Car warranty rules to take effect in OctoberUpdated: 2013-09-23 06:54
Customer satisfaction has always been a top priority of the company, said Nicholas Speeks, president and CEO of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co Ltd.
"The company's new 3R policy goes above and beyond the legislation's requirements in terms of warranty coverage, roadside assistance service and its courtesy car policy," he said. "Certainly, the 3R promise will increase costs in our after-sales sector."
"However, customer satisfaction and a better brand experience are much more important for us."
Other carmakers that implemented similar policies ahead of the regulations' effective date also include Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Shanghai GM, Dongfeng Peugeot, FAW Volkswagen, BYD, Chery, Great Wall and BAIC Group.
Though companies and dealers are embracing the new rule, analysts pointed out that there are still some challenges with regard to implementation, and authorities must continue to revise regulations while working to enforce them.
"Identifying who is responsible could be a complicated task," said Mei Songlin, vice-president and managing director of JD Power China, Shanghai.
"Sometimes a third-party agency will be required to verify the problem."
Mei also noted that dealers should take the initiative to inform customers about the details of the 3R regulation.
"Active communication could avoid unnecessary complaints and disputes resulting from consumer misunderstandings," he said.
Gai Fang, deputy secretary-general of the China Automotive Maintenance and Repair Trade Association, expressed concern that some carmakers may require customers to receive maintenance and repairs in designated dealerships using only approved parts in order to be covered by the warranty.
In the United States, car owners can get repairs and maintenance at any repair shop that has a government license, and the dealerships must still cover the costs under the warranty, he said.
"It would be better if this can be added to the 3R regulations in the future," he said.
"The regulation needs continual step-by-step improvement."
Though 3R is new to consumers and companies in China, developed countries already have rich experience in dealing with similar laws.
As a country that has a long history of producing and consuming cars, the US in the 1970s enacted the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, known colloquially as the "lemon law".
It entitles car owners to remedies for defective vehicles, which are commonly referred to as "lemons".
There are also many lemon laws on the state level.
"In the early months and even years of the lemon law, it took people a while to get to understand it and to actually believe it," said Charles Mills, vice- president of global retail experience at JD Power and Associates.
"Now all of the parties are much more experienced in what it means and how it actually follows the process."
Mills noted that he expects a similar development in China."It is part of Chinese market evolution and maturity," he said.
"After-sales service is now a very important profit center for a dealer and a brand.
"The level of quality that is required to avoid lemon law cases will also help those dealerships to make sure their after-sales service system is functioning well and efficiently, and is capable of driving the type of profit they need."
Li Fangfang contributed to the story