Service plans taking us for a ride
Are they a necessary evil or just a gimmick to get you back into the dealership? I find it really hard to believe that a vehicle manufacturer is doing its utmost to ensure that you, the consumer, are getting the maximum value for your money by forcing you to buy a vehicle with either a maintenance contract or service plan.
Gone are the good old days when a manufacturer sold you a vehicle and gave you a guarantee of an entire year without all the terms and conditions. These days the terms and conditions that apply to a factory guarantee make owning a new car a nightmare. The clause that the vehicle can and must only be serviced by a dealership of the same brand has resulted in the manufacturers scaring clients into buying vehicles with maintenance contracts or service plans.
Service plans only cover routine service replacements such as like the engine oil and filter, spark plugs, air filter and fuel filter.
All other parts are considered wear and tear items and are not replaceable under the service plan. You have to pay for spares such as such as clutch plates and brake pads.
With a maintenance contract most of the service parts are covered,including brake pads and brake discs - but the single most expensive wear and tear component, the clutch kit and flywheel, is not.
My gripe with these two plans is that on most new-vehicle purchases you, the consumer, are not allowed to choose the plan most appropriate for you, or not take a plan at all. You are duped into thinking that your car will maintain its resale value if you sell it with a portion of the maintenance plan still intact.
WHY CAN’T YOU JUST OPT OUT?
If that’s true, why are buyers of certain brands in South Africa not allowed to purchase a vehicle without a service or maintenance plan?
According to the Consumer Protection Act, a sales person must sell you a vehicle to meet your specific needs and not bundle products together.
Why, then, are we not allowed to buy vehicles without these plans? On certain luxury models these plans increase the price of the vehicle by as much as R100 000.
Is this an acceptable practice?
Or have we, the consumers, got so tired of fighting for what is right, that we merely accept these bully-boy tactics.
If you buy a new BMW X5 3.0d, the maintenance plan (motorplan) adds R100 000 to the price. If the car is financed, the service plan actually costs a lot more, when you include the finance charges.
How many services could you pay for in less than three years for that much money? What if you only drive 5000km a year? What happens to all that money spent on a maintenance plan that you may never use?
When asked about these maintenance plans, one manufacturer glibly replied that the client doesn’t have to take the maintenance contract, but the price of the vehicle remains the same. What a crock. We, the motoring public, are being taken for a ride - if you’ll pardon the pun.
Sagie Moodley is a workshop owner and presents a radio motoring show with Adam Ford on Midrand's Mix FM (93.8) from 7-9pm every Wednesday.
If you’re having trouble with a repair or need some used-car advice, he’ll be happy to try and offer a solution.
E-mail your query to the Motoring Editor. - Star Motoring