Lawmaker wants Congress to enact a local version of ‘lemon law’

A LAWMAKER on Thursday urged Congress to enact a law similar to the “lemon law” of the United States to protect the buyers of motor vehicles, particularly those that fail to meet the standards of quality and performance.

Rep. Mark Villar (Lone District, Las Piñas City), author of House Bill 1966, said the bill will strengthen consumer protection in the purchase of brand new vehicles and provide for legal remedies to buyers who face the ill fate of lemon automobiles ending up in their hands.

Villar said lemon laws are American state laws that provide a remedy for purchasers of cars that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.

“If the car has been repaired 4 or more times for the same defect within the warranty period and the defect has not been fixed, the car qualifies as a lemon,” Villar said.

Villar said lemon laws were enacted to protect consumers from products that are plagued with serious defects. “Consumers who find themselves stuck with lemons can find redress through lemon laws,” he said.

“I believe it is appropriate to recommend the adoption into law of this proposed bill that would give ample protection to buyers who continue to be burdened retaining the lemon vehicle and paying the expensive cost without equitable redress for their unlucky fate,” Villar said.

Villar said it is one of the guarantees of the State under the Constitution to protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard products.

“The State declares to promote full protection to the rights of consumers in the sale of motor vehicles against sales and trade practices which are deceptive, unfair or otherwise inimical to the consumers and the public interest,” Villar said.

The bill shall cover brand new motor vehicles with non-conformity reported by the consumer within twelve months from the date of original delivery to the consumer or P20,000 kilometers of operation after such delivery, whichever comes first.

Under the measure, it shall be the obligation of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer to attend to the complaints of the consumer upon receipt of the motor vehicle and the notice of non-conformity required under this 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.

To compensate for the non-usage of the vehicle while 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, an amount which covers the transportation of the consumer from his or her residence to his or her 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-manufacturer’s efforts to repair the vehicle, the consumer may file a complaint before the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Under the bill, the DTI is mandated to exercise exclusive and original jurisdiction over disputes.  In case a non-conformity of the vehicle is found by the DTI, it shall rule in favor of the consumer and direct the dealer-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.

Villar said a P100,000 fine shall be imposed on car manufacturers, distributors or dealers who fail to observe the disclosure agreement.

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