Wheels (Australia) - - Head To Head -

PRO­TECT­ING the rights of car buy­ers has be­come a high pri­or­ity for the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion and its chair­man Rod Sims.

That’s good news for us pun­ters, but what’s push­ing ACCC down this path? More than 10,000 com­plaints about car man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers in 2016-17.

“We think con­sumers are get­ting a pretty bad deal with new cars. They’re not get­ting their con­sumer guar­an­tees which means they don’t get all their rights in terms of re­place­ments or re­funds,” Sims told the ABC.

“There’s a whole lot of his­tor­i­cal be­hav­iour that needs to change con­sid­er­ably. I think we’ve got to drag the new-car in­dus­try into the cur­rent cen­tury.

“They’ve got to un­der­stand that con­sumers do have guar­an­tee rights.” In re­cent times the ACCC has taken ac­tion against Volk­swa­gen and Audi over diesel gate, as well as Ford over the Pow­er­shift trans­mis­sion is­sue.

It has also gained a court en­force­able un­der­tak­ing from Holden to com­ply with con­sumer guar­an­tee obli­ga­tions and a sim­i­lar un­der­tak­ing from Hyundai, which has even agreed to pub­lish on its web­site data re­lat­ing to is­sues or faults with its dif­fer­ent mod­els.

The ACCC has also pushed brands to work harder on the Takata airbag re­call and wrapped up an 18-month in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the auto re­tail in­dus­try, in which it called for a more re­al­is­tic real-world fu­el­con­sump­tion test­ing regime and ac­cess for in­de­pen­dent re­pair­ers to orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­turer (OEM) ser­vice in­for­ma­tion.

Vet­eran in­dus­try ob­server John Mel­lor, now Pub­lisher of Goau­to­me­dia, is in no doubt about the im­pact of the ACCC’S new-found mil­i­tancy.

“These moves in the car in­dus­try are un­prece­dented and are cer­tain to change the shape of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween car buy­ers and the re­tail in­dus­try,” says Mel­lor.

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