Ford has made a key change to its cars sold in South Africa – and other companies are set to follow

Automotive company Ford has announced changes to its vehicle service plans in South Africa to align with the country’s new automotive aftermarket guidelines.

The guidelines are the outcome of more than a decade of complaints received by the Competition Commission from independent service providers (ISPs) and other industry players about exclusionary conduct at all levels of the automotive aftermarket supply chain. These are informally known as ‘Right to Repair’.

As of 1 November 2021, Ford said that its service plans, which were previously included as standard on new Ford cars sold in South Africa, have been unbundled from the vehicle’s purchase price.

Further, customers who choose not to purchase a Ford Protect service or maintenance plan have the option to have their vehicle serviced at a Ford franchised dealer.

“Ford is acutely aware of consumers’ growing desire and right to choose where they wish to service, maintain or repair their vehicles,” said Neale Hill, president of the Ford Motor Company Africa.

“As a result, we have been working to implement the systems and processes necessary to unbundle the Ford Protect service plans,” Hill said. “It has taken some time to deal with the complexities of unbundling the service plans from the price of the vehicle, but we have now implemented the changes, and customers can choose to purchase these separately when buying a new Ford.”

While customers can select where to service their vehicle, it’s important that they familiarise themselves with the guidelines, Hill said.

“For example, if you choose to service your vehicle outside of the Ford dealer network while you have a Ford Protect Service Plan in place, Ford is not obliged to pay the Independent Service Providers (ISP) for any services rendered.

“The ISP cost will be for your own account – and although the Ford warranty remains in place, should there be a failure as a result of the parts used or the workmanship of the ISP, that portion of the repair may not be covered by the Ford warranty.”

More companies to follow 

More companies are set to follow Ford after the guidelines officially took effect in July 2021.

The guidelines aim to increase consumer choice. Once in effect, they will permit consumers to repair their motor vehicles at service providers of their choice, noted legal firm Bowmans in an analysis of the new changes.

Moreover, consumers will be able to choose whether to fit original or non-original spare parts to their vehicles and will be able to source these spare parts from ISPs of their choice, regardless of whether their vehicles are under warranty or not.

“Whilst consumers are afforded increased choice; the commission cautioned that consumers ought to still be aware of the potential risks involved with maintenance and repair work by a third-party ISP, and in particular, the risk that certain provisions of the warranty on the motor vehicle may become invalid or void in circumstances where the selected ISP is found to be at fault,” Bowmans said.

“The commission reminded consumers that where disputes arise with their service providers, dealers or insurers, they should approach the relevant complaints department at the dealer or OEM and follow the internal complaints procedures.”

If no resolution is found, recourse may be had to the Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa (MIOSA).

Where conduct is potentially in contravention of the Competition Act, consumers may also approach the commission directly, where appropriate relief may also be sought.


Read: Government to clamp down on foreign drivers in South Africa

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Ford has made a key change to its cars sold in South Africa – and other companies are set to follow