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Watchdog says 'lifetime' Opel guarantee is a lie

DPA/The Local · 17 Aug 2010, 17:00

Published: 17 Aug 2010 17:00 GMT+02:00

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In a development that could turn the offer into a PR disaster for General Motors struggling German division, the watchdog has taken issue with the fact that the guarantee contains a raft of caveats, not least that it runs out after 160,000 kilometres.

The Centre for Protection against Unfair Competition (WBZ), which keeps an eye on companies’ compliance with advertising and marketing laws, has sent the firm a warning notice stating it is making false promises in its advertising.

The WBZ has threatened Opel with legal action if it does not withdraw the campaign within two days and sign a “cease and desist” declaration.

“We are taking issue here with a misleading, attention-grabbing promotion. In contrast to the major announcement, a ‘lifetime’ guarantee from Opel is not actually ensured,” said WBZ board member Rainer Münker.

“A lie in an attention-grabbing statement cannot be ‘explained’ or ‘moderated’ by an explanation with an asterisk,” he said.

Opel promised to consider the warning letter from the watchdog. “The guarantee offer from Opel has achieved an outstanding response from our customers,” a spokesman said.

Opel boss Nick Reilly announced the guarantee earlier this month, saying at the time he wanted to strengthening “trust in our products.”

But the guarantee is limited to 160,000 kilometres. And while labour costs will be covered completely, the cost of parts will be fully covered only for the first 50,000 kilometres. After that, customers pay an increasing share of the replacement parts – 60 percent after the car has been driven 100,000 kilometres.

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Once the car changes hands, the guarantee ends unless the the new owner pays a three figure sum per year.

Opel has struggled ever since the world fell into the financial crisis in 2008. From January through July this year, Opel sold 131,364 vehicles – down 40 percent from the same period last year, when the so-called “cash for clunker” scheme encouraged many people to buy a new car.

Limited predominately to Europe, GM’s Opel/Vauxhall unit has not been able to profit from surging demand for cars in China and North America, making its share of its home market that much more crucial.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

23:39 August 17, 2010 by pepsionice
If you examine the Opel wording....it's not exactly a complete deal. At a certain point....they start to add in the mileage and do percentages. So "lifetime" is kinda comical in a way.

My German mechanic once took to the side and showed me a 2-year old Opel in his shop. By the door, it was exhibiting progress to rust. Then he showed me issues with the design where the engine actually attaches to the frame of the car. I came to be questioning the logic of buying a Opel and nothing has changed over the past decade.
07:39 August 18, 2010 by parografik
If you read even further into the fine print, the guarantees only apply to customers older than 98, or those who agree to have all their vital organs harvested in 36 months.

It's really a win-win for everyone.
11:17 August 18, 2010 by myaccount
parografik, you are evil. Just spat coffee all over my desk....
18:25 August 19, 2010 by puddy
I just placed an order for a Kia Sorento comes with 5 year paint warranty 3 year unlimited miles 12 year rust 3 year audio, year 4 to 7 bumper to bumper max 100k miles warranty. Nothings hidden by * as vauxhall/opel advert.

Plus when you sell the car the new owner gets the warranty unlike vauxhall/opel

The new sportage built that well it will retain 63% of its value when 3 year old
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