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First Virtual AGM

Our first virtual AGM (hosted on Teams) was held in October, with five regions participating. Cape Town’s meeting took place on 6 October; KwaZulu-Natal on 7 October; the Eastern Cape and Border region on 8 October; the Free State and Northern Cape on 13 October; and the Highveld and Northern Regions on 14 October.

With a number of members still adapting to online meeting technologies, we weren’t surprised that participant numbers were lower than usual. That said, those who attended agreed that this may well prove the most viable option until the world is more settled and we are once more able to meet in person. In fact, several mentioned that they felt it to be an improvement because it saved time and money.

In the meantime, we are grateful that such technologies have made it possible for us to keep in touch during the pandemic. We thank all of our members who did connect remotely and who took the time to interact and connect.

Introducing e-CAR

Behind every great movement is a great organisation lending its support. This is certainly true of the Right to Repair campaign, which has been assisted tremendously by the key industry players who comprise our Tier 1 sponsors. This month, we introduce another one of our Tier 1 sponsors, e-CAR.

The e-CAR mission is to provide the independent workshop with a substantial corporate identity, marketing, and business management concept, in order to grow existing businesses and provide a competitive advantage in becoming the motoring public’s first choice nationwide service centre. 

e-CAR, founded in 2004, is a growing workshop network across the width and breadth of South Africa as well as Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland. 

One of the major contributors to the success of e-CAR is the brand’s partnership with the Diesel-Electric Organization and preferred suppliers such as ATE, Bosch, Continental, Delphi Technologies, Elf, GUD, KYB, NGK, SACHS; as well as being fully compliant with the high standards required for RMI/MIWA and AAQA/AASA accreditations. 

The e-CAR network is proud to be associated with the Right to Repair as motorists can rely on aftermarket automotive service providers they can trust. e-CAR workshops fit only top quality parts which are supported by the Diesel-Electric Organization and preferred suppliers which are well-established entities in the motor industry. e-CAR workshop outlets provide complete diagnostic test solutions using professionally trained technicians and the latest Bosch diagnostic equipment. There is integrity in all transactions, including the added assurance of a national warranty and a free roadside assistance programme to provide peace of mind for motorists. 

Right to Repair is an important innovation for all South Africans, from small to medium businesses to the general motorist.

Consumer education: Understanding invoices

Given the general consumer’s lack of knowledge around mechanical matters, it’s only natural that some feel the need to query their service invoices. MIWA’s Dewald Ranft points out that this is especially the case now that the pandemic has placed pressure on our pockets – which is why it’s important for MIWA to help consumers understand the elements included in an invoice, and ensure they see the value they are gaining from handing their vehicle over to a MIWA workshop.

Ranft says that it’s worth bringing to the consumer’s attention the difference between a general consumables charge and other charges, which may be listed individually. ‘General consumables’ is an umbrella term encompassing items that are needed to complete any repair job and which are typically bought in bulk, such as rags, grease, cable ties, and silicone sprays. These items are grouped together because there are so many of them that to list them individually would make for a very long invoice indeed.

In contrast, items that have been used for your specific service – such as filters, brake pads, wiper blades, and oil – will be listed individually so that consumers understand exactly what they are paying for. 

Added to this, consumers should find a line item specifying the cost of labour as well and repair work. They may have been alerted about these costs upfront, as they are usually predetermined.

Consumers watching their budgets should be aware that they are able to request a quote from their mechanic; however, they also need to know that this amount may change if the mechanic uncovers additional problems. That said, a good mechanic will always request approval for additional costs before undertaking the work. 

Ranft pointed out that this is one of the advantages of working with a MIWA accredited workshop, as consumers can be sure they have selected a qualified workshop which will provide all relevant information. More than this, they have recourse to MIWA should they have any queries or complaints.

No warranty? No problem!

The cost of car repairs is enough to make any consumer anxious. This is a reality facing more and more motorists as car owners opt to hold on to their cars for longer, rather than shelling out on a new one. But while this is a wise decision, it may feel otherwise when the motor warranty runs out, leaving the motorist to foot the bill for car parts and labour. 

