I recently participated in CAMVAP's arbitration process. An arbitrator ruled that Toyota buy back my Echo. It had over 33000 kms and was 16 months old when I received the buy back award. It was a long process (over a year), but one that was fair.
I am sharing my experience with CAMVAP to allow other consumers the chance for a fair arbitration. I hope this site will help prepare you for your case. I have written several articles which will provide you with an understanding of the process and what to expect at the hearing.
Names of the dealership and the individuals involved have been omitted, as it is unnecessary for my purpose. Please email me at CAMVAP Winner if you have any questions.
Please be sure to read my article on "How I Won At CAMVAP".
Over the next 6 months my vehicle made 10 visits (over 32 days total) to the dealership. Each "repair" produced the same result - the noise was still there. I spent numerous hours on the phone with the dealership, and eventually the manufacturer.
Initially, I began to write down the dates I brought the vehicle in. After the first 3 visits in July of 2003, I realized there was going to be an issue getting the work orders. I asked each time I spoke to the dealership's service manager. I only received excuses. Because of this, I decided to tape all conversations with the dealership.
At the beginning of November 2003, I informed the dealership that I was intending to call Toyota Canada (as per the vehicle's manual and CAMVAP).
Dealing with Toyota Canada was no different than the dealership. The representative from Toyota spoke directly to the dealership's service manager. The dealership gave excuses to Toyota Canada, and Toyota provided some suggestions on possible causes of the noise.
After another month passed, I wrote the manufacturer about my situation. In the letter I stated that my vehicle needed to be fixed by a certain date, or I would proceed to CAMVAP.
It was evident I was being ignored. During the entire process the dealership never called to check the status of my vehicle.
At the end of March 2004, I applied to CAMVAP. One of the requirements(which I met) is that your vehicle be less than 1 year old and have under 25000 kms by the date of the abitration hearing.
When you fill out the application you are given the choice of 3 arbitrators. I would suggest selecting no preference - that way there will be no negative feeling with your arbitrator. Mine was professional, courteous and set a comfortable tone for the hearing.
In my application I included transcripts of taped conversations as evidence, as well as the 3 work orders I had received.
After CAMVAP contacted me to set up a hearing date(in my home town), I began organizing my arguments and planning for the hearing.
I prepared an opening statement, a chronology of events and a closing statement. The chronology of events was several pages long, and contained quotes from my transcripts. I had a driving route chosen in advance, that I knew would demonstrate the noise.
The arbitration hearing occurred at the end of May 2004, and lasted 2 hours. Present at my hearing were: the arbitrator, 2 Toyota legal representatives, the dealership’s service manager, myself and my spouse.
After preliminary statements, I demonstrated the noise in my vehicle with a test drive along the pre-planned route. In addition, I constructed a ramp to demonstrate the noise (as a back-up if my driving route was unsuccessful). My vehicle was inspected by the arbitrator and legal rep. The arbitrator noted my odometer reading.
I began my case by reading my prepared statement. I then read my chronology of events. I provided details regarding all visits to the dealership, all phone conversations and all work orders.
The manufacturer's representative then began his case. After hearing my case, he then made some points, but admitted not having been aware of all my issues.
We were allowed to respond to each other's case. Our witnesses were allowed to add additional comments.
The legal rep made a request for one more opportunity to repair the vehicle.
At this time the arbitrator made an interesting statement. “We could not lose”, he said, with their offer. We could give them one last attempt at a repair. After that, we would have 90 days to ensure the vehicle was fixed. If the noise recurred during that time, we could contact CAMVAP and the arbitrator would issue an award (which could go either way).
Our other option was to refuse the offer and ask the arbitrator to issue a decision at that time.
My spouse and I left the hearing room to discuss our options. We agreed that the arbitrator had indicated our best course of action. We did not want to risk losing the option of a buy back. By taking the offer we felt we would be seen as fair and reasonable in the eyes of the arbitrator, in case we needed to contact him again. We were confident that they wouldn’t be able to fix the problem anyways. We took the offer.
The arbitrator issued a consent award, which detailed the agreement between myself and Toyota. We ensured we would be given a rental for the duration of the repair. We requested that the vehicle be delivered by flat bed to their headquarters for repair, to minimize additional kilometres.
