Alberta man denied warranty coverage for vehicle protests in front of dealership
Published Tuesday, March 5, 2013 4:37PM MST Last Updated Tuesday, March 5, 2013 6:43PM MST
A Grande Prairie man who was denied warranty coverage on his vehicle after it broke down in Edmonton took an unconventional approach to resolve the matter – and it worked.
Spencer Stephenson was driving his 2012 Dodge Ram truck in Edmonton when it needed major repairs.
Stephenson says Chrysler denied him warranty coverage over a maintenance issue.
According to his invoice, the official reason from Chrysler is that “the customer cannot provide preventative maintenance records.”
Stephenson said his records were at home when the failure occurred in Edmonton.
He was so angry over being turned down warranty coverage that he took to protesting in front of the dealer closest to where his truck stopped working – complete with a sign that read ‘Chrysler does not warranty their defective parts.’
“It’s a simple fact of them saying it’s not simply a factory defective part, so we’re not going to warranty it, they cop out very easily,” Stephenson said. “It’s a maintained vehicle.”
Stephenson waited in a hotel room while his truck was repaired elsewhere – with no help from Chrysler, he says.
While Chrysler Canada won’t comment on Stephenson’s case specifically, they did send CTV News a statement speaking in general terms.
Failure to maintain vehicle means repairs may not be covered
“Operating conditions such as, short-trip driving, trailer-towing, off-road driving, extreme hot or cold weather, or driving in dusty conditions, will influence your vehicle’s maintenance requirements,” the statement read.
“Your new vehicle limited warranty requires that you perform the scheduled maintenance at the time or metrage shown in your owner’s manual. If you do not do so, and your vehicle fails as a result of your failure to maintain it properly, repairs may not be covered under your warranty.”
Stephenson says he was disappointed that despite keeping his vehicle maintained, he was still turned down – and that left him feeling like he had little options left.
“They say it’s your responsibility but when they give you a warranty schedule and you abide by it and they fall back on their word, then, you know, what’s a guy to do?” Stephenson said.
But there are some options that don’t include protesting in front of a dealership.
Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan
Drivers can consider contacting the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan, or CAMVAP, for help.
CAMVAP is an arbitration program that acts similar to court for vehicle issues in Canada.
“If you think of CAMVAP as a court, the consumer comes to CAMVAP for arbitration. They go in front of a neutral arbitrator, they hear the consumer’s story, they hear the manufacturer’s story, they go out and look at the vehicle, take it for a test drive if need be, and the arbitrator may order a technical inspection of the vehicle,” said Steve Moody with CAMVAP.
“At the end of the day, the arbitrator is going to tell the manufacturer and the consumer who they think is responsible and what should be done.”
Moody says if drivers get their preventative maintenance done a few kilometres over what’s stated in the manual, it could be enough for a manufacturer to deny coverage.
To be safe, he suggests making sure it is done right at the interval or in advance.
If CAMVAP sides with the consumer, the manufacturer could be forced to buy the vehicle back, repair it, or reimburse for repairs the consumer has already paid.
In Stephenson’s case, his unconventional method worked.
He says the dealership ended up giving him a cheque for $4,150 to cover repairs, provided he signed a letter that required him to remove his sign and return home.
“I was affecting their business,” Stephenson said.
“They pretty much just said, ‘what do you need to get out of here? What do you need to get away from our business?’”
Stephenson says he protested on public property for seven hours and it took just the one day for the company to respond.
He says while his method worked, the experience also taught him to pay closer attention to paperwork involved in vehicle warranties, something he recommends other drivers do as well.
“Inform yourself. Make sure you have everything in order,” he said.
“Make sure you do your read-up from front to back of your warranty schedule, inquire, ask questions.”
Moody says 600 Albertans contacted them last year, but many cases were solved without the use of arbitration.
There were 17 vehicles that manufacturers were forced to buy back – which is the highest number of buy backs across Canada.
With files from Laura Lowe