I am not a lawyer. But allow me to enter the “turf’ of my colleagues lawyer-columnists Pachico “Cheking” Seares, Frank Malilong, Eli Espinosa and Eddie Barrita (all from the University of the Visayas College of Law) by discussing a legal matter. This piece is not for lawyers. I know most lawyers know this law already, but this is for ordinary people so they will know their rights, especially for those who purchase brand new vehicles only to immediately encounter mechanical defects.
Last week, I wrote a complaint from a customer against a car dealer when his newly purchased vehicle encountered a mechanical defect. The complaint, though, was already acted upon by the dealer and was settled. Did you know that there is a law concerning customers’ rights in the purchase of a new vehicle? It is Republic Act 10642, or “An Act strengthening consumer protection in the Purchase of Brand New Motor Vehicles,” or commonly known as “The Lemon Law.”
Why it is called “Lemon Law?” It originated from Great Britain. The British used the term “lemon” to refer to both a fruit and to a product of substandard quality. In the US, this federal law is called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The law was passed by our Congress in 2014. Aside from possible litigation, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) plays a big role in cases of complaints against brand new motor vehicles.
Here’s some of the pertinent provisions of this law.
SEC. 4. Coverage. -– This Act shall cover brand new motor vehicles purchased in the Philippines reported by a consumer to be in nonconformity with the vehicle’s manufacturer or distributor’s standards or specifications within 12 months from the date of .original delivery to the consumer, or up to 20,000 kilometers of operation after such delivery, whichever comes first. The following causes of nonconformity shall be excluded:
(a) Noncompliance by the consumer of the obligations under the warranty;
(b) Modifications not authorized by the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer;
(c) Abuse or neglect of the brand new motor vehicle; and
(d) Damage to the vehicle due to accident or force majeure. (Note: Masong’s unit did not encounter any road accident).
SEC. 5. Repair Attempts. -– At any time within the Lemon Law rights period and after at least four separate repair attempts by the same manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer for the same complaint and the nonconformity issue remains unresolved, the consumer may invoke his or her rights under this Act.
The repair may include replacement of parts components, or assemblies.
SEC. 6. Notice of Availment of Lemon Law Rights. -– Before availing of any remedy under this Act and subject to compliance with the provisions of Section 5 hereof, the consumer shall, in writing, notify the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer of the unresolved complaint and the consumer’s intention to invoke his or her rights under this Act within the Lemon Law rights period.
The warranty booklet issued by the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer shall clearly state the manner and form of such notice to constitute a valid and legal notice to the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer. It shall also clearly state the responsibility of the consumer under this section.
SEC. 7. Availment of Lemon Law Rights. -– Subsequent to filing the notice of availment referred to in the preceding section, the consumer shall bring the vehicle to the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer from where the vehicle was purchased for a final attempt to address the complaint of the consumer to his or her satisfaction.
It shall be the duty of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer, upon receipt of the motor vehicle and the notice of nonconformity required under Section 6 hereof, to attend to the complaints of the consumer including, as may be necessary, making the repairs and undertaking such actions to make the vehicle conform to the standards or specifications of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer for such vehicle.
To compensate for the non-usage of the vehicle while under repair and during the period of availment of the Lemon Law rights, the consumer shall be provided a reasonable daily transportation allowance, an amount which covers the transportation of the consumer from his or her residence to his or her regular workplace or destination and vice versa, equivalent to air-conditioned taxi fare, as evidenced by official receipt, or in such amount to be agreed upon by the parties, or a service vehicle at the option of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer. Any disagreement on this matter shall be resolved by the DTI.