After the attempted repair, we had 90 days in which to notify the arbitrator if the problem recurred. The noise came back towards the end of the 90 days. We informed the arbitrator, who set up a conference call a week later.
During the conference call (which lasted 25 minutes), I was given an opportunity to make a statement. After which, their legal rep asked me several questions. His questions were well thought out, but I was again prepared for them. He made some good comments and it seemed he was more prepared.
We were left with an uneasy feeling after the conference call. Had we made the wrong decision at the hearing? The noise was still there and we hoped the arbitrator would award in our favour.
In September 2004, we received an award in our favour.
Post Hearing Award (in brief)
At the first hearing it was undisputed that the Consumer's complaint of a creaking noise in the rear was audible and was an abnormal sound. The Consumer also produced 3 unsuccessful repair work orders and testified that the vehicle had been at an authorized dealership several times more for the same problem. The Consumer agreed to give the Manufacturer another opportunity to repair the noise.
At the second hearing (conference call) the Consumer testified that the noise was still present. He requested a buy back waiving the reduction for use due to his loss of the vehicle for a total of 32 days (10 seperate trips to the dealer)and the inconvenience.
The Manufacturer's Representative testified at the final hearing that the noise came from the pull down latch from the back of the seat which was rubbing on the striker, and when lubricated it fixed the problem. The Consumer, in response testified that this was the first time he was told that this was the problem. The Reprentative testified that he was told by the Service Manager that the noise at the first hearing was not the noise he had heard in the past. The Consumer testified that the noise at the first hearing was indeed the noise from day one. The Representative requested that if a buy-back award is granted that a reduction for use be made simply because the Consumer has had use of the vehicle for (more than a year) and more than 33,000 kms.
After reviewing all the evidence, I concur with the Consumer that an award for a buy-back is justified, however, with a reduction for use. The Manufacturer has had a multitude of opportunities prior to the second hearing to repair the problem without any success.
I concur with the Manufacturer, however that it would be unreasonable to waive the reduction for use when the Consumer, although inconvenienced, has had use of the vehicle for over (a year) and 33,000 kms.
I am calculating the reduction of use from the first hearing due to the Consumer's cooperation in giving the Manufacturer one more opportunity to rectify the problem.
The Award is as follows:
The Manufacturer shall buy-back the Consumer's vehicle in the amount of (over $16,000) which includes a reduction for use.
The Consumer is responsible for recovering where allowable any Provincial sales tax in the Province that they purchased the vehicle.
The Consumer shall deliver his vehicle to the Manufacturer or an authorized dealer agreeable to both parties within 21 days of the receipt of this award, and the Consumer shall comply with the buy-back conditions of the Agreement for Arbitration.
The arbitrator has the power to order repairs, order reimbursement of expenses and repairs, award a buyback of your vehicle (reimbursement of vehicle purchase price, minus reduction for use), or no liability (you lose).
The process requires that you first attempt to settle the issue with the dealership. Your ownership manual will outline steps to resolve the problem, which will be very similiar to what CAMVAP will ask you do. You are required to allow the dealership and their customer service an appropriate amount of time to rectify the problem. If they cannot, then you should contact the manufacturer. Allow the manufacturer sufficient time to solve the dilemma.
If neither the dealership nor manufacturer has fixed the problem after an appropriate amount of time, start the CAMVAP process. Visit the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Program's website at www.camvap.ca and complete the application form. The arbitration, and what is required from you, are explained in detail.
Start Planning Now
IF you suspect a problem with your vehicle, or the dealership is having difficulty repairing it, begin taking detailed notes of the situation. Record the dates you brought your vehicle into the dealership, what action was performed, and whether the repair was successful. If you have a conversation at the dealership or on the phone, write down exactly what was said, so you have a record of it down the road.
Having another person witness your conversations will provide your claim with additional legitimacy. Take a friend or spouse whenever you speak to the service manager.
As soon as you suspect a problem may be developing with the dealership, visit CAMVAP's website. This will answer alot of questions about the arbitration process.
