May 2013

Right to Repair Campaign aims to put consumers in control of maintenance decision-making

The Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), which represents 2 200 independent aftermarket dealers, has announced the launch of its Right to Repair Campaign. Vishal Premlall, Director of MIWA, says the Association believes that South African legislature needs to follow the international Right to Repair trend which promotes South Africa’s existing consumer and competition laws.


“There is a need for a fair and competitive regulatory environment that enables freedom of choice for the consumers and that gives aftermarket Small Medium Enterprises a chance to stay in business,” says Premlall. The Right to Repair Campaign allows consumers to select where their vehicles are serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice.


Premlall says that MIWA representatives have been garnering information over the last few months from countries in Europe and the UK as well as Australia where the Right to Repair Campaigns have been successfully implemented and in some countries legislated. The launch this month marks the start of a six-month planning and submission phase based on a European plan with the ultimate outcome to change legislation in favour of the aims of the Campaign.


“Along with the aim to give motorists the right of choice regarding the aftermarket care of their vehicles, the Campaign aims to protect the rights of the independent operators to maintain, service and repair modern vehicles equipped with multiple electronic control units managed by complex software and multiplex networks,” he explains. The Campaign also commits to safeguard independent aftermarket operators’ right to exist, serve and grow. “Only strong, entrepreneurial competition will result in advantageous pricing for consumers and ensure that local businesses can continue to provide quality service in the neighbourhoods they serve and support,” he says.


In some instances the successful Right to Repair Campaigns in other countries have lead to the enactment of legislation which dictates that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are required to provide the same information to the independent aftermarket dealers as they already provide to their franchise dealers. Certain Right to Repair legislation also codifies the consumers’ right to choose its preferred dealer without fear of losing their warranty.


In terms of the spare parts industry, the Campaign will affect how genuine parts are perceived by customers and how warranties are affected. “In the past, aftermarket workshops were supplying the genuine parts but because they were not bought from the OEM Dealer Network, the warranties on these vehicles were made null and void. The Right to Repair Campaign will ensure that workshops can use these parts and warranties won’t be affected. Manufacturers who already supply the OEM’s with parts such as Bosch, Febi, Bilstein, FAG, etc. Will benefit because their parts will be seen as genuine and not labelled as pirate parts or clones. The challenge to the other aftermarket brands will be to prove that their parts are equal or better than the ones supplied as genuine parts by the OEM dealer network. The Campaign will now allow these alternative manufacturers to market their brands as suitable replacement parts,” explains Premlall.

“Access to information is increasingly important in an era of technological advancements. Not having access to certain information has allowed OEMs to monopolise the automotive industry by refusing to provide the requisite codes for security systems, diagnostic systems and telematics systems, but to name a few, to independent aftermarket dealers. Where the required codes are not available, the independent aftermarket dealers are precluded from repairing those vehicles which leaves the consumer with the franchise dealers as their only alternative,” he says.


“Both the lack of access to information and the stringent framework surrounding warranty, maintenance and service plans, minimises, if not destroys, the consumers right to choose and places OEMs and their franchise dealers with the exclusive control of that segment of the market. We at MIWA believe this imbalance needs to be addressed in South Africa as it has in other parts of the world, and we will be championing the cause,” he concludes.


About MIWA

MIWA is a trade association for the retail motor industry (RMI) representing various private specialists within the RMI, including those in the general repair shop sector, brake and steering specialists, auto electricians, driveline and transmission specialists as well as vehicle accessory centres.


Retail Motor Industry Organisation (“RMI”), is an industry body consisting of 14 Trade Associations, representing all the major sectors in the motor industry, established to provide professional and credible standards in the motor industry in South Africa.


For more on MIWA visit