• Lawmaker re-files local version of US’ “lemon law”

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    A lawmaker seem to not lose hope as he has recently filed again the local version of the Lemon Law—similar to that of the United States—eyeing for the protection of buyers of motor vehicles.

    Rep. Mark Villar of Las Piñas City filed House Bill 3199–to provide security when buying brand new vehicles and provides legal remedies against those that fail to meet the standards of quality and performance.

    During the 15th Congress, House Bill 4841 (eyed to be the Lemon Law of 2011) failed short to be ratified into law, only gaining support at the Lower Congress.

    Villar was one of the authors in that measure. Other authors were Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy of Bagong Henerasyon, Ma. Carmen Zamora-Apsay of Compostela Valley; Susan Yap of Tarlac and Ma. Amelita  Villarosa of Mindoro Occidental.

    LEMON LAW EXPLAINED

    According to Villar, the antecedents of his proposed measure came from the United States and was made to “return to the consumer the full value of money.”

    “It provides that if a manufacturer or its authorized dealer cannot successfully repair a defective product within a reasonable number of repair attempts. The manufacturer must either promptly replace or repurchase the product,” Villar explained.

    He said that with today’s time, owning a motor vehicle is considered to be more of a necessity than luxury to cope with everyday duties and responsibilities.

    “Coping with this necessity does not come cheap.  Owning a motor vehicle is a big investment and could take a substantial chunk of one’s savings.  For some unfortunate buyers, an investment in this endeavor has become for naught after they acquired a “lemon” or those that fail to meet the standards of quality and performance,” the lawmaker said.

    Villar added that with such issue, “buyers continue with the burden of retaining the ‘lemon’ and paying the expensive cost, without equitable redress for their unlucky fate.”

    “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.

    Those covered from the proposal–to be known as the “Lemon Law of 2013” if approved—are 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.

    Villar said that if turned into law, the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer would be obliged to attend to the complaints of the consumer upon receipt of the motor vehicle and the notice of non-conformity, thus would make the necessary repairs and undertaking to make the vehicle conform to the standards or specifications of the manufacturer or distributor of such vehicle.

    It is also stated in the bill that the manufacturer shall provide the consumer with a reasonable daily transportation allowance that covers the transportation of the consumer from his or her residence to his or her regular workplace and vice versa to compensate for the non-usage of the vehicle while under repair and during the period of availment of the Lemon Law rights.

    The compensation, Villar said, would be equivalent to an air-conditioned taxi fare or a service vehicle at the option of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer.

    Consumers who remain unsatisfied with the dealer-manufacturer’s efforts to repair the vehicle may file a complaint before the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

    If turned into law, the DTI would be 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,” he explained.

    Manufacturers ,distributors or dealers who fail to observe the disclosure agreement shall be slapped with a P100,000 fine. RUBEN D. MANAHAN 4TH

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