With the settlement agreement between the rights-defending female car owner and Xi ‘an Lizhixing Automobile Co., Ltd., the Mercedes-Benz oil spill is about to come to an end. However, the problem of automobile consumption rights protection is worthy of in-depth discussion and comprehensive reflection by the public.
On the morning of April 17th, China Consumers Association held a symposium in Beijing to promote the solution to the problem of automobile consumption rights protection, focusing on the problem of automobile consumption rights protection, and invited relevant legal experts and lawyers to participate in it. The discussion focused on the application and perfection of Provisions on Responsibility for Repair, Replacement and Return of Household Automobile Products, the problems and improvement of Guidelines for Pre-sale Inspection Services of Passenger Cars (Trial) (hereinafter referred to as PDI Rules), the collection of fees for financial services in automobile sales, and automobile consumers.
The relevant person in charge of the China Consumers Association pointed out that the current difficulties in safeguarding the rights of automobile consumption are mainly manifested in five major pain points: difficulty in consumer identification, difficulty in obtaining evidence, difficulty in consumer identification, difficulty in consumer consultation and difficulty in solving consumer complaints.
In response to the public’s widespread concern about the financial service fee for automobile sales in the Mercedes-Benz oil spill incident, the relevant person in charge of the China Consumers Association responded that the financial services for automobile sales should be clearly marked, and illegal activities such as compulsory trading should be put an end to.
There were 17,000 complaints about automobile consumption last year.
With the sustained and rapid development of economy and society, the number of cars in China has maintained a rapid growth trend in recent years. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Public Security, the number of cars in China reached 240 million in 2018, an increase of 10.51% compared with 2017. China’s automobile consumption scale has maintained a high level. But there are a lot of complaints in the field of automobile consumption.
Judging from the brands involved in the complaints, BYD ranked first, followed by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Buick, Audi, FAW-Volkswagen, Changan Ford, Dongfeng Nissan, SAIC Volkswagen and Dongfeng Honda. According to the data analysis, the three German luxury car brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are all on the list, which also reflects the upward trend of automobile consumption. This complaint data is absolute, and consumers should consider it comprehensively because of the different sales volume and ownership of each automobile brand.
Statistics show that 62.7% of all automobile-related complaints in 2018 were family cars, followed by auto parts, accounting for 26.2%, accounting for nearly 90% of the total. In 2018, the Complaints and Consultation Information System of the National Consumers Association recorded a total of 19,283 complaints about automobile products (including parts), a decrease of 5.8% compared with the previous year. In 2018, a total of 17,773 automobile-related consumer complaints were accepted, with an acceptance rate of 92.17%; 1.77% of consumer complaints are pending, and 6.06% of complaints are not accepted due to reasons such as exceeding the scope of handling or jurisdiction, withdrawal, inability of the parties to inquire, and insufficient evidence.
The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association analyzed that the reason for the decline was on the one hand affected by the 4.1% decline in passenger car sales in 2018, and on the other hand related to the special rectification carried out by the market supervision department to improve the consumption environment.
Judging from the handling results of complaints, 67.8% of the complaints reached an agreement after mediation, saving consumers 134 million yuan in economic losses. Among the cases that need mediation, the success rate of mediation once is 82.2%, and over 90% of cases can be mediated twice. The mediation methods are mainly face-to-face mediation and telephone mediation.
From the way of consumer complaints, the proportion of complaints made by telephone, Internet, letters, etc. are 52.9%, 22.9% and 15.3% respectively, accounting for over 90% of the total. Compared with the previous year, the proportion of complaints through internet channels increased by 4.9 percentage points, while the proportion of telephone complaints decreased by 2.1 percentage points.
After-sales service problems accounted for 32.2%.
From the classification of consumer complaints, automobile-related complaints mainly focus on after-sales service, contract and quality problems, accounting for 32.2%, 20.7% and 20.0% respectively, and the total of the three types of problems accounts for over 70%.
With the growth of car ownership, the proportion of after-sales service problems has increased, contract problems have decreased slightly, and false propaganda and price disputes have also increased.
