… EV distributor alleges committee misconstrued EV taxi operators’ claims

Yangyel Lhaden

The Dispute Settlement Committee (DSC) has asked Kuenphen Motors to compensate Nu 30,000 to customers for failing to provide the MG ZS UK version. 

On May 26, 15 MG ZS taxi operators lodged a consumer complaint to the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA) asserting that the MG ZS electric cars failed to fulfill the promised mileage of 419km, as advertised in the catalog provided by Kuenphen Motors. They claimed that they were given MG ZS Sri Lankan version although MG ZS UK version was promoted. 

They requested either a replacement of the MG ZS EV Sri Lankan version with the MG ZS EV UK version or a refund equivalent to the cost of the features and components that are missing in the Sri Lankan version.

After attempts at mediation between the parties failed, the matter went to the DSC on August 1 in accordance with the procedural guidelines outlined in the Consumer Protection Act of 2012 and the Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations 2015. 

Subsequent proceedings took place on August 4 and 9 within the premises of the CCAA. 

During these sessions, complainants raised concerns about unmet advertised mileage and perceived disparities between the UK and Sri Lankan versions of the MG ZS. These discrepancies, they claimed, were not adequately communicated during the pre-order phase.

The DSC conducted physical verification, revealing variances in mileage between the UK version and the Sri Lankan version of the MG ZS electric vehicles. The UK version exhibited a range of 293km in normal mode and 322km in eco-mode, while the Sri Lankan version displayed a range of 308km in normal mode and 323km in eco mode. The catalog of both according to the report shows 419km.

The DSC couldn’t figure out the exact price difference between the UK and Sri Lankan MG ZS electric cars due to the absence of a price difference between the two.  The committee also encountered difficulty in reaching a definite conclusion affecting the vehicle’s mileage. “As a result, the complainants’ claim of misrepresentation lacked substantiated evidence, and the committee couldn’t find it reasonable since the matter might be beyond the dealer’s control”, the investigation report stated.

Distributor clarifies

However, the proprietor of Kuenphen Motors claims that he did not promote MG ZS Sri Lankan and MG ZS UK versions in the first place. 

Thukten, the proprietor of Kuenphen Motors, said that the vehicles were marketed under the names “MG Exclusive” and “MG EXCITE.” 

He said that the CCAA had misconstrued the claims made by taxi operators, inaccurately interpreting vehicle models as indicators of regional variations.

“The Exclusive option has a sunroof and leather seats while the Excite option does not have a sunroof and featured fabric seats,” Thukten said. “There was no different order as Sri Lankan versions or UK version, and the pricing was established based on the terms provided by the principal company.”

The DSC concluded that Kuenphen Motors had violated consumer protection regulations by promoting the UK version but delivering the Sri Lankan version. 

Despite the Sri Lankan version’s failure to match the UK version’s advertised features and an inability to determine the price difference for these omissions, the DSC based compensation on the Principle of Equity and Justice. Accordingly, Kuenphen Motors was directed to compensate aggrieved MG ZS customers with Nu 30,000 each, according to the investigation report.

This penalty is based on violating Section 6 (a) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2012. Calculated following Rule 3 of the Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations 2015 (Revision), the fine reflects eight months of the national minimum wage rate, resulting in a Nu 30,000 penalty per customer, according to the investigation report.

Meanwhile, both parties have 10 working days to file an appeal before the court from the day of order from the dispute settlement committee.