Replacing parts can be a costly issue and since the new Guidelines for Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket (“the Guidelines”) have been implemented, a lot of positive progress has been made to facilitate consumer choice and create a more level and equitable trading environment.
Kate Elliott, CEO of Right to Repair, says one area of confusion that still persists is the term “non-original spare parts”, which is used in the Guidelines. These parts generally come with a more competitive price tag but are often misunderstood. The Guidelines definition for non-original spare parts says they are “Spare Parts that carry a Warranty from their manufacturer and are legitimate and traceable for sale in the aftermarket, but that are not Original Spare Parts. Non-Original Spare Parts exclude counterfeit Spare Parts.”
Elliott says that while the definition itself is not a problem, the term “non-original spare parts” on its own has come to have a negative association and are believed to be unsafe and/or unreliable, and when was the last time you actually took the time to look up a definition in an Act? “We at Right to Repair South Africa, would like to cut the confusion and help consumers to understand which parts they should and should not use.
“While there are, of course, second-rate parts out there in the market, not all “non-original” spare parts can be tarred with the same brush. There are a whole host of options in-between that are perfectly safe and reliable to use, with a lower price tag.” Elliott says the Guidelines refer to Original Parts being made by, or for, the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that are interpreted as being motor vehicle manufacturers. In reality, the definition of “OEM” parts could be extended to include the aftermarket component parts manufacturers as well, as they are the originators of the parts that are manufactured, branded and sold in the market by the OEMs. These parts are either branded for the particular OEM and sold by the OEM’s dealer network or are rebranded as aftermarket house brands. “It is the latter that is often referred to as a matching quality part or non-original part,” she says.
She says the easiest way to clear up the confusion is to use the term “Matching Quality Spare Parts” instead of “Non-Original Spare Parts” when referring to parts that, in terms of the Guidelines, are permitted to be used in lieu of original parts. Matching Quality Spare Parts, as the term suggests, refers to parts that have a traceable origin, are of matching quality and carry a warranty of their own. “This clearly excludes any “grey, counterfeit or illegally sourced” parts that put everyone at risk. It does, however, allow consumers to source more competitively priced matching quality spare parts.”