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Why didn’t Skoda make its Fabia warranty terms clear?

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I read your article about Skoda refusing to honour a valid warranty and have had a similar experience.

Last year, we noticed bubbling paint on our 2015 Skoda Fabia. We booked it in for assessment as it has a 12-year body protection warranty.

We heard nothing more from the dealer for six months, despite repeated calls. Eventually, we rang Skoda customer care and, weeks later, were told that it could not be repaired under warranty as there had not been a regular paint inspection in accordance with the Skoda service schedule.

The car was serviced at a Skoda dealer until 2020 when the garage ceased its affiliation with the company. Last August we used an independent garage.

On none of the itemised Skoda service reports is there a paint inspection section, and warranty terms and conditions make no mention of required paint checks.

GV, Billingborough, Lincolnshire

Skoda appears, as in the last case I investigated, to rely on clauses which are not made clear in its warranty terms and conditions.

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The body protection warranty states that vehicles have full protection against rust damage provided the problem is reported to an authorised Skoda dealer as soon as it’s discovered and is found to be a manufacturing defect. However, it had told me that your warranty protection was invalidated because paint inspections are required every three years as part of the annual service, and your service records from the dealer and independent garage suggest this wasn’t done.

It points to a clause in a separate part of its Ts and Cs that states vehicles must be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and defects caused by insufficient servicing will not be remedied under the warranty.

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This three-year inspection requirement is not mentioned in the warranty terms provided to customers, so they can’t check whether it’s been carried out.

Skoda says this is because its service guidelines are frequently reviewed. Shortly after I contacted the press office, it offered to fund 60% of the repair cost. When I pointed out the inadequacy of its customer small print, it agreed to honour the warranty.

It says: “Further investigation showed the customer had, in good faith, taken the car to be regularly serviced … we can confirm that Skoda has agreed to cover the cost of the repair in full.”

Cars are now so complex that it’s tricky for customers to prove that a problem is due to a manufacturing defect, and manufacturers know this. If a warranty claim is refused, customers can go after the dealer who sold them the vehicle under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. But if more than six months have passed since they bought it, they have to prove the fault was inherent. It may therefore be worth obtaining an independent report. If that concludes a manufacturing glitch was to blame, they can take the dealer (or the manufacturer if it is a warranty claim) to the small claims court.

But if the dealer is a member of The Motor Ombudsman scheme, that should be their first port of call.

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