There are contract traps, unqualified maintenance organizations, “hidden rules” of parts fraud, and opaque prices in car repair and maintenance.

How consumers avoid the trap of auto repair (letter review)

  Our reporter Shen Tongrui You Yi Hong Qiuting

  "People's Daily" (version 07 on January 25, 2021)

  Some time ago, a small car that Xiao Wu had bought for more than 3 years suddenly broke down, and he felt frustrated when shifting and accelerating.

The staff of the 4S shop who often went for maintenance told him that this was caused by carbon deposits in the throttle, so Xiao Wu chose the repair item of throttle cleaning.

But within two weeks of getting better, the old problem came up again.

This time, the staff of the 4S shop told him that it was still the problem of carbon deposits on the throttle.

Xiao Wu found it unacceptable: "In such a short period of time, it is impossible to form carbon deposits that affect driving. It must be the store's last maintenance that did not achieve the effect, and there was deceptive behavior."

  In recent years, cars have gradually entered thousands of households. According to statistics from the traffic control department of the Ministry of Public Security, as of 2020, the number of cars in the country has reached 280 million.

However, what followed was a rapid rise in disputes related to vehicle maintenance.

According to the "Analysis of Complaints Accepted by the National Consumers Association in 2019" issued by the China Consumers Association, the number of complaints related to automobiles and parts reached 34,000, a year-on-year increase of 25.1%, ranking first in the commodity category.

In the first half of 2020, the number of complaints reached 18,000, a year-on-year increase of 14.4%.

  What are the traps in car maintenance?

How should consumers avoid being deceived?

How do you protect your legal rights when you are deceived?

In response to these issues, the reporter launched an investigation.

 Parts fraud, excessive maintenance

  Auto repair shop is full of tricks

  In October 2020, the People's Court of Shunyi District of Beijing held a press briefing on "The traps in the auto repair industry are active in safeguarding rights without shrinking" to inform about the common legal issues in the auto repair process and the dilemma of consumer rights safeguarding.

Niu Jiawen, President of the Second Civil Division of the Shunyi Court, said that in the trial work, it was found that automobile maintenance disputes were mainly concentrated in contract traps, unqualified maintenance organizations, "hidden rules" of parts fraud, and opaque prices.

  Cheng Cheng, a reader in Anyang, Henan, has encountered accessory fraud.

In the winter of 2019, his car battery broke, so he found an auto repair shop and spent 480 yuan to replace it with a new battery.

Unexpectedly, half a month later, the battery broke again.

"I went to another store for overhaul, and the master took off the battery and told me that the battery was not new, but used. I had to spend another 300 yuan to replace it with a new battery." Cheng Cheng said.

  Reader Lan Yun from Chenzhou, Hunan also encountered similar problems.

Once, he accidentally drove into a roadside guardrail, causing damage to the front lights, so he temporarily found a roadside auto repair shop and replaced it with a new one.

"In less than a month, the car lights broke down without bumps and normal driving conditions. It is very likely that the lights replaced by the auto repair shop are defective." Lan Yun said that the auto repair shop acted as shoddy. , Not only causes consumers to suffer economic losses, but also causes serious safety hazards to vehicles. "Relevant departments should pay attention to the chaos of auto repair and make great efforts to rectify them."

  The reporter interviewed a practitioner in the auto repair industry. According to him, most car owners will leave the car in the shop during repairs and come to pick up the car a few days later. Some auto repair shops use this time and the removal is in better condition. If the car parts are replaced with auxiliary parts or old parts, as long as there is no obvious fault in the car, it is difficult for the car owner to find the "feelings".

"Even if the car owner is watching on the spot, he is not afraid. There are so many lines and parts in the car, pointing to the good parts and saying that it is bad, most people can't see it." The practitioner said.

  There are also auto repair shops that encourage employees to sell more parts to get a commission, and some employees increase their income by "hands and feet" on vehicles, increasing the frequency of repairs, or expanding the scope of repairs.

Some faults are very simple, and changing the fuse can solve the problem, but this will not make money.

As a result, some auto repair shops treat minor illnesses as serious illness doctors. Parts that originally only require partial repair are replaced as a whole, and those that only need to replace small parts are said to require major repairs. As a result, car owners often have to pay several times more. Even dozens of times the maintenance cost.

  "Although auto repair shops will provide consumers with repair orders, listing repair items, required materials, costs, etc., this is not enough to allow car owners to understand the true cause of the vehicle failure and the specific repair process." said Zou Xuedong, a reader from Jingdezhen, Jiangxi.

Some readers stated in the letter that because consumers lack a clear and accurate understanding of auto parts, they can only passively accept professional opinions and suggestions in the process of auto repair. Once the other party deliberately misleads consumers to make wrong judgments, it is very This may lead to the continuous increase of vehicle maintenance items and amounts, and even some unqualified auto repair shops still use fake and shoddy products, artificially create faults, and repair minor defects into major problems.

Contract traps, lack of evidence

  It's even more difficult for consumers to defend their rights

  A company sent the vehicle to an auto repair shop for repair and paid more than 300,000 yuan in advance for repairs.

Unexpectedly, this auto repair shop does not have the qualification for maintenance and operation, and the technical level is not high. The vehicle has not been repaired in more than half a year.

So the company asked the auto repair shop to return the prepaid repair fee and compensate for the loss, but the auto repair shop instead of refunding the money, but asked the company to pay for parts, hire senior technicians, and venue rental fees totaling 150,000 yuan.

In the end, the court ruled that the auto repair shop engaged in motor vehicle maintenance operations without permission should stop the operation and bear the losses caused thereby.

  Such cases are not uncommon in real life.

