Skoda’s refusal to honour warranty staggers legal experts

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Two warning lights appeared on our Skoda Fabia, eight days before the warranty expired. The Skoda handbook recommends driving immediately to the nearest dealer if these lights illuminate, as the car can suddenly lose power. However, neither of our two local Skoda dealers could offer a booking until after the warranty expired, both saying we would have to pay for the repair. Neither would formally log the fault as having arisen during the warranty period. They are adamant this is Skoda policy, which implies any warranty claim can be rejected by not dealing with it until after the expiry date.
FK, Dunbar

Skoda’s stance is, in my opinion, a breathtaking rebuttal of consumer rights, and I wonder if other brands are similarly trying it on. The email you received when you complained to Skoda UK customer service echoed the dealers’ stance and recommended you find another dealer (the next nearest is 55 miles away) which could fit you in. It helpfully attached the warranty terms and conditions. Nowhere does it state faults must be inspected before the warranty expires, only that they are reported as soon as they occur.

Skoda UK changed its tune when I got in touch. Or, rather, it glossed over the fact that its own customer service had upheld this phantom policy and laid all the blame on the dealerships. It says: “I can confirm that if a potential warranty issue is officially raised with a Skoda retailer before the end of the warranty, regardless of whether the car has been inspected, Skoda UK will honour the claim providing that the inspection confirms the issue, initially raised by the customer, to be covered under warranty.”

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When pressed as to why head office hadn’t confirmed this when you complained, it said it was “working to ensure” its dealer network was fully informed of warranty terms and conditions. It seems that only because you turned to the press that customer service conjured up an appointment for your car to be assessed.

Consumer law expert Gary Rycroft, partner at Joseph A Jones & Co, says he is “staggered by their audacity!” He confirmed that even if the “policy” was in the terms and conditions, it would be an unfair clause and therefore not legally enforceable. “The logical conclusion is that if they never had any inspection appointments available ever, they would never have to abide by the warranty,” he says.

The main image on this article was changed on 26 April 2022 to remove a photo of a potentially identifiable dealership that was not involved in this case.

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