For additional tips, read my article "How I won at CAMVAP".
If you cannot tape the calls, ensure you keep a detailed log of the date, time, who was spoken to, and what was discussed.
Note: In Canada, the law says you can record a phone conversation as long as one party of the recording is aware the conversation is being recorded. In other words, one cannot tape 2 other individuals conversation. If you are taping someone you are talking to you are fine since you are aware of the recording.
Dealerships often state that the work order is open and they therefore cannot give you a copy till the problem is fixed. Try to bypass this reasoning, if possible, as the work orders are essential.
1) Buyback of vehicle
The Arbitrator can force the manufacturer to buy back the vehicle from the owner (either a full buyback or reduced). To receive full purchase price, the vehicle must be under 1 year old and have less than 25000 kms. Otherwise you will be awarded a "reduction for use" buyback. A formula is used to determine the exact amount to be removed. This formula for calculating the reduction for use can be found on CAMVAP's website.
The Arbitrator can award repair of the vehicle. In this instance, the manufacturer is given the opportunity to fix the vehicle, at no cost to the consumer.
3) No Liability
Essentially, this means that the Arbitrator has determined that your case is invalid. The manufacturer is not required to repair your vehicle, pay for expenses, or have any other liability.
Utilizing my spouse's abilities. She contributed immensely to the case work, hearing preparation and spoke at the arbitration. She was instrumental in preparing my chronology of events and writing out the transcripts.
Having a witness (in my case, my spouse) present during the hearing was essential. Between us, we didn’t miss anything that needed to be said. Two heads are always better than one.
Preparation the day before the hearing was key (after the hearing the legal representative made a comment that I presented the most prepared case he had ever seen). The day before was spent rehearsing my statements and preparing for all possible questions.
Planning ahead when I realized a problem was developing.
Taping the phone calls and having a witness to each conversation, which provided indisputable evidence.
Because I read my prepared statements I ensured that I did not leave out any important information.
Having a transcript of all conversations to quote verbatim in the hearing.
Demonstrating my vehicle had a problem. The legal representative remarked that had I been unable to produce the noise, his case would have been easy.
Utilizing the CAMVAP website. An enormous amount of information is at your disposal there.
I was always professional when dealing with the dealership, the manufacturer and the arbitrator.
Cooperating as much as possible.
Not getting all the work orders. After the 2nd month I should have applied to CAMVAP regarding this issue. Although this may not have effected the outcome, it may have helped expedite the process.
Not demanding a replacement vehicle during the first few repair attempts. After the 5th visit, loss of vehicle use was becoming an inconvenience.
No. None whatsoever. They were very friendly and helpful throughout the process. They were quick with responses by phone or email. It is a very fair program.
Were you able to get the PST back?
Yes. I submitted the forms that CAMVAP sent, and received a cheque for the proper amount shortly after.
What was your main reason for proceeding to CAMVAP?
The dealership could not fix the problem. They also displayed very bad customer service, as we were treated poorly on numerous occasions. For example, on one visit the service manager got angry while talking with us and walked away. After the arbitration hearing and subsequent repair attempt by the manufacturer, our vehicle was returned with some cosmetic damage. Not once during the year spanning this occurred did the dealership call for a follow up. I initiated every call and visit.
Would you buy another Toyota vehicle?
Yes. Toyota has an excellent reputation. Check the Lemon-Aid Car Guides and Consumer Reports. I am aware that manufacturing defects are always possible, but in this case, it is how the dealership dealt with the problem which is of concern. I actually bought a new Toyota Echo after receiving my award, as I really believe it is normally a great vehicle. Of course, I bought it from a different dealership. I paid $300 over cost using Car Cost Canada .
Step 1 - Understand Your CAMVAP Role
Step 2 - Identify What You Want
Step 3 - State a Convincing "Why"
Step 4 - Assemble Your Evidence
Step 5 - Plan for the Manufacturer's Case
Step 6 - Prepare to Question and be Questioned
Swearing In of Witnesses
Your case (the Consumer's Case)
The Manufacturer's Case
Inspecting the Vehicle and the Test Drive
The Arbitrator's Award
If you are interested visit importing a vehicle into Canada