Canadian Version of "Lemon Law" [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

: Canadian Version of "Lemon Law"

08-29-2002, 10:38 AM
Didn't know such an organization existed in Canada. Good to know.

08-29-2002, 11:38 AM
Never heard of it, but great to know. I'll copy the text here for future reference:

Having a problem with your new car?
CAMVAP arbitrates owner and manufacturer disputes
By Bob English
Thursday, August 29, 2001

Last year manufacturers in Canada bought $1.5 million worth of vehicles back from their unhappy owners under a program called the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan or CAMVAP.

CAMVAP, which was created in 1994, is an arbitration program designed to help vehicle owners resolve disputes with the manufacturer of their vehicle. The plan's recently released 2001 report shows it dealt with 715 cases Canada-wide, 12 per cent of which were conciliated between manufacturer and consumer without going to the hearing stage. In 78 per cent of the cases, agreement could not be reached and they went to the arbitration process. The final 10 per cent were settled during the arbitration hearing itself. When the numbers were tabulated it revealed that 63 per cent of decisions favoured the consumer.

What this means is that CAMVAP arbitrators ordered companies to buy back 88 vehicles worth about $1.5 million or an average of $17,107.95. Car companies also forked over $58,855 in reimbursements to consumers for repairs they had previously paid for and $3,917 in out-of-pocket expenses. Repairs to vehicles were ordered in 151 cases. With some four million vehicles eligible under the plan at any given time, the fact that only 715 cases were dealt with in 2001 actually shows just how good vehicles have become, says CAMVAP General Manager Stephen Moody. Arbitration was employed in cases dealing with less than 1/100ths of one percent of the eligible vehicles, he points out. Even enquiries amounted to only 2/100ths of one per cent of eligible vehicles. CAMVAP traces its history back to 1986 when it was essentially imposed on manufacturers selling vehicles in Ontario as a way to get consumer issues out of the court system at a time when so-called Lemon Laws were being seriously discussed.

By the early 1990s the process was working so well in Ontario, according to CAMVAP's Moody, that the manufacturers pursued governments across Canada to make it a national program. "They just felt it was a better way to do business," he says. Quebec finally became involved early in 2001, making it a fully national program.

Lemon Laws to protect the consumer are in place in many U.S. jurisdictions, but due at least in part to the success of CAMVAP, haven't been enacted here. "When you look at the various Lemon Laws in the U.S. and how they are handled and what's eligible - some only offer protection up to 58,000 km versus CAMVAP's 160,000 km or for two years compared to CAMVAP's five model years, plus other eligibility criteria. The program is very attractive compared to many of them," says Moody.

What actually is CAMVAP? First, CAMVAP is an arbitration process, which means you agree to abide by the decision of the arbitrator. You can take your claim to court or to CAMVAP, not both. If you've been to court you can't then go to CAMVAP and if you've tried the CAMVAP route and are still not happy with the outcome you can't then take the case to court.

The CAMVAP arbitrator can: order repairs to your vehicle; order the maker to buy it back; order reimbursement for repairs already made; order reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses up to $500 and reimbursement of up to $100 for witness costs. Or the arbitrator can rule that there is no liability on the part of the manufacturer. In some cases the manufacturer and consumer may settle their differences before the hearing.

Eligible vehicles include passenger cars, light trucks, vans, sport-utility vehicles or multi-purpose passenger vehicles weighing no more than 4,536 kg, which have travelled less than 160,000 km and are from the current model year or the previous four model years. The consumer must feel the vehicle has a manufacturing defect or that the manufacturer is not honouring the new vehicle warranty. CAMVAP lists its advantages as fair, fast, friendly, final and free. So how does it stack up?

How consumers rank the program tends to parallel how successful they were in getting the results they wanted, says CAMVAP's Moody. "Those who found us excellent generally got most of what they wanted. Those who found us poor simply did not get what they expected. But generally our acceptance level is high overall, and something we pay close attention to."

The response from manufacturers is much the same. Moody says they're generally happy with how the program is operated overall, but on a case-by-case basis when they lose, they're not so pleased.

About 20 per cent of referrals to CAMVAP come through friends or acquaintances, but CAMVAP is far from a secret. In fact, information on the plan can be found in your owner's manual. "Chances are most people won't have opened that up to find us there though," says Moody. "Our communication goal has been to make sure that we're everywhere a person would likely go as a consumer when they've got a problem and throw up their hands and feel somebody's got to help them. This means government agencies, the Better Business Bureau, consumers associations and the like. If people had contacted any of these places they would have found out about us," says Moody.

If you think you're smelling lemons rather than roses when you look at your vehicle and that you're not getting a fair shake from your car company, give CAMVAP a call at 1-800-207-0685 or visit its Web site at

08-31-2002, 01:56 AM
Note that BMW Canada does not appear in the list of participating manufacturers...

09-15-2007, 02:49 PM
bmw canada is NOT part of this!!!!!!!

Alex Baumann
09-15-2007, 02:51 PM
5 years is a long time, a lot of things might have changed by now.....

09-15-2007, 08:13 PM
It's not really the same as the US Lemon laws. CAMVAP is basically an alternative dispute resolution service. A sort of private industry mediation/arbitration forum.

Various state lemon laws are comparatively waaaaay simpler.

Just like other Canadian measures (e.g., securities regulation by the OSC), it's just smoke and mirrors so the industry can feign cooperation with disgruntled consumers.

09-18-2007, 09:17 PM
In a previous life, I was a wholesale rep for one of the "Big Three". CAMVAP was actually very consumer oriented, not smoke and mirrors....

An independent appointed arbitrator (IIRC the gent that heard the one case I represented at was a local lawyer) hears both sides of a story and then makes a binding decision...

Having been in retail for some time now, I think they are still a going entity - a look at the warranty books of any participating manufacturer (and a poster above is correct - BMW Canada is not part of the program) will tell you if the program still exists.