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Dealing with disputes – we are here to help

Being in the service industry, customer disputes and the resolution of these is a large part of what businesses in the motor sector face almost daily. And it’s not easy. But RMI members can rest assured that the RMI is here to help.
We have a dispute resolution rate of over 90%. This means that when customers or members approach the RMI for assistance because they can’t find common ground, we assist in finding a solution, almost 100% of the time. Considering the RMI receives over 20,000 complaints and inquiries through its various regional offices annually we believe this percentage of resolutions is commendable.
What’s key to remember is that there is a complaints process that members and consumers need to follow. We addressed this issue in last month’s edition of Automobil but I’d like to highlight some important points.
There are different bodies with specific mandates within the industry. The Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa (MIOSA) is tasked with the resolution of consumer complaints through a process of adjudication. This can be a time-consuming exercise and the consumer is never quite guaranteed of a specific outcome.
Rulings made by the MIOSA are not legally enforceable in their own right. Only the consumer tribunal can convert MIOSA rulings into awards that are executable in law – a process that can also be extremely time consuming.
With this in mind, the RMI developed an alternative for members and consumers before the MIOSA is approached, or the legal route taken. The process is based on facilitation between consumers and accredited- RMI members and is designed to produce speedy and equitable outcomes.
Members are always encouraged to try and resolve the matter directly with their customers first. If this doesn’t work then members can direct disgruntled consumers to the RMI. We have tried to make the process as easy as possible so complainants can download a complaint referral form from our website and submit it to the nearest regional office.
Please bear in mind that the facilitation process is non-legal. No legal representation is allowed unless otherwise advised and is done without prejudice. The process is quick and effective. In most cases, disputes are resolved but if no suitable outcome can be reached, the complainant can then escalate the case to the MIOSA.
The mediation process is a free service offered by the RMI. And is one of the many benefits that RMI-accredited members enjoy. Only if a technical inspection and report is required is there a charge and these costs will be for the complainant’s account.
The RMI is a reputable brand and we strive to ensure this remains the case. We believe that a fair and just dispute resolution service reinforces this. By following the process set up by the organisation it is highly likely that the case will be resolved so we encourage all members to do so and advise their customers accordingly. Let’s work together to make sure the system works for all.