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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Vehicle service centers in Qatar to lower prices

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

With reporting from Riham Sheble

One of the country’s largest car dealers has made it cheaper for vehicles owners to get their cars serviced in response to government efforts, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) said.

Yesterday, the government department published a notice Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co. – which is the exclusive distributor of Nissan, Infiniti and Renault vehicles in Qatar – will drop its maintenance prices by 6 to 48 percent, according to a rate schedule published by the MEC.

The ministry said the drop in prices stems from a new set of warranty and service rules imposed upon dealers earlier this year.

Photo for illustrative purposes only
Photo for illustrative purposes only

However, those regulations were aimed at encouraging car dealers to improve their performance and to become more competitive.

They also aimed to raise standards of maintenance and repairs, the ministry said at the time, rather than explicitly push down prices.

The MEC said yesterday that several dealers began “studying the idea of reducing their prices” as they implemented the warranty rules and said Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana was the first to slash its rates.

“MEC inspectors will monitor the compliance of all service centres under the company with the new prices,” the ministry said.

Enforcement action

This year’s new warranty rules were the latest in a string of regulatory and enforcement actions targeting the country’s automotive sector.

The MEC has been penalizing car dealers and repair centers as far back as late 2014, when it lodged seven charges against several businesses following customer complaints about poor service and long delays.

Media reports at the time said some Qatari customers were waiting two weeks for their vehicles to be repaired, while others complained about service centers using fake spare parts and applying arbitrary pricing.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A year later, the ministry ordered car dealers to relax their warranty rules and stop voiding their customers’ coverage simply because their vehicle was serviced at a third-party garage

Dealers, the ministry said at the time, must “give vehicle owners the freedom to choose which shops do maintenance work and repair their cars.”

However, it appears to have done little to improve customer satisfaction, according to the ministry’s own research.

In a survey published late last year, Qatar residents said they believed that service costs were too high, both during and after the warranty period, and expressed limited confidence in repair facilities.

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