Consumers told to speak up as automaker faces lawsuits
Amid two ongoing cases of customers suing carmakers for alleged defects and false advertising, the nation’s consumer rights agency is urging more owners of problematic cars to step up and follow suit in filing their complaints.
“I believe there are still many more owners of problematic cars out there who are still afraid to speak up and let their voices be heard,” Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI) chairman Sudaryatmo said in a public discussion on Sunday.
According to him, the YLKI received 17 complaints about automotive products throughout 2011, a slight increase from 11 complaints in 2010.
“The number pales in comparison to similar complaints in Malaysia, which reached 1,314 in 2009, and in Hong Kong, which was 153 in 2011,” Sudaryatmo said, adding that Indonesians had yet to grow a strong complaint habit. “A high complaint habit means a good consumer protection system,” he said.
Sudaryatmo also urged all potential car buyers to be more well-informed before purchasing cars. “The most important thing local car buyers must realize is that they have the right to get as much information as possible, and to verify it thoroughly, about a car they wish to buy.”
At least two car users have made national news for suing automakers in recent months.
Nissan March owner Ludmilla Arif recently filed a lawsuit against PT Nissan Motor Indonesia (NMI), Nissan’s sole authorized agent in Indonesia, for alleged false advertising at the South Jakarta District Court.
According to Ludmilla, Nissan advertised that its March hatchback’s fuel efficiency was around 21 kilometers per liter. However, she said that she had determined through her own research that the car’s fuel efficiency was only around 8 kilometers per liter.
The South Jakarta District Court ruled in Ludmilla’s favor on April 17, ordering the carmaker to pay her Rp 160 million (US$17,440). NMI then decided to issue an appeal to the Supreme Court.
NMI is also currently facing another possible legal case, as the parents of Olivia Dewi, a teenager who died inside her burning Nissan Juke in a horrific traffic accident on March 10, reported the carmaker to the Jakarta Police on April 12 for negligence.
Olivia’s father, businessman Soerijo Gondo Setiawan, said that he believed there were some peculiarities in the circumstances that led to the death of his daughter.
Speaking at the same public discussion, automotive observer Jhoni Pramono urged all car owners to really get to know their vehicles. “The least they can do is to really read the cars’ manuals. This way, they can really learn about how to drive their cars properly, what kind of fuel to use, and other things.”
He went on to say that the most common example of car owners failing to understand their vehicles is when they “buy expensive cars just to look cool, and then they fill the car with low-octane fuel because they can’t afford the appropriate, high-octane fuel.”
The Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (Gaikindo) deputy chairman, Johnny Darmawan, said that all sole agents had done all they could to educate potential car buyers about the cars they wanted to buy. “We’ve given [the car owners] manual books. We’ve carefully explained to them [buyers] how to take care of their cars properly. ”