Hybrid vehicles

THE consumer watchdog has received 28 cases worth more than $290,000 relating to hybrid vehicles since 2015.

In a statement issued yesterday, Consumer Council of Fiji officer in charge Bindula Devi said the council continued to receive consumer complaints in relation to hybrid vehicles and the warranty period which was not honoured by the traders when consumers sought redress.

Ms Devi said six of the complaints were concerning hybrid batteries.

She said recently the council received a case where the complainant purchased a Toyota Prius 1.8L from a trader for $19,000, with a three-month warranty on the battery.

“After using the vehicle for only five days, the complainant noticed that the ‘check-light’ of the vehicle was switched on indicating a problem. Hence, the vehicle was taken to the trader for diagnosis and without any explanation on the cause of the problem, the trader fixed the problem.”

Ms Devi said the issue resurfaced on three occasions and the trader applied the quick fix solutions and returned the vehicle.

“However, when the warranty lapsed and the consumer had taken the car back for the same problem, he was advised that the ‘check-light’ indicated that the battery of the vehicle needed to be changed and the complainant would have to bear the cost of replacement.

“As per the council’s findings, the cost of a battery ranges from $1800-$2500. The 1.8L Prius car has 28 battery cells and if a cell is damaged, the cost of replacing a cell ranges from $50 to $330.”

Ms Devi said the council noted that the vehicle was attended by the trader on numerous occasions during the warranty period, but the issue was not fixed entirely.

“The situation required replacing the battery during the warranty period. However, once the warranty period expired, the problem was identified which required the complainant to pay $200 for servicing and incidental costs for the replacement of the battery cells.

‘The trader failed to rectify the problem when the complainant had been facing difficulties since the purchasing of the vehicle.”

She said the council was worried with the attitude of a handful of deceptive traders who were still thriving in the marketplace at the expense of innocent consumers and urged the traders to comply with the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010.

Section 75 of the Act states: “A person shall not, in trade or commerce engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.”

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