The Repair Order / Job Card
The Repair Order, also referred to as The Job Card, is a contract between the dealership and the party acting as the vehicle’s custodian, to perform the task/s requested requested by the vehicle’s custodian.
Any complaint referred to an arbitrator or the courts will require the Repair Order and Invoice to determine the validity of the customers claim and the dealership’s culpability.
Understanding The Legal Obligations Of The Repair Order
First and foremost it is essential to understand that a signed Repair Order is a legally binding contract between the dealership workshop and vehicle’s custodian (usually the vehicle owner).
Clarifying The Legal Consequences of the Repair Order
Upon the signing of the job card, a contract is entered into whereby the dealership workshop undertakes to execute the request of the vehicle custodian in exchange for payment. In the case of Service/Maintenance Plans and/or Warranty Repairs the payment obligation is undertaken by the underwriter of the Service/Maintenance Plan or Warranty provider, whilst any items not covered by either Warranty or the Service/Maintenance will be the vehicle custodian’s obligation.
Importantly, when a dispute arises there could be serious consequences – either financial or reputational to the dealership.
The consumer in South Africa is protected by The South African National Consumer Protection Act No. 68 of 2008 (referred to as the CPA) which came into effect on 1 April 2011, and also has recourse to arbitration by the RMI (Retail Motor Industry Organisation), The Consumer Protector, The Office Of The Motor Industry Ombudsman, as well as the legal system.
This legislation protects the consumer and interpretation of the law is weighted in favour of the consumer.
The Service Advisor who interacts with the customer and raises the Repair Order is the representative of the dealership’s service department. It is therefore crucial that the Service Advisor understand their responsibility in ensuring that the Repair Order they have raised will stand the test of close scrutiny in the event of a dispute. The attention to detail will have a decisive role in determining the outcome of any arbitration.
It is an accepted standard that there must be supporting documentation for any costs that are billed, and is also a requirement of The South African National Consumer Protection Act No. 68 of 2008 (referred to as the CPA).
The Repair Order and supporting documentation form a legal manuscript that indicates the work requested, or required in the case of a Recall/Service campaigns, the work and labour operations that were carried out, the parts, oils and lubricants as well as consumables and components used in the work, and sublet work provided by outsourced service providers.
In the case of repairs, the Repair Order must clearly document that the work carried out was Reasonable and Necessary for the diagnosis and repair of a malfunctioning system or component.
Reasonable and Necessary must be established to be:
- Safe. The repair was necessary and related to the safety of the vehicle occupants, and also conveys that the completed work does not endanger the vehicle operation, occupants, or third parties.
- Effective. The work charged for has restored the vehicle to the manufacturers and/or industry standards of operation and function.
- Corresponds to the symptoms and/or diagnosis and repair of the customer concern under investigation.
- Consistent with the professional repair of the vehicle in terms of the manufacturers and industry standards of operation and function.
- Consistent with the most appropriate level of repair. This means for example that the repair was carried out by the replacement of a number of parts/components until the vehicle was repaired.
- In the case of service /maintenance work, is consistent with the manufacturers recommended policy for the kilometre interval.
The dealership will be held legally responsible if the repair is deemed to be Unreasonable or Unnecessary.
Unreasonable and Unnecessary includes the following principles:
- Not generally accepted by the industry or manufacturer as safe or effective in the circumstances.
- Not proven to be safe or effective based on authoritative evidence.
- Not in accordance with either industry or the manufacturer’s published repair procedures.
- Experimental – no basis or evidence that the work or components replaced, would resolve the defect.
- The work was not authorised.
- Repairs or work procedures that may result in either component damage or progressive deterioration of the vehicle and its systems.
- Repairs that were not necessary in the particular case.
- Parts replacement that was not necessary or ineffective.
- Repairs that are substandard.
- Frequent repair attempts that have not repaired the vehicle.
- Inappropriate, in that excessive duplication of test/repair procedures have not produced a satisfactory repair.
- Repairs not carried out in accordance with industry accepted standards of repair practice.
- Repairs improperly performed.
- Repairs that are overcharged.
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