Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When Car Troubles Become Lemon Troubles

(The following post comes to us from Sergei Lemberg, Esq., who discusses the concept of lemon law)

There are few things more frustrating in life than not having a car you can depend on. After all, you need your vehicle to get to work, to take the kids to school and to their other activities, to run errands, and to go out and have a good time. It’s inevitable that you’ll need to take your car in for repairs and maintenance once in awhile, but what are you supposed to do when it seems like your vehicle is spending more time in the service bay than in your garage?

Well, if you keep taking your car in to repair the same problem and it never gets fixed, or if one thing after another goes wrong, you may have a lemon. And if your vehicle is a lemon, you may be entitled to receive a refund, a replacement vehicle, or a cash settlement – at least in some countries.

In the United States, so-called “Lemon Laws” have been around for more than a quarter of a century. They vary from state to state, but every state has one. Other countries around the world are either adopting their own lemon laws, or their judiciaries are more strongly enforcing consumer rights.

For example, last spring the Delhi Consumer Commission denied an appeal of an order that had mandated that Hyundai Motor India replace Jitesh Kumar Gupta’s car engine and pay him Rs 10,000 for “mental agony and harassment” and compensate him Rs 1,000 for the cost of the legal action. According to a report in The Economic Times, “Commission president Justice J D Kapoor said, ‘In such cases, we have take a view that it is a misconceived notion that unless a district forum finds a vehicle suffers from any manufacturing defect, it cannot issue an order to replace the vehicle or engine by a new vehicle or a new engine.’”

In the Philippines, the legislature recently approved a proposed Lemon Law, giving protection to buyers of new motor vehicles. The measure outlines that the dealer and manufacturer have to pay for the cost of up to four repair attempts to fix the defect. If it isn’t repaired, the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle.

In Canada, each province has consumer protection statutes, and consumers can submit disputes to the Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP) to get relief, while in Australia, the government is in the process of enacting a Lemon Law. The European Union Product Warranty Directive requires manufacturers to provide warranties for at least 2 years for their products and to refund or replace such products in the event the product does not conform to warranty.

Sergei Lemberg is a U.S. attorney practicing lemon law in seven states. Visit for more information.

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