We know a few things about Republic Act No. 10642, also known as the Philippine Lemon Law, and we’ll know a whole lot more about this newly signed law as soon as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issues the necessary Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). Based on what we know about the law, here are the steps that a consumer must take to avail of his/her rights under the Philippine Lemon Law [Update: the Philippine Lemon Law took effect on 7 August 2014; see also effectivity and coverage]:
1. Take the Vehicle for Repair
If a customer finds a defect in a brand-new motor vehicle, the customer cannot complaint with the DTI. Not yet. The customer must bring the car to the SAME manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer for REPAIRS. This is understandable (and the usual practice) because otherwise, the DTI, which is doing other tasks (not the least of which is serving as the lead agency in preparing the Philippines for the ASEAN Economic Cooperation in 2015), would be swamped by legal issues that may be solved much better by mechanics. The question, of course, is this: who will shoulder the expense for the repair? [See also Q&A on the Philippine Lemon Law (Republic Act No. 10642)]
2. Take the Vehicle for Repair
This is not a typographical error. If the SAME defect manifests itself for a SECOND time, the consumer must go through Step 1 all over again. The customer has to take the same vehicle to the same manufacturer/distributor/authorized dealer/retailer to have the same complaint looked at and repaired. An impatient customer may try to file a complaint directly with the DTI but I betchabygollywow the complaint will be dismissed/shelved for being premature.
3. Take the Vehicle for Repair
Tough luck. If the same defect manifests itself for a THIRD time, which means there is the SAME complaint, the consumer has to go through Step 1 all over again. Why? Because the law (and presumably the Implementing Rules and Regulations [IRR] that will be issued) says so. Patience is indeed a virtue under the Philippine Lemon Law.
4. Take the Vehicle for Repair
As previously noted, there must be AT LEAST four (4) separate repair attempts. Only when the nonconformity issue remains unresolved after four repair attempts can the consumer invoke his/her rights under the Philippine Lemon Law. If you find the explanation, please tell us.
5. Give a Written Notice
After the four repair attempts, the consumer must NOTIFY — in writing and in the prescribed manner/form — the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer. What will the written notice state? Two things: (1) the unresolved complaint; and (2) the consumer’s intention to invoke his/her rights under the law. The warranty booklet issued by the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer shall clearly state the manner and form of such notice to constitute a valid and legal notice to the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer.
6. Bring the Vehicle to the Manufacturer
After going through the required process of bringing the vehicle for repairs for at least 4 times, and after serving the required written notice on the manufacturer/distributor, the customer might think that the complaint will be heard by the DTI. Not yet. The consumer must bring the vehicle to the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer from where the vehicle was purchased for a final attempt to address the complaint.
7. File a Complaint with the DTI
Only after going through the foregoing process and only when the nonconformity issue remains unresolved can the consumer file a complaint with the DTI, which has the exclusive and original jurisdiction to hear and decide all disputes under the Philippine Lemon Law. In case the consumer wins, he/she is entitled to a replacement of the unit or repurchase of the vehicle. [See the rest of the discussions in Q&A on the Philippine Lemon Law (Republic Act No. 10642)]