, the adjudication process will begin.
If the other party does not respond within the required 10 business days, a reminder is sent, purely as a courtesy gesture. After 2 business days have lapsed, the case is sent to a case manager for adjudication and finalisation, without the other party’s comments.
Read more here: https://www.aa.co.za/insights/dealing-with-bad-service
This might be a better idea than trying to sort it out yourself because essentially the Motor Industry Ombudsman would drive the process and would push for a resolution to the dispute!
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Information provided by client
Thank you for your answer, what if I do go to small claims court what are my chances of settling this before lodging it with the clerk. The guy I spoke to is very arrogant and is addament that I will lose this.
If I should write a letter of demand, what important things should i mention?
Answer to the Question
You should write a letter of demand. Definitely. You should set out the facts of the matter. That the light was broken. That he charged you to fix the light. That you paid him. That he didn't fix the light / didn't even try to fix the light. That you are entitled to your money back in terms of the Consumer Protection Act. That you've demanded the return of your money and that he has refused.
The small claims court is a very easy process. Simple to follow. You should definitely go through with it. Whether the matter will settle or not, I have no idea. It all depends on how arrogant this guy is!
Information provided by client
Thank you so much for your answers I appreciate the help!