With the rapid increase in car ownership, the strong demand for maintenance has given birth to auto repair shops springing up like bamboo shoots after a rain.

As large as an auto repair factory covering an area of ​​hundreds of acres, as small as an auto repair shop with three or two people, these auto repair institutions are uneven. While providing convenience for the majority of car owners, it also increases the probability of consumer rights damage.

  Compared with the small auto repair shops on the street, the 4S shops with better environment and more standardized systems are trusted by many car owners. Although the prices are generally much higher, many car owners would rather "pay for peace of mind." ".

But this may be just wishful thinking.

According to Ding Tao, Secretary-General of the Consumer Rights Protection Committee of Anhui Province, there are not many complaints about 4S shops, which are mainly reflected in the poor quality of after-sales maintenance and repair services, only replacement but not repairs, minor defects and major repairs, and high service prices.

"Although the three guarantees for automobiles have been promulgated for many years, many 4S shops have set up numerous obstacles in implementation, and the implementation is not satisfactory." Ding Tao said.

  In addition, contract traps are also an easy link for car owners to "success". Some auto repair shops deliberately set traps in verbal agreements and format clauses, causing consumers to suffer losses due to not signing a contract with clear content, standardization and reasonableness, and subsequent rights protection Brings no small difficulties.

  When Cheng Cheng recalled the experience of battery replacement, he believed that the lack of effective evidence such as contracts and invoices was one of the important reasons for the difficulty in defending rights afterwards. “At that time, I went to repair the car and thought it was just a small matter of changing the battery. Invoices and maintaining maintenance certificates, etc., when problems are discovered and they want to be compensated, there is almost no strong evidence on hand."

Many car owners, like Cheng Cheng, went to the auto repair shop just to solve some minor problems. The process is not complicated and the estimated cost is not high. They neglected the signing of the contract and did not specify the specific maintenance items and related responsibilities. .

It was only discovered when the fraud was discovered that the lack of evidence made it even more difficult to defend their rights.

  The relevant person in charge of the Guangdong Consumer Council said that automobiles are large consumer goods with complex structures and strong professionalism. When ordinary consumers encounter automobile problems, they can only rely on professionals. Therefore, they need to pay attention to the preservation of evidence in all aspects. Sign a maintenance agreement before the start of the maintenance. When negotiating, it is best to negotiate the price in advance, clarify the specific items, amount and other detailed information. The state of the vehicle before and after the maintenance can be recorded by taking photos or videos. At the same time, pay attention to the receipt of retention.

  Professional support, industry self-discipline

  The auto repair industry should be honest

  Analyzing some cases of consumer fraud in the auto repair field is not difficult to find. Compared with professional practitioners, consumers are often in a disadvantaged position in terms of technology and legal knowledge. This "information asymmetry" also brings consumers' rights protection. It must be difficult.

In response to this situation, the judge of the Shunyi Court stated that when consumers encounter problems, they should dare to take up legal weapons to protect their legitimate rights and interests. Once a dispute occurs, first negotiate with the repairing party to resolve it. If the negotiation fails, they can go to the road transportation management. Institutions apply for the organization of technical appraisal and mediation, in addition to complaints to consumer associations or market supervision departments, or to the court to file a lawsuit.

  In order to provide technical support to consumers who have encountered disputes, the consumer committees in Guangdong, Hubei and other places have established automobile expert committees. When encountering automobile consumption disputes, they will give full play to the expertise of experts to help both parties clarify their responsibilities and better solve automobile maintenance. dispute.

  However, it is important for car owners to increase their awareness of precautions and increase their basic knowledge of auto parts when servicing cars, but it is indeed difficult to require every consumer to become an auto repair expert. Therefore, it is more important to create a healthy and orderly industry environment.

Gu Zehong, a reader from Yueqing, Zhejiang, proposed that a credit evaluation mechanism for auto repair operators should be established and improved, to help trustworthy operators build good reputation, and form a warning for bad auto repair shops.

  In the "Regulations on the Administration of Motor Vehicle Maintenance" issued by the Ministry of Transport, it is clearly stipulated that the road transportation management agency shall collect the credit information of motor vehicle maintenance enterprises and establish the credit files of the motor vehicle maintenance enterprises, which are open for public inspection in accordance with the law; establish motor vehicle maintenance operators In addition to the blacklist system for practitioners, the county-level road transport management agency is responsible for identifying the blacklist of motor vehicle maintenance operators and practitioners.

“Now through some review websites, the public can easily check the evaluation of a certain restaurant and scenic spot to assist in consumer decision-making. I hope that relevant departments will also establish a similar evaluation system for the auto repair industry to make these credit information inquiries more convenient.” Gu Zehong said.

  Reader Ma Diming from Tongliao, Inner Mongolia, believes that the auto repair industry should be like the catering industry. It should make the repair process transparent and display it to consumers in real time. “Transparency of repair information and repair process not only provides for dispute resolution. It is also conducive to creating pressure and reducing the occurrence of "slaughtering customers"." Liu Yuyan, a reader in Zunyi, Guizhou, said: "The auto repair industry is also a service industry, and operators should realize that the behavior of "slaughtering customers" will eventually be punished. If you want to continue to make profits, the most fundamental way is to operate with integrity and improve service levels so that every employee in the industry can firmly establish a sense of integrity."

  At present, various transportation departments have promoted the construction and application of the electronic health record system for motor vehicle maintenance, and established national motor vehicle maintenance data files through digital means.

As of September 2020, 31 provinces have been covered, a total of 460 million maintenance records have been collected, and a "health record" has been established for more than 106 million vehicles.

These maintenance record data provide a traceability basis for dispute settlement in the auto maintenance industry.