Can we fully trust automakers and their cars these days? Do we need a Lemon law in Malaysia?
To be honest, if you look at it from a fair game point of view, every country should have a Lemon law.
Does Malaysia need a Lemon law?
Why? Because motorists painfully pry themselves away from their hard-earned money to purchase a vehicle, and when that new vehicle doesn’t operate as advertised, it affects their daily lives, including how they source their income.
In Malaysia, cars rank pretty highly on the list of significant financial commitments, primarily due to the nation’s tendency to rely on borrowed money to purchase a car. So shouldn’t they at least get good protection against ‘lemon’ cars?
As much as we would like for all cars to come out of the factory in perfect condition, unfortunately, sometimes, things go wrong, which means that some cars will have problems.
We wouldn’t need a Lemon law if….
If all companies, distributors or dealers quickly and honestly reimburse, repair or admit that there is a significant problem with their car, then we wouldn’t need a Lemon waw in the first place. Still, sometimes, a law that protects a consumer’s right has to step in to save the day.
For example when Poratha Corporation bought a Volkswagen Polo Sedan from FA Wagen Sdn Bhd in 2013, they were not able to use the car for three years a month after picking it up. Can you imagine that? You own the car for one month and for the next three years the car is ‘sidai‘.
Understandably unsatisfied, they took it up with the courts, where luckily, sessions court judge Mabel Sheela Muttiah allowed the plaintiff to claim RM1,779 as special damages and RM88,300 for the loss of use of the car, as she concluded that there were “real and fundamental” defects to the car and the defendant had failed to rectify them within a reasonable time.
We depend on cars in Malaysia…
With an average of half a million cars sold in Malaysia every year, it can be said that a lot of Malaysians depend on cars.
While automakers usually provide buyers with warranties, which is a sort of a promise or a guarantee that the cars are of good build, some cars just cannot be fixed even after numerous visits to the service centre.
Not everyone is as lucky as Poratha Corporation because, according to Malaysia’s National Consumers Complaints Centre (NCCC), they receive many complaints about new cars manufactured by top companies, both locally and abroad. A Lemon law would bring these numbers down, said Ratna Devi, NCCC director.
This was also echoed by Penang Consumers’ Association (CAP), which said that the Lemon law is a remedy for vehicle buyers who buy defective vehicles without an avenue for redress.
“Lemon law strengthens the Consumer Protection Act. It should be introduced to provide consumers holding onto lemons — nice to see but sour and tart to taste — an avenue of legal redress, said CAP President, SM Mohamed Idris.
So why do Malaysians need to be protected by Lemon law?
Yes, while we do have the Consumer Protection Act 1999, which is a generic form of consumer protection, we need a Lemon law to make things a bit more straightforward for motorists where they can be confident about purchasing their car without worrying whether they bought it from the right distributor/ dealer or the anxiety of it being mechanically sound. A Lemon law will also give Malaysian buyers legal redress should they in the unfortunate chance purchase a lemon.
Isn’t that just fair? Something we deserve as paying consumers? Vehicle buyers, who are tied down to the car for many many years? We think so!