Have you experienced buying a brand new car and, in just a matter of weeks or months, you’re back in the casa to complain about the defective unit you just purchased?
Did the car maker simply tried doing repairs over and over again, annoying you to the point that you demanded a refund or a replacement for the “lemon” car, but to no avail?
RA 10642, or “An Act Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Purchase of Brand New Motor Vehicles”, has been signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III last week, providing a recourse for vehicle buyers who experience defects in their units within a year after purchase.
The law is the Philippine version of the “Lemon Law” of the United States which protects buyers from “lemons”, a term used to refer to vehicles that fail to meet generally accepted standards of quality and performance.
Salient Provisions of RA 10642
Among the highlights of the “Philippine Lemon Law” are:
1. The law is applicable to purchases of brand new 4-wheeled motor vehicles, except large commercial trucks and motorcycles.
2. The vehicle qualifies as a “lemon” if the car has been repaired four (4) or more times for the same defect but the same infirmity or defect continues to exist during the Lemon Law Rights period, defined as:
- within 12 months after the date of original delivery of the brand new vehicle; or
- the first 20,000 kilometers of operation
If the car is also out of service due to repair for a cumulative total of 30 calendar days during the said Lemon Law Rights period, the buyer is entitled recourse under the law.
3. Repairs may include replacement of parts, components or assemblies.
4. The remedies available to purchasers of lemon cars include:
- replacement of the vehicle with a similar or comparable unit, in terms of specifications and values subject to availability; or
- refund of the purchase price plus collateral charges, upon return of the unit to the dealer or manufacturer; or
- in case the consumer decides to purchase another vehicle with a higher value and specifications from the same dealer or manufacturer, the consumer shall pay only the difference in cost
5. The manufacturer, distributor or dealer adjudged to have violated the provisions of the law shall be liable to pay a minimum amount of P100,000 as damages to the aggrieved party, without prejudice to any civil or criminal liability they may incur under existing laws.
Although buyers have their recourse, car manufacturers, distributors and dealers are also afforded rights because the law does not cover defects that occur as a result of:
- non-compliance by the consumer of his obligations under the warranty;
- modifications not authorized by the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer;
- abuse or neglect of the vehicle; and
- damage to the vehicle due to an accident or force majeure
In order to avail of the consumer’s rights under the Lemon Law, the buyer must notify the manufacturer, distributor or dealer in writing of the unresolved complaint and his intention to invoke his rights under the law.
RA 10642 empowers the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to preside over any dispute under the Lemon Law that may arise between the car owner and the manufacturer, distributor or dealer.
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