THE lemon law should be introduced in Malaysia to provide consumers holding onto “lemons” (nice to see but sour and tart to taste) an avenue for legal redress.This law is a remedy for purchasers of consumer products, particularly motorised vehicles, that repeatedly fail to meet the standards of quality and performance. A consumer may request for a reduction in price or a refund under this law.Countries like the United States, Singapore, South Korea, China and the Philippines have implemented the lemon law.In Singapore, it is incorporated into the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) 2004. We can do the same with our Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 1999.
> The nature of the problem;
> The number of days the vehicle is unavailable to the consumer for repair of the same mechanical issue;
> The number of repair attempts made;
> If the repairs cannot be completed within the number of days stated in the Act, the manufacturer is obligated to buy back the defective vehicle;
> The Lemon Law covers secondhand cars as well, introducing a Standard Vehicle Assessment Report checklist for visual, equipment and road test checks done concurrently by both the dealer and buyer to ensure transparency; and
> It covers a wide range of defects from aesthetics to mechanical related issues.
In most cases, the various defects detected in new cars leave their owners with little option besides taking their vehicles for repairs at authorised workshops.The Consumers Association of Penang has been receiving various complaints from consumers concerning car defects over the years. Many letters and reminders have been written to the car dealers and relevant government agencies but we have either received denials, evasive replies or slow response. Which government agency is responsible for monitoring the industry?Defective cars are not only a rip-off of consumers, they are also unsafe on the roads and a danger to other road users.
With the lemon law in Singapore, a consumer can:
> Make a claim for a defective product (also known as lemons) purchased within six months;
> Expect the seller of the defective product to repair, replace, refund or reduce the price of the defective product (subject to certain conditions);
> Get the defective product repaired within a reasonable time at the seller’s cost;
> Get the defective product replaced within a reasonable time at the seller’s cost; and
> Ask for a price reduction while keeping the product, or return the product for a refund if the seller fails to repair.
CAP reiterates that the government should introduce the lemon law in Malaysia to ensure that car manufacturers be held responsible for their defective products and to repair the vehicle satisfactorily as required by the law.The number of defective new cars that Malaysians are holding onto with no avenue for legal redress is worrying.
S. M. MOHAMED IDRIS
Consumers Association of Penang