What’s in a name?

20 June 2024 Right to Repair South Africa
Gunther Schmitz

Gunther Schmitz

Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott

Replacing parts can be a costly issue, but since the implementation of the Competition Commission’s new Guidelines in July 2021, the consumer is finally allowed to shop around and use “non-original” spare parts which generally come with a more competitive price tag.

“But,” says Gunther Schmitz, Director and Chairman at Right to Repair South Africa, “It is hard for the consumer to know which parts to choose because of all the confusing terminology used for the various options available - Genuine parts, original parts, aftermarket parts... It's all just a play with words. What you want is a good warranty from a reliable brand,” he says.

Schmidt says this confusion makes it difficult for consumers to make informed decisions, resulting in the automatic choice to rather err on the safe side and purchase a part with the same name brand as their vehicle, in the misinformed belief that it is the safer choice.

Kate Elliott, CEO of Right to Repair SA says the play on words is often a deliberate attempt by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to confuse the issue. “It is slightly nonsensical that OEMs do not make their own parts and yet they go on and on about using genuine or original parts.”

The Collins Dictionary defines genuine as “people and things that are exactly what they appear to be and are not false or an imitation”. The term original is used when referring to something that existed at the beginning of a process or activity, or the characteristics that something had when it began or was made.

“Neither of these definitions excludes parts manufactures’ brand names as being original or genuine and while we totally agree that sub-standard or illegal parts should be avoided, there are many excellent, safe options that do not carry the OEM brand,” she says.

Right to Repair believe it is high time to normalise making use of alternative reputable brands outside of the vehicle manufacturers pool of brands. “Paying for a vehicle manufacturer's logo only benefits the profit margin of the brand in question, it certainly does not make the part more reliable than its alternatively branded twin,” concludes Schmidt.

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