By KESINEE TANGKHIEO
As many as 308 Ford car owners have demanded more than Bt24 million in compensation from the firm over DPS6 gearbox problems.
“After purchasing a Ford car at Bt700,000, I have experienced chronic gearbox issues. Each time I send my car to a service centre, my car has to be kept there for seven days to one month,” Ekachai Kaewsap, one of the plaintiffs, said about his ordeal yesterday.
He was speaking after the Civil Court of South Bangkok accepted the class-action lawsuit and scheduled not just hearings but also the verdict date in the case.
Plaintiff witnesses have been told to testify in court on August 1. Defence witnesses, meanwhile, will speak in court on August 30 and 31.
The court plans to deliver its verdict at 10am on September 28.
“This is a historic case. It’s a class-action lawsuit that comprises hundreds of victims,” Jinna Yam-uam said, as the head of the plaintiffs’ legal team. “It’s a milestone in Thailand’s consumer-protection efforts.”
According to him, Ford Australia had recently been fined nearly Bt300 million for “unconscionable conduct” for failing to fix dodgy transmissions of 10,500 cars made between 2011 and 2015.
Chanita Sukkwan, a plaintiff in Thailand’s class-action lawsuit against Ford, said she hoped the case would set a precedent.
“Consumers should stand up and fight against enterprises that have been taking advantage of them. Do not bow down,” she said.
She believed the Office of the Consumer Protection Board did not do enough to protect consumers.
“We will rally further to have an independent agency for consumer protection established,” Chanita said.
According to her, several victims of the faulty Ford gearbox withdrew their complaints as they could not bear the adverse impacts during the fight for justice.
“They have to pay for repair charges every now and then. So, some have decided to sell their car instead,” Chanita said.
Last year, 421 Ford-car owners came forward and took their case to the court. However, during the past year more than 100 have withdrawn their complaints.
The withdrawals are also due to negotiations with Ford-related firms.
Through negotiations, the number of defendants in the case has reduced from four to just one.