Published June 9, 2015, Dealer’s Voice – Did you know that the New Motor Vehicle Board offers a free and informal consumer dispute resolution program for new car dealers? The Consumer Mediation Services Program provides mediation services for disputes consumers have with new car dealers, manufacturers and distributors licensed in California. The program assists parties who have not yet retained an attorney, filed a lawsuit or been to arbitration.
The program provides a neutral mediator who works with the parties to achieve a resolution that is agreeable to all involved. The mediator has no authority to force a party to resolve the dispute in a manner they do not agree with; therefore, the dealer is never forced to provide the consumer with what they are demanding. If a resolution is not reached, the parties are left in the same position that they were in prior to the mediation.
Below is a list of some of the types of issues that can be mediated in the Consumer Mediation Services Program:
- Warranty / repair disputes
- Contract disputes
- Used vehicles which are still under the original warranty
- Used vehicles sold by a new dealer
- Consumer complaints regarding a recreational vehicle’s chassis, chassis cab, and drive train (although these are initially referred to the Department of Consumer Affairs)
Not all types of disputes or complaints fall under the Consumer Mediation Services Program’s jurisdiction. Below is a list of some of the types of cases which the Program does not have authority to mediate:
- Lemon Law
- Vehicles sold “as is”
- Odometer fraud
- Sales or transactions by private parties
- Used vehicles purchased from an exclusively used car dealership, which have no remaining original warranty
The Consumer Mediation Services Program is extremely successful in resolving disputes, boasting a 70% success rate in achieving resolution. Not only does a successful mediation allow you to avoid the high costs of litigation, it may also result in maintaining a positive relationship with the customer. If you would like to take part in the Consumer Mediation Services Program, you may call (916) 445-1888, or fill out a mediation request form, which can be found at https://www.nmvb.ca.gov/apps/consumer_program/sendmediationform_2010.aspx.