In March 2015 the Competition Protection Agency initiated proceedings (for further details please see "Competition Protection Agency investigates automotive industry") against Hyundai Avto Trade doo – the authorised importer and distributor for Hyundai in Slovenia – and its authorised mechanics. At the time, the agency had reason to believe that the companies were concluding agreements on selective qualitative distribution which led to the foreclosure of independent mechanics and alternative distribution channels for spare parts.
In line with Article 39 of the Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act, Hyundai Avto Trade has proposed remedies to the agency in order to address the agency's concerns and eliminate the alleged foreclosures on the market. The agency has invited all parties which are active on the market for repairs and maintenance works on Hyundai vehicles and those active on the market for the sale and use of non-genuine spare parts (of the same quality) for Hyundai to provide comments, opinions and suggestions on the basis of the proposed remedies, which have been published on the agency's website.
The remedies proposed by the parties to the proceedings are as follows:
- Hyundai Avto Trade will amend the text of its warranty certificates and service books so that there will be no doubt as to the rights that consumers have when claiming warranty.
- Hyundai Avto Trade will remove all content from its website which could mislead consumers when claiming a warranty and add content which will clearly determine the rights that consumers actually have in such situations.
- Hyundai Avto Trade commits itself to the changed content of the warranty certificates and service books and ensure that warranties are retained when vehicles are regularly maintained in accordance with the technical requirements of the manufacturer, irrespective of whether the vehicles:
- were maintained at an authorised or independent mechanic; and
- contain genuine or non-genuine spare parts (of the same quality).
- The company also agrees to publish this on its website and communicate the information to all Hyundai consumers (in the company's customer base) that own vehicles with valid Hyundai warranties (or Hyundai anti-corrosion warranty);
- Hyundai Avto Trade will provide an explanation and guidance on claiming warranties in accordance with Article 6 of Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act and Article 101 the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to all of its authorised mechanics (in relation to warranty claims from consumers that service their vehicles at independent mechanics and use non-genuine spare parts of the same quality).
- All parties to the proceedings (ie, Hyundai Avto Trade and their authorised mechanics) commit themselves not to:
- mislead owners and potential owners on the issue of warranty claims; or
- treat them discriminatory compared to consumers that maintain their vehicles at authorised mechanics.
- Authorised mechanics commit themselves to following the warranty policy laid down under Paragraph 4.
- Hyundai Avto Trade commits itself to informing Hyundai vehicle owners which still hold a valid warranty of the measures that independent mechanics must follow when undertaking regular maintenance.
- Hyundai Avto Trade commits itself to ensuring that consumers that maintain their vehicles at independent mechanics are informed of relevant campaigns and manufacturer recalls.
- Hyundai Avto Trade commits itself to providing access to original spare parts, technical information, professional training and any equipment needed for the maintenance and repair of Hyundai vehicles to all interested independent mechanics, under the same conditions as for authorised mechanics.
The parties have agreed to undertake these commitments within three months following the adoption of the decision and propose a three-year validity period after which the commitments will no longer be in force.
Interested parties should closely monitor whether the agency will accept the proposed commitments and, at the same time, be alert to any developments which might require further warranty schemes inquiries in the automotive sector.