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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Solon files local version of Lemon law
Writer: Lorelei V. Castillo, Media Relations Service-PRIB
11 January 2014 11:07:32 AM

A lawmaker has filed a bill similar to the "lemon law" of the United States to protect the buyers of motor vehicles, particularly those that fail to meet the standards of quality and performance.

Rep. Mark Villar (Lone District, Las Piņas City) said House Bill 3199 would strengthen consumer protection in the purchase of brand new vehicles and provides legal remedies to buyers who face the ill fate of lemon automobiles ending up in their hands.

Villar said the historical antecedents of the lemon law originated in the United States and was crafted primarily to return to the consumer the full value of money.

"It provides that if a manufacturer or its authorized dealer cannot successfully repair a defective product within a reasonable number of repair attempts. The manufacturer must either promptly replace or repurchase the product," Villar explained.

Villar said given the fast-paced nature of the current time, owning a motor vehicle now is not considered a luxury but more of a necessity to cope with everyday duties and responsibilities.

"Coping with this necessity does not come cheap. Owning a motor vehicle is a big investment and could take a substantial chunk of one's savings. For some unfortunate buyers, an investment in this endeavor has become for naught after they acquired a 'lemon' or those that fail to meet the standards of quality and performance," Villar said.

The young lawmaker added that because of this, buyers continue with the burden of retaining the "lemon" and paying the expensive cost, without equitable redress for their unlucky fate.

"The State declares to promote full protection to the rights of consumers in the sale of motor vehicles against sales and trade practices which are deceptive, unfair or otherwise inimical to the consumers and the public interest," Villar said.

Covered under the measure to be known as the "Lemon Law of 2013," are brand new motor vehicles with non-conformity reported by the consumer within twelve months from the date of original delivery to the consumer or P20,000 kilometers of operation after such delivery, whichever comes first.

Under the bill, it shall be the obligation of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer to attend to the complaints of the consumer upon receipt of the motor vehicle and the notice of non-conformity required under this Act, making the repairs and undertaking such actions to make the vehicle conform to the standards or specifications of the manufacturer or distributor of such vehicle.

To compensate for the non-usage of the vehicle while under repair and during the period of availment of the Lemon Law rights, the manufacturer shall provide the consumer with a reasonable daily transportation allowance, an amount which covers the transportation of the consumer from his or her residence to his or her regular workplace and vice versa, equivalent to an air-conditioned taxi fare or a service vehicle at the option of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer.

If the consumer remains unsatisfied with the dealer-manufacturer's efforts to repair the vehicle, the consumer may file a complaint before the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The bill mandates the DTI to exercise exclusive and original jurisdiction over disputes. In case a non-conformity of the vehicle is found by the DTI, it shall rule in favor of the consumer and direct the dealer-manufacturer to replace the motor vehicle with a similar or comparable motor vehicle in terms of specifications and value, subject to availability and accept the return of the motor vehicle, paying back the consumer the purchase price plus collateral charges.

Villar said a P100,000 fine shall be imposed on car manufacturers; distributors or dealers who fail to observe the disclosure agreement.