The Right2Repair campaign has been given another boost with the formation of Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA), a Section 21, not-for-profit company, specifically formed to champion the Right to Repair campaign initially launched in 2013.
Richard Clarke, chairperson of R2RSA, says industry stakeholders believe the formation of this new company is just what the campaign needs. “The Right to Repair campaign was initially spearheaded by the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA). As it has developed and gained traction it made sense for MIWA to join forces with campaign supporters such as Bosch, Grandmark and MAHLE to form an independent company solely committed to the progress of the campaign,” he says.
The Right to Repair campaign aims to allow consumers to select where their vehicles are serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice. “There is a need for a fair and competitive regulatory environment that enables freedom of choice for the consumers and gives aftermarket Small Medium Enterprises a chance to stay in business. South African legislature needs to follow the international Right to Repair trend which promotes South Africa’s existing consumer and competition laws. Our objectives are to raise awareness among consumers and bring about this legislative change,” says Clarke.
Right to Repair campaigns in Europe, the UK, the USA and Australia have successfully seen change implemented and in some countries legislated. “The status quo in South Africa cannot continue. It is exclusionary and unsustainable. Aftermarket repairers are being denied access to codes, tools, and information and parts are overpriced. Current exclusionary practices mean SMEs are being driven out of business, and job creation is restricted as is the growth of this sector. Denying workshops the chance to repair vehicles because of warranties and access to information has allowed Original Equipment Manufacturers to monopolise the automotive industry. If there is no change, workshops will no longer be able to service new vehicles sold in five years’ time,” explains Clarke.
Along with that Clarke says the anti-competitive situation means inflated prices for consumers. “Extended warranties are locking consumers into periods where firstly, they have no choice but to use the dealer for repairs and secondly, they are at the mercy of the dealer who can charge whatever rates he/she chooses.”
“Ultimately consumers are being denied the right to have their vehicle repaired at a workshop of their choice. We believe this also inhibits the consumer’s right to support local business,” he says.
The recent enquiry into the industry by the Competition Commission has brought these issues into the spotlight. “We would like to play an integral in the drafting of a code for the industry and will give our full support to the Commission’s action plan going forward. We want consumers to start questioning. We want to see change. We want equality and sustainability in our industry. R2RSA plans to make these things a reality,” concludes Clarke.