News, 28 May 2010
Veho Group Oy Ab has provided the FCA with a commitment by which it undertakes to improve the independent repairers' access to the technical training it regularly arranges for the Mercedes-Benz motor vehicles. The commitment decision issued by the FCA today will increase the independent repairers' possibilities to provide consumers with expert services and therefore create competition between the authorised and independent repairers and garages. Effective competition between repair shops has a major impact on car owners, as the service and repair costs of motor vehicles amount to estimated 40 per cent of the total costs of ownership of a car.
In order to allow the independent repairers to offer expert services to consumers, particular attention has long been paid to the accessibility of technical information and training in the competition rules concerning the motor vehicle sector (= the EU Commission block exemption and the related guidelines). Issuing a commitment decision is based on Article 13 (3) of the Competition Act, under which the FCA may order that the commitments shall be binding on the business undertakings involved in an alleged competition restraint.
Warranties shall not restrict customer's possibility to choose repairer
The use of warranties also has considerable effects on competition in the service and repair market. In the new competition rules effective from June, particular attention is paid to the abuse of warranties.
Warranties shall not for example prevent consumers from using the services of independent repairers by stipulating that the service be conducted by authorised repairers to maintain the warranties. Car manufacturers may still request, however, that customers use the services of authorised garages in repair work covered by the manufacturer's warranty.
The complaint suggested that the warranty practices applied by Veho would restrict the independent repairers' possibility to compete. However, the FCA found no reason to intervene with Veho's activities. According to Veho, consumers are able to use the services of independent repairers for scheduled maintenance during the manufacturer's warranty period.
Cf. also the Commission's press release of 27 May 2010: "Commission adopts revised competition rules for motor vehicle distribution and repair".
Senior Research Officer Ville Terävä
Head of Research Hannele Väisänen