Different iterations of the so-called Lemon Law, a law that protects the buyers of motor vehicles from products that \"fail to meet the standards of quality and performance,\" have been filed in both Congress and Senate. Unfortunately, the bills have never prospered beyond both Lower and Upper Houses.
However, that isn\'t stopping Rep. Mark Villar (Lone District, Las Piñas City), who recently filed House Bill 3199, which seeks to \"strengthen consumer protection in the purchase of brand-new vehicles and provide legal remedies to buyers who face the ill fate of lemon automobiles ending up in their hands.\"
According to the solon, with the fast-paced lifestyle of today, owning a motor vehicle is not considered a luxury but more a necessity to cope with everyday duties and responsibilities.
\"Coping with this necessity does not come cheap,\" shared Villar. \"Owning a motor vehicle is a big investment and could take a substantial chunk of one\'s savings. For some unfortunate buyers, an investment in this endeavor has become for naught after they acquired a lemon--or a vehicle that failed to meet the standards of quality and performance.\"
If the bill is passed, the vehicles that will be covered by Villar\'s Lemon Law are brand-new motor vehicles with defects reported by the consumer \"within 12 months from the date of original delivery to the consumer or 20,000km of operation after such delivery, whichever comes first.\"
The bill also clarifies that it is the obligation of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer to attend to the customer\'s complaints upon receipt of the motor vehicle and the notice of non-conformity as stated under the Act, \"making the repairs and undertaking such actions to make the vehicle conform to the standards or specifications of the manufacturer or distributor of such vehicle.\"
As compensation for the customer\'s non-usage of his vehicle while it is under repair \"and during the period of availment of the Lemon Law rights,\" the manufacturer shall provide the consumer with a reasonable daily transportation allowance, which shall cover the transportation of the consumer from his residence to his regular workplace and vice versa, equivalent to an air-conditioned taxi fare or a service vehicle at the option of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer.
If the consumer remains unsatisfied with the dealer or manufacturer\'s efforts to repair the vehicle, the consumer may file a complaint before the Department of Trade and Industry, which has the mandate \"to exercise exclusive and original jurisdiction over disputes.\" If the DTI finds a vehicle to be non-conforming, it shall rule in favor of the consumer and direct the dealer or manufacturer to replace the motor vehicle \"with a similar or comparable motor vehicle in terms of specifications and value, subject to availability, and accept the return of the motor vehicle, paying back the consumer the purchase price plus collateral charges.\"
A P100,000 fine shall be imposed on car manufacturers, distributors or dealers who fail to observe the disclosure agreement.
Too harsh a punishment or just right?
Photo from SXC.hu