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Using Auto Warranty to Get Free Repairs You Are Entitled to Receive

THE CUSTOMER ARBITRATION PROCEDURE


Arbitration is the process by which two parties—in this case, you and the manufacturer of your car—authorize a third party to resolve a dispute. The third party used by most manufacturers is the Better Business Bureau (BBB) AUTO LINE, or the Automotive Consumer Action Program (AUTOCAP) of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The address for AUTO LINE is
BBB AUTO LINE,
Council of Better Business Bureaus,
4200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 800,
Arlington, VA 22203.

The toll-free telephone number is 800-955-5100.

The address for AUTOCAP is
AUTOCAP,
National Automobile Dealers Association,
8400 Westpark Drive,

McLean, VA 22102.

The telephone number is 703-821-7000.

Some manufacturers, particularly Chrysler and Ford, don't use AUTO LINE or AUTOCAP but have set up their own arbitration panels. This may give the appearance of asking the fox to guard the henhouse, but this is not the case. Both Chrysler and Ford arbitration panels are free to act as independently of the manufacturer and its dealers as are AUTO LINE and AUTOCAP.

As with AUTO LINE and AUTOCAP, the panels that sit in judgment of disputes with Chrysler and Ford consist of three voting members: a local consumer advocate, an independent technical representative certified by the National Institute of Automotive
Service Excellence, and a representative from the general public.

In addition to avoiding the hassle of going to court, there are these other benefits associated with customer arbitration:

  • It's free. You don't need a lawyer, unless you want one, and there isn't any fee for filing a complaint.
  • It's relatively fast. In most cases, a decision will be given within 40 days from the time you file your complaint.
  • You need not attend the meeting at which your case is discussed unless you wish to appear. However, you do have to submit a written statement of your complaint, which has to include your name, address, a description of the vehicle, and the vehicle identification number. Offer any documentation you believe is necessary to strengthen your case.
  • The panel's decision is binding on the dealer but not on you. You don't have to accept it. If you wish to pursue further action, you can bring the matter to court.
    Important: Keep in mind that customer arbitration panels review only warranty disputes. They don't handle matters involving the sale of vehicles, personal injury, property damage, design of a vehicle, or matters in litigation.

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