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Breakdowns drive motorist over bend

Endless car challenges rile VWSA client

Dzivhuluwani Ramovha at the Hatfield VW in Pretoria where he bought his car in 2019.
Dzivhuluwani Ramovha at the Hatfield VW in Pretoria where he bought his car in 2019.

A motorist is at loggerheads with a car dealership after a VW Golf R he bought from them had to have its gearbox changed and clutch repaired within the first three years.

But it is his latest crisis, an engine replacement, that was the last straw for Dzivhuluwani Ramovha of Midrand. As a result, he wants to cut ties with VW and its branch in Hatfield, Tshwane, where he bought the potent hatchback in 2019. 

Ramovha's latest breakdown happened in September and the car dealership told him that his engine would have to be replaced but has been struggling to find a new engine locally and abroad for the past four weeks.

“We first fought over getting a loan car as I needed one for work as a [project manager]. For three weeks I could not go to sites outside Gauteng.

"I asked them for a replacement car with the same year model and mileage because the one I had was giving me problems but they refused, saying it did not make a business sense.

“They then proposed that I settle my current vehicle with my bank in order to buy a newer model. I refused because it was going to set me back financially.  I'm left with about two years to finish paying it off and I was planning to keep it afterwards. I also don't want to be pressurised to incur new debt,” said Ramovha. 

Sowetan Consumer has seen an email from Chris Harmse, the dealership's sales manager, to Ramovha dated October 10, in which he apologises for the delays and their reasons for not offering their client another car. 

“We want to assure you that we always prioritise our customers' needs. However, please understand that certain limitations arise when it comes to parts. We do not manufacture engines in our workshop and rely on the manufacturer for supply,” read the email.

“Returning the vehicle, as per your mail below, is unfortunately not an option. Since you are the original owner and have already  travelled over 120,000km in the vehicle, we cannot accept it as a return and as much as we want to guarantee you a fault-free vehicle for a lifetime, we cannot.

"It’s a man-made machine and anything can brake because of usage. However, that is why our vehicles come with a warranty and should something go wrong the manufacturer warranty will cover, if it's not related to wear and tear,” he added. 

Leoni Bowkers, specialist from the office of the VW MD in Kariega, Eastern Cape, also wrote to Ramovha last week to assure him that they “are exploring all avenues, to see how we can expedite the part [engine]” and will remain in contact with him until his vehicle is repaired and returned to him.

Contacted for comment on Friday, Bowkers acknowledged Sowetan Consumer's request for comment but had not responded by the time of going to press. Harmse said he was out of office and could not respond despite questions being forwarded to his WhatsApp which he read. 

“It's a pity because I wanted VWSA to act much quicker on this matter. I'm currently driving their loan car. [But] the conditions disadvantage me ... such as the R10,000 excess, which I would have to pay in the event of an accident or damage to the vehicle. I feel like I'm in this alone and it's financially draining me because I've already spent  a lot of money fixing this car,” said Ramovha.

He said the car first broke down about four months after he bought it brand new from the same dealership. At the time it had a problem with a clutch, which had to be replaced in 2021 when it broke down again. Last year the car's gearbox had to be replaced following another fault.

Dzivhuluwani Ramovha's car was towed from Midrand to a dealership in Pretoria after its gearbox broke
Dzivhuluwani Ramovha's car was towed from Midrand to a dealership in Pretoria after its gearbox broke


SA Consumer Complaints (SACC) and the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) are some of the avenues available to consumers who are having difficulties with car dealerships.

• RMI renders the facilitation of a mediatory service in relation to disputes between consumers and businesses (RMI members) in the motor industry. The RMI follows a process of facilitation and attempts to reach amicable resolutions to disputes in a manner that is cost-effective for all parties concerned.

In an ideal situation, where the retailer or the supplier is a member of the RMI, the consumer affairs office will attempt to intervene and facilitate the mediation process between the parties to achieve an amicable resolution. The facilitation process is informal, and therefore no legal representation is allowed.

During these proceedings, the RMI remains neutral and impartial. To achieve success, both parties (consumer and the dealer) must be willing to participate with a view of achieving a win-win resolution. The service is free of charge. The RMI’s consumer affairs officer facilitates disputes that are [from] not more than six months after delivery of goods to the consumer.

• SACC also assists desperate consumers.

“We can also assist the consumers to motivate their case and provide them with the necessary ammunition to take the dispute to Miosa (Motor Industry Ombudsman SA). Our standard fee is R3,500 and if the outcome is negative we will assist the consumer to take the matter to the next level,” said SACC professional arbitrator and mediator Duon Odendaal.

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