On follow up from last week repair issues, I covered authorizing repairs, making sure you have the correct documentation/invoice, warranties and 2nd hand parts. This last week I will talk about sublet repairs, disputes and your options, record keeping and Safety certificate disputes.
1. Sublet repairs.
A sublet repair is when something is sent to another specialist repairer. For example, we would send your radiator to a specialist to be repaired – this is a sublet repair. Or your vehicle suffers an overheat and it needs cylinder head repairs – we would remove the cylinder head and send it to our engine specialist to carry out the repairs on our behalf – this is also a sublet repair.
From a legal perspective, if there was a dispute about the quality of the repairs carried out by the sublet repairer, you only need to deal with the primary mechanic, not the sublet repairer. If you had an issue with a sublet repair that was carried out, we would ask you to come and see us immediately to sort the issue out.
The primary mechanic has the responsibility to sort out any issues with the sublet repair. You should never be expected to negotiate a resolution with a sublet repairer unless you organized that part of the repair.
Now, this can be a long and drawn-out process, but it doesn’t need to be! Disputes do arise, but most repairers are willing to work with a customer towards a resolution. So it is always best to try and resolve the issue yourself by talking politely to the repairer and be clear about what the problem is and what you believe needs to be done about it. If genuine, most repairers will appreciate the opportunity to make things right. Even if it is a simple misunderstanding, it is their opportunity to set the record straight and keep you a customer.
If your vehicle develops an issue that you suspect is related to a previous repair, always return to the original repairer. If this isn’t possible, you should at least contact them before authorizing any further work. If you do take it to another repairer, it is best that you ask them to contact the original repairer as they may be able to shed some light on the history of the vehicle/fault and negotiate to have it resolved.
Where there is no other option but to have another repairer involved, I highly recommend that you get the following (especially if a third party needs to investigate to help resolve the issue):
- Keep all old parts
- Clear and detailed invoice as to what the problem what and how it was rectified
- Clear and detailed photos may also help
When a dispute can’t be resolved amicably between all parties, you have a few options:
- If the repairer is a member of an auto group (RACQ, NRMA, MTAQ, etc) they can assist you with investigating the matter and negotiating a resolution with the repairer. These auto groups will provide an independent opinion on the issue/s on your behalf.
- If the repairer is not a member of an auto group, they can still offer advice and assistance, but their ability to negotiate on your behalf may be limited.
Other more official options, if the repairer is not willing to negotiate are:
- Queensland Office of Fair Trading
- The last resort would be the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). They have just as many powers as a court but offers a low-cost legal alternative for resolving common consumer disputes.
Keep all your invoices for work carried out on your vehicle. It is not only your service record but it could be vital in the event of a dispute.
In the event of a dispute, keep a record of all phone call conversations, emails, etc. (Date, times, who you spoke to, etc). This information may be required by either a third party or by a court.
4. Safety Certificate (roadworthy) disputes.
If you believe you have been provided with a suspect safety certificate you must act swiftly. First, contact the safety certificate provider who carried out the roadworthy first and discuss it with them. If they are not willing to help and can not resolve the issue/s, then you should contact your local Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) Transport Inspector or the nearest Transport Inspection Centre for further advice. You can call for more information – 13 23 80.
Important things to consider:
- The longer you drive the car the less likely DTMR will be able to help
- Do not have repairs carried out before DTMR views the car. The transport inspector must see the faults before they are repaired if they are to take action
- A complaint to DTMR will not get your car repaired. If DTMR can prove the safety certificate provided has made a mistake, they may be fined or prosecuted, however, it will be your responsibility as the owner of the vehicle to have the repairs carried out. Ultimately you may need to take your own legal action to recover any losses.
I hope that this information has helped and you have enjoyed this 3 part series on various repair issues.
At Ipswich City Mechanical, I want to make sure that you are being looked after in the right ways and that you are prepared for any situation that may arise and how to deal with it! Don’t feel cheated by a mechanic just because you might not know much about your vehicle – use my tips to help you! And if you are still not happy with your mechanic, then give us a call!
You can find the other parts in the series by clicking on the links below:
Have a terrific Tuesday!