The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association said that, specifically, complaints related to automobile after-sales problems mainly include: non-performance of three-guarantee obligations, non-performance of after-sales commitments, charging for repairs during the three-guarantee period after sales, and failure to perform after-sales services due to changes in operators, which account for 50.1%, 38.3%, 5.0% and 2.9% of after-sales problems respectively.
Complaints about automobile contract problems mainly include: deposit disputes, contract breach, unequal format clauses, etc., which account for 32.6%, 22.0% and 4.9% of contract problems respectively.
Complaints about automobile quality problems mainly include: product performance problems, unqualified goods and lack of specific use environment, accounting for 27.3%, 13.4% and 9.2% of all quality problems respectively.
From 2016 to 2018, the data of the complaints and consultation information system of the National Consumers Association showed that the complaints of automobile products (including parts) increased from 15,000 pieces/year to about 19,000 pieces/year, and the complaint resolution rate declined. The main problems of consumer complaints are after-sales service, contract disputes, product quality, financial services and so on.
Statistics show that automobile sales enterprises and service enterprises are the main targets of complaints. From the infringement data of operators, consumers’ rights of safety, fair trade and claim in automobile consumption are the high-incidence areas of infringement by operators, and consumers are most concerned about safety rights. Among them, the right to safety accounts for 46.5%, the right to fair trade accounts for 26.7%, and the right to claim compensation accounts for 18.9%.
It is an obligation to deliver qualified cars.
According to the relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association, it is difficult to protect the rights of automobile consumption in five aspects: operators make excuses and consumers are difficult to identify; Operators do not provide vouchers, and it is difficult for consumers to obtain evidence; Disputes over product quality make it difficult for consumers to identify; Operators buck passing, and it is difficult for consumers to negotiate; Rights protection involves complex issues and it is difficult to solve consumer complaints.
In response to the Mercedes-Benz oil spill in Xi ‘an, the relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association pointed out that it is the operator’s due obligation to deliver the automobile products up to standard.
Article 12 of the Product Quality Law stipulates that the quality of products shall pass the inspection, and unqualified products shall not be passed off as qualified products. Article 8 of the Provisions on Responsibility for Repair, Replacement and Return of Household Automobile Products stipulates that producers shall strictly implement the ex-factory inspection system, and household automobile products that have not passed the inspection shall not be sold out of the factory.
"It is the contractual obligation of the operator to deliver qualified products, and the three guarantees are post-contractual obligations. The two should not be confused." The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association stressed that if the operator sells unqualified products, consumers can, in accordance with Article 54 of the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests, "if the consumer requests to return the goods that have been identified as unqualified by the relevant administrative departments according to law, the operator shall be responsible for the return." If the operator commits fraud, he should also bear the corresponding liability for compensation.
In practice, some operators deliver unqualified vehicles to consumers, but refuse to bear the responsibility of returning goods or corresponding compensation on the grounds of the three guarantees of automobiles, which violates the law.
PDI rules should not restrict consumers’ rights.
In view of the PDI new car inspection fee charged by 4S stores, the relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association believes that PDI rules belong to industry self-discipline norms and should not restrict consumers’ rights.
The Guidelines for Pre-sale Inspection Service of New Passenger Cars (Trial) is an industry self-discipline norm led by industry organizations and formulated by 12 enterprises. It involves the inspection regulations for new passenger cars before they are delivered to consumers.
The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association said that the relevant manufacturers and their dealers should check and implement them one by one according to the relevant contents to ensure the actual quality of new car delivery. For some operators whose PDI inspection is a mere formality, which causes various problems in the delivery of vehicles, industry self-discipline should be strengthened to regulate them. At the same time, the PDI rules jointly formulated by enterprises belong to industry self-discipline norms, and should not restrict consumers’ substantive rights, but should be revised and improved according to consumers’ demands and related practical disputes.
Financial service fees put an end to compulsory transactions
In view of the current situation that 4S stores generally charge auto financial service fees, the relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association believes that auto sales financial services should be clearly marked to prevent illegal activities such as compulsory transactions.
According to the relevant provisions of the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests and the Measures for the Administration of Automobile Sales, dealers shall not force consumers to buy insurance or provide services such as vehicle registration on their behalf when selling cars. In violation of the relevant provisions, the local competent commerce department at or above the county level shall order it to make corrections, and may give a warning or a fine of not more than 30,000 yuan.
