The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 4086. Warranty and predelivery obligations to new motor vehicle dealers
(a) Each new motor vehicle manufacturer shall specify in writing to each of its new motor vehicle dealers licensed in this State the dealer's obligations for predelivery preparation and warranty service on its products, shall compensate the new motor vehicle dealer for such service required of the dealer by the manufacturer, and shall provide the dealer the schedule of compensation to be paid the dealer for parts, work, and service in connection therewith, and the time allowance for the performance of the work and service.
(b) A schedule of compensation shall not fail to include reasonable compensation for diagnostic work as well as for repair service and labor. Time allowances for the diagnosis and performance of predelivery and warranty service shall be reasonable and adequate for the work to be performed. The hourly rate paid to a new motor vehicle dealer shall not be less than the rate charged by the dealer to customers for nonwarranty service and repairs. Each manufacturer shall compensate each of its dealers for parts used to fulfill warranty, predelivery, and recall obligations of repair and servicing at amounts not less than the retail amounts customarily charged by the dealer to its retail customers for like parts for nonwarranty work. The amounts established by a dealer to its retail customers for labor and like parts for nonwarranty work are deemed to be fair and reasonable compensation; provided, however, a manufacturer may rebut such a presumption by showing that such amount so established is unfair and unreasonable in light of the practices of at least four other franchised motor vehicle dealers in the vicinity offering the same line-make or a similar competitive line-make. A manufacturer may not otherwise recover all or any portion of its costs for compensating its motor vehicle dealers licensed in this State for warranty parts and service either by reduction in the amount due to the dealer or by separate charge, surcharge, or other imposition.
(c) For purposes of this section, the "retail amounts customarily charged" by the franchisee for parts may be established by submitting to the manufacturer 100 sequential nonwarranty customer-paid service repair orders or 60 days of nonwarranty customer-paid service repair orders, whichever is less in terms of total cost, covering repairs made no more than 180 days before the submission and declaring the average percentage markup. The average percentage markup so declared is the retail amount, which goes into effect 30 days following the declaration, subject to audit of the submitted repair orders by the manufacturer and adjustment of the average percentage markup based on that audit. Only retail sales not involving warranty repairs, not involving state inspection, not involving routine maintenance such as changing the oil and oil filter, and not involving accessories may be considered in calculating the average percentage markup. A manufacturer may not require a new motor vehicle dealer to establish the average percentage markup by an unduly burdensome or time-consuming method or by requiring information that is unduly burdensome or time-consuming to provide, including part-by-part or transaction-by-transaction calculations. A new motor vehicle dealer may not change the average percentage markup more than two times in one calendar year. Further, the manufacturer shall reimburse the new motor vehicle dealer for any labor performed at the retail rate customarily charged by that franchisee for the same labor when not performed in satisfaction of a warranty, provided the franchisee's rate for labor not performed in satisfaction of a warranty is routinely posted in a place conspicuous to its service customer.
(d) It is a violation of this section for any new motor vehicle manufacturer to fail to perform any warranty obligations or to fail to include in written notices of factory recalls to new motor vehicle owners and dealers the expected date by which necessary parts and equipment will be available to dealers for the correction of such defects, or to fail to compensate any of the new motor vehicle dealers in this State for repairs effected by a recall.
(e) All claims made by new motor vehicle dealers pursuant to this section for labor and parts shall be paid within 45 days following their approval; provided, however, that the manufacturer retains the right to audit the claims and to charge back the dealer for fraudulent claims for a period of two years following payment. All claims shall be either approved or disapproved within 45 days after their receipt on forms and in the manner specified by the manufacturer, and any claim not specifically disapproved in writing within 45 days after the receipt shall be construed to be approved and payment must follow within 45 days. No claim that has been approved and paid may be charged back to the dealer unless it can be shown that the claim was false or fraudulent, that the repairs were not made properly or were unnecessary to correct the defective condition, or that the dealer failed to reasonably substantiate the claim either in accordance with the manufacturer's reasonable written procedures or by other reasonable means.
(f) A manufacturer shall retain the right to audit warranty claims for a period of one year after the date on which the claim is paid.
(g) A manufacturer shall retain the right to audit all incentive and reimbursement programs and charge back any amounts paid on claims that are false or unsubstantiated for a period of 18 months from the date on which the claim is paid or one year from the end of a program that gave rise to the payment, whichever is later.
(h) Any chargeback resulting from any audit shall not be made until a final order is issued by the Transportation Board if a protest to the proposed chargeback is filed within 30 days of the notification of the final amount claimed by the manufacturer, to be due after exhausting any procedure established by the manufacturer to contest the chargeback, other than arbitration. The manufacturer has the burden of proof in any proceeding filed at the Board under this section.
(i) It is unlawful for a franchisor, manufacturer, factory branch, distributor branch, or subsidiary to own, operate, or control, either directly or indirectly, a motor vehicle warranty or service facility located in the State except:
(1) on an emergency or interim basis;
(2) if no qualified applicant has applied for appointment as a dealer in a market previously served by a new motor vehicle dealer of that manufacturer's line-make; or
(3) if the manufacturer is a non-franchised zero-emission vehicle manufacturer that directly owns, operates, and controls the warranty or service facility. (Added 1981, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 14, 1982; amended 1989, No. 217 (Adj. Sess.); 2009, No. 57, § 1, eff. June 1, 2009; 2021, No. 63, § 3, eff. June 7, 2021.)