Many faced with this prospect decide to replace their car instead – but Dewalt Ranft, Chairman of MIWA, points out that this doesn’t have to be a fall-back position. There are still many options open, from extending the manufacturer guarantee to purchasing new maintenance or insurance – although motorists need to be aware that if they follow this route, they should find out how their car’s age, model, mileage, service, and maintenance history impacts their policy in terms of limitations. They should also be aware that warranties don’t cover consumable items, computer-related problems, internal and external aesthetic and body due to wear and tear, glass, tyres, wheels, wheel alignment, accessories, electrical wiring, brakes, and brake pads, wipers, batteries, or fan belts. Nor are repairs after accidents and environmental damage covered.

Owners of older cars, especially, should be ready to do some research: it’s wise to find a warranty that covers unexpected repairs or, alternatively, to buy a service plan that at least covers general regular maintenance. 

If even these options seem to fall short, consumers should know that before purchasing a new car, they should compare the cost to that of fixing their existing vehicle. Even then, it’s a good idea to obtain quotes from two different workshops. Ultimately, from a financial perspective, it may still make more sense to repair a car than buy a new one.

Avoid the year-end slump

With just two months left of an extremely difficult year, it’s safe to say we’re all looking forward to December and the promise of a little time off. The thing is, those two months can feel like a century. If you’re feeling as though you’ve run out of energy and simply can’t find the motivation to keep going, you may find the following tips useful:

Photo: Danielle MacInnes, Unsplash

Don’t put things off. Tempting though it is to give in to your slump and put off tasks until tomorrow, you’ll regret your ever-lengthening to-do list. You’ll also find that completing a task gives you a burst of satisfaction that carries you through to the next deadline – so, make your day more manageable by prioritising your tasks and planning the day ahead, creating time slots for each task. If you have a definite but flexible schedule, you may feel more inspired to keep moving.

Photo: Brooke Lark, Unsplash

Take care of yourself. This is a mantra you’ve heard many times before, but there’s a reason it’s so clichéd. If you’re tired or not fueling your body correctly, you’re bound to feel lethargic and lack energy. Simply getting eight hours of sleep, eating a balanced diet, and staying hydrated during our hot summer should help.

Photo: Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash

Clear away clutter. If ‘stuff’ has accumulated in your workspace during the year, it can have a negative effect on your attitude. Tidying your desk can be a symbolic action that gives you room to think clearly and feel refreshed.

Photo: RawPixel

Take time out. Your lack of ‘get up and go’ is entirely understandable. If you’re simply not able to push on, don’t. You may feel more enthusiastic about tackling tomorrow if you’ve had a break.

RBSA and RMI – a rewarding partnership

Robert Bosch South Africa (RBSA) has recently seen nine apprentices graduate from a programme for millwrights, fitters and turners.

This initiative is one of several Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) workplace approval programmes, including apprenticeships, learnerships, experimental training, graduate specialist programmes and the YES programme. Other skills which form a major focus for these programmes include mechatronics vocational training, recognised as a scarce skill in South Africa, with two apprentices in this area having received placement.  

Thabang Mokoale qualified through the Bosch apprentice programme, which was absorbed by Mosebe Training Centre.

The recently qualified apprentices are part of a group of 17, the remainder of whom are currently completing their trade tests.

RMI’s training director Louis van Huyssteen applauds RBSA’s efforts in the area of training, noting that RMI greatly values its relationship with RBSA and appreciates both its professionalism and dedication to development training initiatives. 

Richard Ntloedibe is a millwright apprentice to be trade tested in November.

According to RBSA’s Christine Phoko, the secret behind the effectiveness of the organisation’s initiatives lies in its observations around scarce skills in South Africa and subsequent attempts to address these. Christine explains that RBSA works with the Department of Labour to source potential candidates, while newly appointed apprentices undergo a full induction programme that encompasses health and safety and plant management. Added to this, RBSA boasts a diverse and active skills development committee, which consults human resources training and development to ensure training is of a high caliber.

Maboko Manthata is a millwright apprentice currently under preparations with the trainer, Thabang Mokoale to be trade tested in October.

Director’s Desk, October 2020

If there’s an overarching theme for this month’s newsletter, it’s education. We start off with a look at the recent AGM – an event which is, of course, dedicated to educating members about where we are and where we’re heading – and move on to look at the exciting training initiatives undertaken by RBSA to provide South Africa with scarce skills. We also recap some of the important consumer education campaigns undertaken this month, helping them understand service invoices and options for financing car repairs when their service warranties have expired.

As this challenging year winds to an end, we would like to say thank you all for keeping on, even when it felt almost impossible to do so.

Hang on – we’re almost there!

Pieter Niemand, MIWA National Director