Saudi Ministry of Commerce provisions for smoother distributor-consumer relationship
In the past years, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce issued the provisions for providing products maintenance, spare parts, and ensuring the quality of manufacturing, with the aim of regulating the relationship between agents/distributors and consumers in the Kingdom.
It comes in line with the provisions of the commercial agencies law and takes into account the rights of all parties, the development of commercial transactions in sales services, and after-sale services.
In preparing these provisions, the ministry took into account the best international legislation and practices, in a manner that addresses the complaints received by the ministry or the issues monitored through the ministry's inspection visits and campaigns.
The ministry took into account the opinions of the public, including consumers, specialists, and executives in the relevant sectors, in addition to several manufacturing companies, after it published the draft of such provisions before it was approved.
The provisions contained 27 articles that clarified the obligations of the agent and distributor toward the consumer in the Kingdom in terms of securing spare parts, providing maintenance, ensuring the quality of manufacture, and the conditions set by producers in sales and after-sales services. Today, we will briefly go through the main features of those provisions.
Regarding the product delivery and disclosure, according to these provisions, agents and distributors must set a specific date for the delivery of the sold goods and clearly disclose in writing any defect or change in such goods, including the repair procedures that were carried out on the goods before delivery.
If the commodity is a vehicle, the agent or distributor must clearly disclose the additional vehicle parts (accessories), their place of manufacture, and installation. This has to be included when they sell the vehicle in a separate document signed by the consumer.
Also, the provisions necessitated a statement of the prices of goods, spare parts, and periodic maintenance costs in sales outlets, service centers, and on relevant websites. In addition to a statement of the shelf life of the commodity, with the obligation to provide spare parts during this period, they must also provide the necessary maintenance services and ensure the quality of manufacture.
Moreover, the provisions also required the agent or distributor to set policies to deal with the consumer to ensure compliance with the provisions of the commercial agencies law, these provisions, and the policies of producers.
Then comes the consumer's right to a substitute good where the provisions gave the consumer the right to obtain an alternative commodity. It happens when the consumer is unable to benefit from the commodity and the agent or distributor fails to provide spare parts, or there are defects in the commodity or a delay in starting or finishing the maintenance on the agreed-upon periods.
Concerning the spare parts, the consumer’s waiting period for spare parts with rare demand has been reduced from 30 days to 14 days, with the continued obligation of agents and distributors to provide parts with continuous demand on a permanent basis.
These provisions have emphasized the consumer’s right to acquire spare parts from a party other than the agent or distributor, under a condition that these parts follow the standard specifications approved in the Kingdom.
As for the maintenance, the provisions obliged the agent or distributor to indicate the periods of completion of periodic and regular maintenance work in advance to the consumer and to abide by them. In addition, a statement of the maintenance work in writing upon its completion is required and a statement of the warranties provided and their periods.
Furthermore, the provisions gave the consumer the right during the warranty period to maintain his commodity in the independent maintenance centers, provided that the commodity is subject to the necessary maintenance under the recommendations of the producer or manufacturer.
Also, these provisions established the minimum product warranty for two years, which can be extended when the agent or distributor does not deal with the defect of the commodity professionally and satisfactorily.
But what if the defects are constantly repeated? The provisions granted the consumer the right to obtain an alternative commodity or the value of it in the event of a repeating defect. It also applies when having more than one defect in the commodity, in a way that would affect the total or extreme benefit of the commodity, or even affect its value or the safety of its use, especially if the agent or distributor has exhausted all attempts to repair.
• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant.