To help make service and repairs easier for car owners in Qatar, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) has established nine new warranty clauses that must be followed by local dealerships.
The clauses apply during the sale of new and near-new cars, and outline an owner’s rights in getting a vehicle serviced or repaired at any garage without voiding the terms of their warranty.
A total of 22 dealers, representing 48 brands, have given written confirmation that they will comply with the rules, in accordance with law No. 19 of 2006, the Protection of Competition and Prevention of Monopolistic Practices, MEC said in a statement in Arabic.
- Teyseer Motors – Suzuki;
- Taleb Trading – Daihatsu;
- Q-Auto – Volkswagen and Audi;
- Domasco – Volvo, Honda and GAC Motor;
- Ibn Ajayan – Skoda and Seat;
- Almana Motors – Ford, Peugeot and Lincoln;
- Al Jaida Automotive – Chevrolet;
- Mannai Corporation – GMC, Cadillac and Subaru;
- Abdullah Abdulghani & Bros – Toyota and Lexus;
- Alfardan automobiles – Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, BMW, Mini, Maserati and Ferrari;
- Alhamad Almana – Renault, Infiniti and Nissan;
- United Cars Almana – Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge;
- Qatar Motors – Mitsubishi and Fuso;
- Al Boraq Automobiles – Porsche;
- Nasser bin Khaled Automobiles – Mercedes Benz;
- National Car Company – Mazda and Hyundai;
- Al-Attiya Motors – KIA;
- Al Naael Company – Citroen, Ssangyong;
- Jaidah Heavy Equipment – Isuzu;
- Al Hamad Automobiles Co – Chery, JAC Motors and TATA;
- Al Wajba Motors – McLaren and Bentley; and
- New Trade Engineering – Fiat and Alfa Romeo.
The new terms have been introduced to encourage car dealers to improve their performance and to become more competitive, while also raising standards of maintenance and repairs, the MEC said.
Car dealers were ordered to relax their warranty rules last summer. Previously, buyers could only undertake repairs and servicing at the main dealer or risk voiding their warranty.
Saying this amounted to a monopoly, the MEC said at the time that dealers must “give vehicle owners the freedom to choose which shops do maintenance work and repair their cars.”
Dealers that don’t comply could incur a fine of up to QR5 million and confiscation of their profits, the MEC’s Committee for Competition Protection and Prevention of Monopolistic Practices warned in a statement issued in September.
The move followed customer complaints about high prices for servicing and repairs conducted at the main dealerships.
According to the new warranty terms, dealers must not include any restrictive clauses or vague terms that could limit customers’ choice of which garage to go to for repairs and servicing for a car within its warranty period.
Customers should be free to chose any garage, provided that they keep a receipt that shows repairs or servicing was carried out on time and according to the terms detailed by the car manufacturer.
Additionally, car owners can choose to use oil, filters or other spare parts that are of the same specification as the original parts, as long as they are accredited for use by the vehicle’s manufacturer.
Spare parts that don’t meet the manufacturer’s technical specifications can void that part of the warranty, but not the coverage for other parts of the car.
And, in line with current practice in the US, dealers must prove that damage occurred in a car as a result of maintenance work that didn’t comply with technical requirements before taking any action on the warranty.
Dealers also cannot incorporate the cost of repairs or servicing into the sale price of a car, unless as part of a promotion that has been pre-approved by authorities, and any changes to dealers’ warranty booklets must be submitted to the Competition Protection Department for acceptance.
The MEC warns customers who chose third-party garages to undertake services or repairs that they should keep all receipts, which should detail the job done and the date it was undertaken.
Car buyers are also encouraged to carefully read dealers’ warranty books to ensure they comply with the new terms.
Complaints can be lodged by calling the MEC’s hotline (16001), by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter, @MEC_Qatar.
The new rules aim to help improve customer confidence in Qatar’s automotive industry.
Late last year, the MEC found that Qatar residents were largely dissatisfied with the country’s car dealers.
A poll of 4,000 residents conducted by the ministry found that people felt they are paying more for new cars and spare parts than those living in other countries in the Gulf. They also expressed little confidence in car dealers and service centers.
However, dealers have said that, contrary to perceptions, spare parts cost largely the same across all GCC states.
Subhash Joshi – the head of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan’s automotive department in the Middle East, said in an interview with bq magazine earlier this year:
“With open boundaries across the GCC, it is difficult to drive price differentiation at an overall level … The prices in Oman are slightly higher than UAE and KSA, but there is only a minimal difference and it is limited to a few auto part categories only.”