Good Day ProBonoMatters Community
I’ve had to approach the Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa (MIOSA) in an attempt to get justice against what I consider to be a patently irrational and unfair behaviour displayed by Tata South Africa and its associates. The concerned associates include Liquid Capital a division of Imperial Group.
I turned to MIOSA after Imperial Group CEO Mark Lamberti promised swift resolution of the matter. Sadly even Lamberti’s apparent swiftness came to nought. And so I told him: Let’s meet in the court of public opinion. And here we are!
I must state that my first virtual encounter with MIOSA did not inspire confidence. MIOSA’s dull website could do with a total revamp. We might do well to remind one another that we are in the 2016th Year of the Lord. A soft copy of a pamphlet does not pass as a website. Landing on http://www.miosa.co.za/ is simply painful even for a BBT (Born-Before-Technology) like me. But then desperation can breed patience.
And so I endured through the process of downloading a PDF copy of the MIOSA Application for Assistance Form, literally putting pen to paper and scanning it together with other required documents before submission by email. At the point of emailing the form to email@example.com, you can’t help but think I’m wasting my time here because of the unnecessarily laborious physical process of submitting a complaint. I’m certain MIOSA can acquire an interactive online platform that can deliver them into the 21st Century for less than R20 000 via the open source avenue.
I may have been wrong about MIOSA though. Its technological inertia does not seem to equal inefficiency. I did receive more than an acknowledgement of my complaint eight days after submission. I call this swift given my initial expectation. The email titled ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RECEIPT OF THE COMPLAINT AND OUR REFERENCE: came with a reference number and more. The email told me that my matter has been registered and now MIOSA will begin engagement with Tata and its associates.
My matter is as follows:
I bought and took delivery of a brand new vehicle, Tata Super Ace, in February last year (2015) from a Tata dealership located in Olifantsfontein Street in Midrand in a transaction financed by Nedbank.
The transaction came with a service plan administered by a company called Liquid Capital, a subsidiary of Imperial Holdings. The service plan covers the cost of service at every interval of 10 000 km up until the vehicle reaches 100 000km.
The first service was due at 10 000km mark or 12 months whichever is greater. The vehicle clocked 10 000km in December 2015 at which time it was extremely busy and could not be taken in.
Commanded by work load, I only managed to book the vehicle for the first service on the 14th of January 2016, by which time the vehicle had covered just over 15 000km.
And so, on the 14th of January 2016 I was told that Liquid Capital is rejecting my claim as per service plan because the vehicle had exceeded the first service threshold by about 5 000km. I paid for the cost of the service, R3 163,00 (Three thousand one hundred and sixty three rands) from my pocket to the Tata Midrand Dealership. I must state that the quality of customer service at this dealership leaves much to be desired.
When I called Liquid Capital to register my dissatisfaction, the call centre agents repeated the over-the-threshold story as a justification for the company to walk away from its obligation of covering the service. I tried to escalate the matter further within Liquid Capital but there was no channel to do so.
And so I decided to escalate the matter outside Liquid Capital after more than two weeks of frustrating silence. I wrote a letter of grievance addressed to Imperial Holdings’ CEO Mark Lamberti. Imperial Holdings owns Liquid Capital whilst it is also the Tata retailer in South Africa. I also enlisted in my letter of grievance Tata South Africa customer care.
To his credit Lamberti was quick to respond. On the day of receiving my complain, 4th of February 2015, he acknowledged receipt and directed my matter to Kerry Cassel who is the CEO of Liquid Capital. On the same day, the 4th of February, I received a call from Liquid Capital reiterating their initial position: They were not going to cover the service because my vehicle had exceeded the service due mark by 5 000km.
I don’t know about you but I find this rule to be strange and unfair. It is a lame excuse by Tata and its associates to escape from their financial obligation.
I would understand if they were telling me that the crossing of the 10 000km service threshold has caused the service demand and fee to be above the normal rate and therefore I’m expected to top up to cover the additional costs. But no, the service fee, they were meant to pay for, which I was made to pay, is the same amount I could have paid had I brought the vehicle when it clocked 10 000km.
I’m of the view that the story used to exclude my car to be covered for the first service is grossly unfair. And so I humbly placed the matter in the hands of the MIOSA.
While waiting for MIOSA’s processes to turn towards conclusion I can’t help but think that this matter also deserves to be tabled to the Short Term Insurance Ombudsman. This is because the defaulting company, Liquid Capital is in essence a financial services firm. And so I’m tabling this matter to the ProBonoMatters community to solicit a view as to whether I should hedge my bets by filing a complaint with the Short Term Insurance Ombudsman concurrently to the MIOSA process. How about also tapping the general consumer ombudsman.
Mr P Radebe