ACCC and FCAI trade words over new report

FCAI calls for a fair discussion on consumer law and related issues in its response to a recent ACCC report.

The peak body for Australia’s motor industry, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, has called for a fair and balanced discussion on consumer law and related issues in its response to a recent draft report into new car retailing produced by the ACCC, that was detailed at the recent Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) Expo.

In a short media release, the FCAI expressed its disappointment in the ACCC’s lack of constructive engagement with the new vehicle distributors and OEMs in the development of the regulator’s draft report.

As part of a presentation at the AADA expo, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims delved into the basis of the ACCC’s New Car Retailing Industry Market Study, with particular focus on the competitiveness of the Australian retail car industry and the rise in consumer complaints about new cars – with manufacturers of new cars appearing in the top 10 most complained traders in 23 of the past 24 months.

Mr Sims went on to highlight the three key observations of the report:

  1. Car manufacturers’ complaints handling systems and policies are often preventing consumers from obtaining the remedies to which they are entitled under Australian Consumer Law.
  2. A mandatory scheme should be introduced for car manufacturers to share technical information with independent repairers
  3. Buyers of new cars need more accurate information new cars’ fuel consumption and emissions

As part of its response, the FCAI has offered its assistance and urged the ACCC to work with the new car industry to better understand the key features of a complex and competitive market.

Tony Weber, the FCAI’s Chief Executive, said “In a competitive marketplace such as ours, brands have to deliver outstanding customer service and support – and are doing so.”

“This competitiveness extends not only to the competition between brands and dealers, but also to the highly competitive servicing and repair sector where specialisation is becoming a real benefit to consumers,” he continued.

“Australia’s new car industry has hundreds of thousands of very happy customers but their voices are unheard. All the industry asks is for a fair and balanced hearing from the regulator but to date, that hasn’t happened,” Mr Weber added.