We were recently given another mission by our readers. A few farmers wanted us to investigate and report on what obligations machinery dealers have when it comes to providing repair parts. We set to work looking up the laws that apply to dealers, manufacturers and distributors when it comes to supporting the equipment they sell with follow-up repair parts.
There is actually a long list of legal rules dealers and manufacturers have to abide by when doing business in the three Prairie provinces. There are rules that specify just how long parts must remain available for machines sold in each province and how quickly they must be made available to buyers. But as you might expect, there are some “howevers” and “notwithstandings” to consider that may or may not make those rules applicable to your situation.
What equipment is covered?
In Saskatchewan, the Agricultural Implements Act lays down the law. It applies to any farm machine that meets this description: “…any implement, equipment or machine that is used or intended for use on a farm…” That’s a pretty broad description, but there are some of those “howevers” to consider. The Act lists a couple of specific exclusions, such as motor vehicles (eg, trucks); but in general, it applies most machines you’d find on a farm.
In Alberta, the Farm Implement Regulations apply. And just like the Saskatchewan Act and Manitoba’s Farm Machinery and Equipment Act, the definition of machinery it applies to is pretty all encompassing. It includes “…any implement, equipment, engine, motor, machine, combine, tractor or attachment used or intended for use in farming operations…” But Alberta does exclude any farm machine with a retail price of less than $4,000 along with tractors below 30 horsepower, and a few other things.
The next thing to understand — and, again, this applies to all three provinces — is the duty of dealers and manufacturers to supply parts applies only to those for new machines that were sold in the province. Parts must be continuously available for 10 years after the date of sale for each machine. When that time is up, all bets are off.
Not only that, if you bought a used machine, regardless of how old it is, these rules don’t guarantee you a parts supply at all, only purchasers of new equipment get protection from the Provincial Acts.
What’s the time limit?
How fast dealers need to come up with those replacement parts for purchasers (or lessors) of new equipment depends on the time of year; and yet again, it’s the same for all three provinces. If you bought a new machine within the 10-year period, the dealer has 10 working days to put new parts on the counter from the day you ordered them. But if you’re broken down and can’t use your machine during the season when you need to, you can specify the parts are for an emergency repair. Dealers, then, have just 72 hours to supply them, not counting weekends and statutory holidays.
If there is a delay in supplying parts that is beyond the control of a dealer or manufacturer, such as a labour strike or transportation problem, they can’t be held legally responsible for that. Of course, dealers can add fees above and beyond the regular retail price for that kind of expedited delivery, as long as they specify it on the parts invoice, at least in Saskatchewan.
But if they can’t deliver emergency parts on time, dealers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are obligated to arrange to get you a replacement machine to use at half the normal rental rate until the parts show up, or at least reimburse you the equivalent amount. The Saskatchewan Act describes it this way: “(The dealer or distributor shall) pay to the purchaser an amount equal to one-half of the normal rental rate applicable for the implement from the date of the expiry of the time limit for delivery to the date on which those parts are made available to the purchaser at the dealer’s place of business.”
Manitoba’s Farm Machinery and Equipment Act reads in a similar way.
In a worst-case scenario, a Saskatchewan customer could make a complaint to the provincial board that oversees the Act, who could award a cash settlement from the Agricultural Implements Compensation Fund equal to the amount of financial loss suffered by a farmer due to lack of parts availability. Any settlement made through the Act, however, is limited to $10,000. If there was a larger financial loss involved, a producer would have to initiate a law suit to force greater compensation.
In Alberta anyone who makes a claim for compensation arising from a violation of its Act could be paid a settlement out of that province’s Farm Implement Compensation Fund.
Editor’s note: Do you have a machinery-related question? Maybe we can help. Email me at the address below and we’ll see if we can get to the bottom of it. We’ll print a response in the pages of a future issue.