The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is applying the Consumer Act, instead of the Lemon Law, in the investigation of the alleged safety issue of Mitsubishi Montero because the Consumer Act authorizes the agency to initiate a product recall on a safety issue.
DTI Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba, who is scheduled to hold a hearing today where at least seven experts are expected to attend on consumer complaints filed against Mitsubishi Montero for sudden unintended acceleration (SUA), said that Article 10 of the Consumer Act is more applicable in the Montero case than the Lemon Law.
Article 10 of the law is a provision against injurious, dangerous and unsafe products. It states “Whenever the departments find, by their own initiative or by petition of a consumer, that a consumer product is found to be injurious, unsafe or dangerous, it shall, after due notice and hearing, make the appropriate order for its recall, prohibition or seizure from public sale or distribution: Provided, That, in the sound discretion of the department it may declare a consumer product to be imminently injurious, unsafe or dangerous, and order is immediate recall, ban or seizure from public sale or distribution, in which case, the seller, distributor, manufacturer or producer thereof shall be afforded a hearing within forty-eight (48) hours from such order.
The ban on the sale and distribution of a consumer product adjudged injurious, unsafe or dangerous, or imminently injurious, unsafe or dangerous under the preceding paragraph shall stay in force until such time that its safety can be assured or measures to ensure its safety have been established.”
“The Consumer Act authorizes DTI to initiate recall, there is no such power in the Lemon Law. And we don’t need five SUAs to happen.” he stressed. The Lemon law requires four attempts to repair the defective car before the manufacturer is required to replace the unit. The Consumer Act is more of a preventive mechanism to stop similar incident in the future.
Dimagiba hopes to get good technical knowledge and recommendation from the invited experts on the matter in today’s hearing.
Dimagiba stressed that a hearing is required before DTI can initiate a recall even as he denied reports the agency has already ordered a recall.
DTI data showed a total of 10 consumer complaints filed with the DTI, with 9 of them relating to SUA issue. Except for the two complaints filed this year, all the previous complaints were either dismissed or settled.
Of the ten complaints, 4 were dismissed but complainants decided to file their cases before the court, two were dismissed for insufficient evidence, one was dismissed with comprise agreement by both parties, and 2 complaints are still pending for decision.
One complaint in 2009 was resolved via refund, but this was not an SUA issue, but on the unusual knocking sound in the engine.
Dimagiba explained that settlement of a case by the manufacturer/dealer and consumer is one thing. The big issue, he said, is safety and that is what DTI will investigate.
Drawing similarity to a defective medicine, Dimagiba said, “a defective medicine must be recalled even if you have only one accident of loss of life.”
“The challenge is Mitsubishi is handling the complaint on a case basis. We do not agree with that on the safety issue,” he said.
What DTI would like to establish is the transparency of the entire process.
This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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