Friday, April 20, 2007

Burned-out BMW, a Weapon for Rights?

The BMW X5 SUV - one of the world's top sports utility vehicles - a name redolent with eminence, passion and the juissance of driving pleasure.

However, one X5 owner recently paraded his beloved car down the street, propelled not by its 260 horsepower engine, but by a block-removal truck.

Residents of Dalian in northeastern Liaoning Province were left puzzled on Wednesday to see, one day prior to International Consumer Rights Day, the burned-out shell of an X5 being dragged through the main streets of their city.

Shenyang-based Business Times reports that this special demonstration was the result of dispute between the car owner and the vendor over the exact cause of the fire.

Mr. Guan, the car owner, said his car self-ignited at that night just 15 minutes after he parked it in his compound. The fire devoured the whole car and damaged neighboring cars, even windows of the lower floors of a nearby building.

According to an investigation report from local fire control department, the car started to burn at about 9:00pm on January 28 this year. Though the report failed to explain the exact reason for the ignition, it was located to the rear of the engine bay.

The boss of Dalian Yanbao Ltd, a BMW sales agent and repairer, said the car was burned almost two months ago, shortly after being transported from the United States.

This fire doesn't coincide with that described by the car owner. In any case, no official sources can prove it.

However Guan says he is a hundred per cent sure of the cause of the fire, since the engine was sealed which means that, besides self-combustion, no reason can properly explain why the fire started.

The company said further investigation will be carried out as soon as technicians from BMW arrive. They also promised the the car will be repaired, or the owner compensated.

But, forced to wait longer than expected, Guan worried that the agent was stalling.

So after one month without settlement, Guan elected to put the burned BMW out on the street as a protest against the sales agency.

He says he undertook this demonstration to make a point about consumer rights.

However, Guan's protest failed to gain support from the local consumers' association. One staff member with the association says they hope consumers will choose more rational ways to cope with such disputes.

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