Commercial Law

Mazda Quezon Avenue vs Alexander Caruncho

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G.R. No. 232688 – Mercantile Law – The Consumer Act – Liability for Imperfections – Liability for Defective Product – Prescription of Action; Warranty Period

In January 2011, Alexander Caruncho bought a Mazda sedan from Mazda Quezon Avenue. During the first week of use, he already noticed an unusual noise under the car’s hood. He immediately brought the issue to the attention of Mazda. A repair was made but the issue persisted. In fact, Mazda replaced the same part (rack and pinion mechanism) five times but the same issue persisted. So, Caruncho kept on returning the vehicle to Mazda for repair and Mazda kept on promising that they will correct the imperfection.

Since the issue was never fixed, Caruncho filed a complaint against Mazda before the Department of Trade and Industry in July 2014.

Mazda moved for the dismissal of the case on the ground that the complaint was filed beyond the two-year prescriptive period provided by Article 169 of the Consumer Act.

ISSUE: Whether or not the complaint should be dismissed.

HELD: No. It is true that Article 169 of the Consumer Act (RA 7394) provides for a two-year prescription period for violations of the law. However, Caruncho cannot be expected to file a complaint within the two-year prescription period fixed by law when Mazda made continuous representations that it would resolve the problem.

In fact, the two-year prescriptive period, in this case, must be counted from the end of the warranty period (January 2014). Caruncho chose to use the remedies available in the warranty instead of resorting to filing a claim. This should not be taken against him. After all, by express provision, the vehicle was still covered by the three-year warranty period. It would be highly unjust and contrary to the law’s policy of protecting the consumer’s interests if this Court allows Mazda to claim protection from suit when its assurances caused the delay in filing the suit.

NOTE: In 2014, the Philippine Lemon Law (R.A. 10642) took effect. This law is now the applicable law governing defective four-wheel motor vehicles.

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