KUWAIT: Recently, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued a decree banning local agents of all car brands from charging file opening fees at their maintenance or service centers. The decree states that local agents of the manufacturing company should not refuse providing service or maintenance to vehicles even if the vehicle was imported from outside Kuwait, or whether the service is being demanded by the original owner or later buyers.
The company is also not allowed to charge any additional fees for service when the car is under warranty, except the value of the repairs. Agents have various charges and different rules for maintenance services.
They in general do not charge the file opening fee for vehicles bought from their showrooms, but most do charge for vehicles bought abroad. The operator at the maintenance department of a popular agency admitted charging clients for opening a file. “Our service center charges KD 50 just for opening a file for service for a vehicle that was imported from outside Kuwait or one not originally bought from our agency.
This fee is not charged for vehicles bought from GCC agents,” said Tony, the technician at the service center. “I was not informed of the new ministry decree, as I just returned from the holiday. Also, no clients have asked me about his issue yet,” he added.
Ministry inspection The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is not inspecting all places and agencies if they apply the decree, but they will go based on a complaint filed by a client. “Our inspectors go to the agency if a client complains. Even if he didn’t pay a fee for opening the file, it’s enough if the employee at the agency demands a fee. Then the inspector will accompany the client to the agency to check the claim. If the agency is in Shuwaikh or Rai, then clients should file a complaint at the inspection department located in Shuwaikh at the old vegetable market,” inspector Abdullah Al-Ali told Kuwait Times.
The inspectors don’t issue fines to violating agencies. “Our job is not to issue fines but to investigate the complaint by a specialized committee from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which then transfers the claim to the prosecution and the court will then judge the case and issue a verdict which sets the sanction,” explained Ali.
The staff of a call center of another auto agency of Japanese vehicles noted that they don’t apply this fee. “Even before this ministry decree, our agency was not charging clients any file opening fees, even it was imported from outside. We only charge for the service or spare parts the client needs if the vehicle is not under warranty,” stressed Noha.
Exorbitant fees Another very popular car agency has set a different way of forcing clients to pay exorbitant fees. “We don’t apply a fee for opening a file for maintenance. We have optional fees if the client wants to enjoy special services. If the client wants to fix his vehicle or get maintenance, he will get an appointment after five months. If he doesn’t want to wait, he can then pay the ‘VIP charge’ of KD 3,000, which is paid only once in a lifetime. For this fee he will be treated as a VIP client and will always get the appointment in the time he chooses, in addition to many other benefits and advantages,” stressed Mahmoud from the service center.