Heading for a crash! Trade Board, used-car dealers on collision course over warranty
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Trade Board and Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association (JUCDA) appear set for a head-on collision as the latter has refused to accept the Government's policy of six-month warranties on specific features of some of the vehicles they import for sale.
According to Ian Lyn-Muhammad, a former president of the JUCDA, the Government is using a high-handed approach to develop the policy, which is sucking the lubricant out of the industry.
Lyn-Muhammad said the most recent round in the "war between the Trade Board and JUCDA over the policy introduced in April 2013 without consultation with players in the industry ..." is now being dealt with through the courts.
"Nowhere else in the world is there warranty more than 30 days on used cars. In the United States, they have what is called the Lemon Law, and that is only for 30 days. Nobody gets any six-month warranty," Lyn-Muhammad told The Sunday Gleaner.
While refusing to comment on the specific charges by Lyn-Muhammad, Trade Board Chairman Benthan Hussey denied that no consideration is being given to the future of the used-car dealers.
"I don't know that anyone can say the Government is killing the used-car industry because the evidence is not there. But we are looking at the existing policy which affects both new- and used-car dealers," said Hussey.
"If there are issues and concerns raised they will be discussed. The industry is a dynamic one and the current discussions are to continue evaluating the policy to the benefit of all the players. They are being countenanced in the current dispensation," added Hussey.
The former JUCDA president also admitted that talks are under way in this dynamic industry.
"The JUCDA and the Trade Board are working towards a solution. But suffice it to say that a six-month warranty on a used car is unheard of in the world and must not be allowed to become policy," added Lyn-Muhammad, as he argued for a policy similar to the Lemon Law which is applied in America.
In the United States, the Lemon Law provides a remedy for purchasers of cars and other consumer goods. The law seeks to compensate for products that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.
"If dealers are going to be responsible for what happens to cars they sell for up to six months, buyers are going to have to pay more. It is as simple as that," said Lyn-Muhammad.
The controversial amendments to the policy paper tabled by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce became effective in April, and reads in part:
"All certified used motor vehicle dealers and brokers must provide warranties in accordance with the following guidelines, determined by the vehicle's age and odometer reading. Class B Warranty: Six months or 7,500 km/4,660 miles, whichever is attained first.
"Class B Warranty is applicable to vehicles manufactured more than four years, but fewer than seven years before the sale date, with an odometer reading of less than 106,000km/65,867miles.
"Class C Warranty: Three months or 4,500 km/2,796 miles, whichever is attained first. Class C Warranty is applicable to commercial vehicles manufactured more than six years but fewer than 11 years before the sale date with an odometer reading less than 178,000 km/110,607 miles.
"The warranty covers the parts mentioned in the following schedule: engine; transmission; differential; steering gear; drive chain; front end; major electronic components (computers, air- conditioning system, general electrical system); and suspension system."