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Canada’s National Auto Consumer Arbitration Plan Reaches Milestones

To the Members of The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Canada’s National Auto Consumer Arbitration Plan Reaches Milestones

The Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP) reached several significant milestones by the end of 2007 as it completed its 13th year of operation.

CAMVAP is the national arbitration plan under which consumer allegations of manufacturers’ defects or improper application of the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty can be arbitrated with results that are binding on both the consumer and the manufacturer.

By the end of 2007, more than 5,000 arbitrations had been held leading to the manufacturers being ordered to buy back 1,081 vehicles with a total value of $22,073,190.

Manufacturers were also ordered to complete 1,770 repairs to consumers’ vehicles and reimburse 620 consumers for $837,992 in repairs for which the consumer had initially paid.

The program also handled 102,580 consumer telephone calls requesting information.

Dr. James Savary, who represents the Consumers’ Association of Canada on the program’s board of directors and has been chair of the CAMVAP board for the past 7 years, is enthusiastic about the program. “CAMVAP is truly unique as a dispute resolution program that operates in all provinces and territories under exactly the same rules”, he said. “CAMVAP’s job is to ensure that consumers have a neutral program to resolve problems with their vehicles in an efficient and timely manner. When a consumer has a dispute with the manufacturer over allegations of manufacturing defects or the implementation of the new vehicle warranty, CAMVAP puts both parties in front of an arbitrator who will make the final decision.”

Savary notes that while the buyback results are the attention getter, the program handles many claims where the consumer is not looking for a buyback but rather for repairs or for 2 a refund for repairs already made. These consumers are happy with the vehicle they have and only want a specific problem with that vehicle to be repaired.

Manufacturers make every effort to resolve issues raised by consumers before they become a CAMVAP case. Problems are frequently settled before a CAMVAP hearing is needed; since CAMVAP’s inception, over 800 cases have been settled before the scheduled arbitration date. This is good for consumers and good for the manufacturers. While customer relations are the driving force for this type of settlement, CAMVAP presence is helpful to the consumer in moving the issue forward. The existence of CAMVAP does encourage settlement negotiations in the earlier stages of the problem. Both sides know that CAMVAP is there if a workable solution cannot be reached.

Consumers can find more information about CAMVAP at www.camvap.ca. One of the key features on the website is the VIN checker. Anyone can check to see if a vehicle has been bought back through the program since 2003; all one needs is the VIN number. This information is regularly updated as buyback awards are processed.

CAMVAP covers new and used vehicles from the current plus four model years. For example, in 2008 model years 2004 through 2008 are eligible. The program is free of charge to consumers and cases are normally handled within 70 days. CAMVAP has seven offices across the country to deliver the program and uses the services of about 90 independent arbitrators across Canada to handle the cases. Check the website or call 1-800-207-0685.

All of the major domestic and international manufacturers participate with the exception of BMW and its subsidiary Mini, Mitsubishi and some of the smaller high value vehicle manufacturers such as Maserati, Ferrari, TVR and Lotus.

Savary suggests that consumers consider the availability of CAMVAP as a factor when they are buying or leasing a new vehicle or a late model used vehicle. “While we all want nothing to go wrong with our vehicle that can’t be readily fixed, having CAMVAP available can be a great help when a problem arises”, he observed. “Think of it as a no cost insurance policy”.

CAMVAP will be releasing its 2007 annual report in July.

For Additional Information Contact:

Stephen Moody
General Manager, CAMVAP
416-490-0615 extension 201