The Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) has warned that widespread confusion over the ‘fair wear and tear’ of fork lift trucks is putting companies renting fork lift trucks at risk of large and unexpected end-of-contract repair bills and acrimonious disputes.
The announcement coincides with the reissue of the Fork Lift Truck Association’s illustrated Fair Wear and Tear guide, which has been developed specifically for fork lift trucks.
Association Chief Executive Peter Harvey explains: “Expectations when hiring and leasing cars are very well understood. From restoring damaged body work to refuelling the tank, drivers are fully aware of the costs they are likely to incur at the end of the term. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case at the end of a fork lift truck contract, leading to widespread confusion and not a little acrimony.”
FLTA guidance on the subject makes it clear that customers are financially responsible for any repairs outside of normal ‘wear and tear’ – on top of their contract hire fees. In addition, truck users should be aware that when a fork lift truck is damaged, it can cost much more to fix than might be expected.
Peter continues: “A truck may be on hire as long as five years and during this time predictable deterioration, known as ‘wear and tear’, will naturally occur. Importantly, this term refers to a truck being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. It should not – under any circumstances – be confused with damage, which is caused by misuse or abuse.”
The cost of the problem
Because of its design, damage to a fork lift truck often results in commensurate damage to other, often more expensive, components.
Peter explains: “A truck’s exterior, for example, normally protects its hydraulic and electronic systems, so when this protection is compromised, these more valuable items are at risk. Equally, safety-related structures, such as an overhead guard, often cannot legally be repaired. Replacement prices vary between models, but could well cost several thousand pounds.
“Seats are among the most frequently abused items. While genuine wear is accepted at the end of a contract, holes and rips are not. They are chargeable damage and fitting a replacement will cost several hundred pounds.
“Costs can quickly mount up – even when repairing or fitting less expensive options. Fork lift truck hire companies are businesses, so their charges must reflect overheads – including valuable service engineer time.
Avoiding the problem
To help clear up the confusion, the FLTA has produced an unbiased 32-page illustrated guide which defines the term ‘fair wear and tear’ in relation to the hire of fork lift trucks. This is exclusively available through FLTA Member companies. Full details of Member companies are available from the FLTA website at www.fork-truck.org.uk.