Avoid a bum deal and always check the spec sheet

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IN YOUR CORNER

Avoid a bum deal and always check the spec sheet

Read your new car's specification sheet thoroughly or you may never know what should have been a standard fitting

Consumer journalist

If you are among the 138 South Africans who bought a VW Amarok Extreme bakkie between May 2017 and May 2018, you may or may not be driving around with a nice warm bum this winter.
That’s because the first batch which VWSA imported from VW’s Argentina plant last year arrived without the heated seat feature which was – and still is – advertised as a feature in all the local marketing material.
The next batch of those luxury bakkies – which did have heated seats – went on sale last November, and for the next seven months were sold along with the out-of-spec bakkies with no heated seats, making buying an Amarok Extreme a lottery for buyers when it came to seat specification.
And here’s where it gets really interesting.
VWSA was unaware of the missing heated seats in that first batch when the bakkies arrived in the country. The company discovered the problem in early June, two weeks after the first ones were sold to customers, but chose not to alert its dealers; hence the buyers would have been unaware of the missing feature.
The Amarok Extreme which Richard Howard of Randburg bought from the VW Princes Springs dealership last October was one of the no-heated seats batch, and given that winter was over, it took him a few weeks to realise that.“I began asking for the correct seats to be ordered and fitted as I had paid for them, the vehicle is incomplete without them, and this will no doubt affect my resale in the future,” he told In Your Corner.
After a few interactions with VWSA and the Springs dealership, he was offered R5,000 as compensation and told the seats could not be “retro fitted”.
He refused. The compensation offer was later increased to R10,000, which he accepted, “although I would have preferred to have the correct seats fitted, but it seems that is just not possible”. 
I have been wondering about the others who bought this vehicle without heated seats – some may not have read the specification sheet thoroughly and may never know that heated seats should have been a standard fitment in the Amarok Extreme. 
“It took me a few weeks to realise they were missing and luckily I still had the brochure to refer back to.  Neither VWSA or the dealership contacted me about it and I presume they are just waiting for affected owners to contact them.”It appears his assumption is spot on.
“We are unaware of the extent to which dealers disclosed the deviation at the time of sale after VWSA became aware of the issue,” said VWSA’s GM of group communicaitons, Matt Gennrich.
“We are, however, aware that not all customers were informed. Customers who raised the issue as a concern were compensated.”
Gennrich confirmed that heated seats can’t be retro fitted to the bakkies. 
He also pointed out that: “We do carry a disclaimer on all our marketing material relating to specifications that these may vary at times and can be changed without prior notice.”
So in the case of the Amarok Extreme, for those 138 people who bought the models without heated seats, which would have made this winter a lot more bearable, especially for those with early starts, the advice is – you don’t ask, you don’t get.
So ask. And there’s now a R10,000 compensation precedent.
You can thank Richard Howard for that.
Moral of the story: Don’t assume that the spec in the adverts, on the manufacturer’s website, and in the glossy brochure is actually in the car that you’re buying. 
Never assume
On the subject of motoring assumptions, Connie Papageorge assumed, having driven a 4x4 VW Amarok for about five years, that when she traded it in for a new model – an automatic – that it was also a 4x4, because she discussed all the specs with the salesman, who referred to the bakkie’s “new low range button”.
There was no manual with the car at the time of the sale, Papageorge being told they were out of stock.
Three weeks later, when she got stuck in sand, and tried to engage low range, she discovered the bakkie was actually a 4x2 model.
The dealership took no responsibility for the “misunderstanding” but offered to swap the bakkie with a demo with lower spec, or buy it back at 25% less than what she paid for it.
“Either the salesman didn’t know what model it was himself, or he lied about the low range button – I have no way of knowing,” Papageorge said. 
Eighteen months later she traded the bakkie in at another VW dealership for a 4x4 model.
“It was partly my mistake for not making absolutely sure,” she says, and a very expensive one.
The 4x4 and the 2x4 are identical in looks, Papageorge says, but for the badge on the back. “On the 4x2 there is no badge; on the back of the 4x4 there’s a ‘4 motion’ badge. I saw no badge, and there was no manual to refer to, so I assumed …”
CONTACT WENDY:
Email: consumer@knowler.co.za
Twitter: @wendyknowler
Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer#SHELFIE
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