"In the course of trading, the operator shall express all the charging items to consumers in advance, and shall not make unreasonable restrictions or compulsory transactions. However, in the current automobile sales service, there are problems such as forcing consumers to buy insurance, paying renewal deposit or renewal deposit. Some dealers overcharge the license fee and financial service fee without telling consumers, and do not issue invoices, which causes strong dissatisfaction among consumers. " The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association said that these illegal acts should be severely punished according to law.
Operators should solve consumer disputes quickly.
Article 4 of the Consumer Protection Law stipulates that business operators and consumers should follow the principles of voluntariness, equality, fairness, honesty and credibility when conducting transactions. Article 23 stipulates that if a consumer finds a defect in a motor vehicle within six months from the date of receiving the commodity, and a dispute arises, the operator shall bear the burden of proof on the defect.
Article 8 of the Measures for Punishment of Infringement on Consumers’ Rights and Interests stipulates that business operators shall not deliberately delay or unreasonably refuse consumers’ legitimate demands when providing commodities or services.
The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association pointed out that operators should respect consumers’ rights and interests and solve consumer disputes honestly and quickly.
"As the first responsible person to safeguard consumers’ rights and interests, operators should attach great importance to consumers’ opinions, face up to consumers’ reasonable demands, earnestly fulfill their legal obligations and responsibilities, and properly resolve consumer disputes. If the product is found to be defective within six months of delivery, the operator also bears the burden of proof. " The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association stressed that delaying prevarication and bullying will not only be severely punished by law, but also lose the trust of consumers.
It is necessary to increase the scope of supervision and spot checks.
In recent years, the national automobile complaints and the recent Mercedes-Benz female car owners’ rights protection incidents have highlighted the current situation that it is difficult to protect rights in the field of automobile consumption, the urgency of credit construction and the necessity of building a harmonious consumption environment.
In view of the difficulty in safeguarding the rights of automobile consumption, China Consumers Association calls on the whole society to jointly establish the concept of consumer priority and work together to solve the problem.
On the one hand, it calls on the legislature to listen to consumers’ opinions extensively, further revise and improve the product quality law, three guarantees for automobiles and other regulations, improve the legislative level of product quality assurance, clarify that people should be held accountable for violations of laws, strengthen the protection of consumers, and prevent operators from evading their due obligations and responsibilities and harming consumers’ legitimate rights and interests.
On the other hand, it appeals to all relevant administrative departments to pay attention to the problems reflected by consumers, further strengthen supervision and management in the field of automobile consumption, promptly investigate and deal with outstanding behaviors that harm consumers’ rights and interests, standardize automobile sales and ancillary services, increase the scope and intensity of supervision and spot checks, continuously improve the efficiency of administrative law enforcement, and enhance consumer satisfaction.
The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association said that it is hoped that the automobile industry organizations will strengthen industry self-discipline and internal constraints, attach importance to and listen to consumers’ opinions, revise and improve relevant rules of the automobile industry in time, strengthen service supervision, data monitoring and risk management, eliminate improper restrictions on consumers’ rights, promote the establishment of industry credit restraint mechanism, blacklist operators who seriously infringe on consumers’ rights and realize effective industry governance.
"China Consumers Association will thoroughly study the outstanding problems in the field of automobile consumption and the difficulties in consumer rights protection, actively participate in the legislative work in related fields, timely reflect consumer demands, and promote the improvement of the legal protection of automobile consumption rights protection. At the same time, explore the establishment of a professional Committee on automobile consumption, with the help of experts and lawyers, to improve the efficiency of automobile complaint handling; Explore the establishment of a credit publicity mechanism in the field of automobile consumption, publicly disclose intentional delays, unreasonable rejections and other untrustworthy behaviors that seriously infringe on consumers’ rights and interests, strengthen corporate credit constraints, and promote quality improvement and service improvement. " The relevant person in charge of China Consumers Association stressed that for major and typical violations of the legitimate rights and interests of automobile consumers, investigation, interview, reflection, suggestion, disclosure, criticism, litigation and credit publicity will be comprehensively used to effectively strengthen the protection of consumers and effectively curb the illegal behavior of operators.
Beijing, April 17 th