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post #996 of (permalink) Old 17th May 2010
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Re: BBC Watchdog report :: Faulty Renault Clio bonnet catches

A copy of my letter to the Director of Operations at VOSA... I just like ripping their replies to shreds...especially when he admitted that the incident was a "threat to safety"... Hmmm... and it's not a safety defect?

"Dear Mr Fiddes,

Thank you for your letter dated and received on 30th April.

The more I read into your responses, all I can simply see is a need for VOSA to keep trying to justify the debacle of a reported safety investigation.

You keep stating the principles that:
• the issue was deemed a defect, but not classed as a safety-defect,
• remedial action was deemed necessary,
• (after external pressures) you had “requested” the manufacturer to act more responsibly (i.e. publish appropriate notifications to the vehicle owners), and
• the mechanism required maintenance (servicing and checked during MOT checks)
and this is the conclusion of your investigation.

I concur that this is a defect, but there a few things you need to consider. Can I please advise the principles that a defect which exists in a safety mechanism – which experiences a flaw (risk), should be deemed as a defect in the safety function; thus a “safety defect”. Similarly, anything which indicates a “threat to safety” is a safety defect, period. This is in-line with your own Code of Practice definition.

If you want to bring in the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, the mechanism is “not fit for purpose”, it is “not safe” (I would actually use the words, “dangerous” (it endangers lives)), it creates a “serious risk” and that the appropriate remedial actions should have been delivered as part of the formal safety “recall” process (recall notice to recall a dangerous product).

You have simply failed in all counts – so please can you do the right thing and simply accept that VOSA has not dealt with this more honourably and accept you could have done better. You should have dealt this as a safety defect, you should have enforced a recall (you have the powers to do so under UK Consumer Law), you could have enforced more improvements, i.e. a change in the design.

We can probably reference the Sales of Goods Act 1979 or Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994, I was sold something that is defective, i.e. the flaw existed when the product was sold to me originally. And that during servicing, due to the inability to service this safety mechanism (as it wasn’t deemed necessary), created an unjust risk the performance and quality of the catch mechanism on the Renault Clio Mark-2’s. The mechanism was not safe at the time of my incident.

You must accept that a mechanism which is designed to be “maintenance-free” should not fail in the way this independent 2-catch mechanism has. There is no justification for any change in the maintenance process, without accepting that the design specification has changed. It’s a shoddy design, shoddy construction, shoddy quality and more important has experience shoddy performance.

The “maintenance-free” concept is part of the mechanism or functional design specification. It may be a major quality defect if it does not provide acceptable tolerance under this very specification. Therefore it IS a safety defect under the Code of Practice. It is the functionality of the mechanism at fault, not the maintenance of the mechanism.

Your inference on maintenance falling outside of this Code of Practice, only applies if maintenance was a requirement in the first instance, which in the case of the Catch mechanism does not apply when the vehicle was delivered to me, and during the previous servicing of my Clio (undertaken by a Renault dealership).

For your reference, I’ve quoted an interesting article from an Engineering website, to help explain this point to you. There are two points to consider by referencing the article:

• Maintenance (guidelines) is part of the product’s design
• A defect exists if it does not have an acceptable maintenance plan.

In the case of the catch mechanism, mechanism-free was defined in the product design, and the mechanism did not require maintenance in the servicing schedule. This is the way the mechanism was designed and manufactured. If this has changed (which you admit it has), the safety-defect exists.

Please can you explain why VOSA does not interpret this from the article and your own Code of Practice?

I believe we have to agree to disagree on one fundamental that your own policies do imply it is defective, and falls under your Code of Practice for Safety Defects.

You cannot complete an impartial investigation without documentation – maybe your mandate is all wrong, especially if you cannot fully investigate this independent from a manufacture.

As change was deemed necessary, Renault should cover all costs for incidents that have occurred, they are ultimately responsible for the design, quality and performance of the mechanism, and its failure is the manufactures responsibility. VOSA should enforce this mandate and ensure all customers’ cases are settled. If VOSA are not responsible, then pass this to your new Transport Safety Minister to enforce it on Renault. "


Aaron Brigatti
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