The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken action against another car company, with Holden the latest in the regulator’s crosshairs.
Holden has accepted the findings of an ACCC investigation into the company's dealings with unhappy customers, this week committing to "court enforceable" custom guarantee obligations.
Taking on a similar theme to action announced last week against Ford Motor Company of Australia, the ACCC says Holden had treated customers unfairly under its obligations to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said that despite being bound to the ACL, Holden misrepresented its right to deny some defective vehicle claims.
“Holden acknowledged that it misrepresented to some consumers that it had discretion to decide whether the vehicle owner would be offered a refund, repair or replacement for a car with a manufacturing fault, and that any remedy was a goodwill gesture,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Holden also accepted that some consumers were told that a remedy would not be provided because the vehicle had not been serviced by a Holden dealer or with sufficient regularity, or as the vehicle was purchased second hand.”
“Holden has offered an undertaking that goes beyond ensuring compliance with the current consumer guarantee obligations and commits to measures in line with recommended changes to the law. These are great commitments that will have a significant and positive impact for consumers,” Mr Sims said.
According to Holden's executive director of customer experience, Peter Jamieson, the brand has been working closely with the ACCC for some time to develop a set of protocols and procedures that go above and beyond the ACL to ensure all customer needs are met.
As a result, the ACCC accepted a court enforceable undertaking by Holden to implement the following five policies, which go above and beyond Holden's ACL obligations:
- Clarify its internal compliance training program so that multiple minor failures of a vehicle may constitute a major failure
- For new vehicles, Holden has also committed to offering consumers a refund or replacement without the need for them to demonstrate a major failure, if a defect prevents a vehicle from being drivable within 60 days of the date of purchase
- Engage an external reviewer to consider complaints since 1 January 2016, and provide a remedy to consumers where appropriate
- Amend its dealer policies and procedures to ensure they comply with the ACL in relation to consumer guarantees, and
- Provide consumers with the ability to obtain information about any issues with their vehicle by contacting Holden and giving their vehicle identification number.
“We have been very proactive - this is all about Holden leading from the front and doing what Australians expect of us. Australians have always trusted Holden and our products. We have worked with the ACCC and created these policies to improve how we look after customers," Jamieson said.
Holden's examination of ACL coverage will now also include customers that service their vehicles outside of the dealer network.
"We want to make sure that we’re there to look after them. Provided they service the vehicle with an accredited dealer or a mechanic with appropriate skills, we don’t want to deny them the right to be able to have their vehicle fixed at that location," Jamieson said.
"We want to make it clear that we want to look after customers regardless of the issues they have. In all of this there is a bit of an acknowledgement that we can do better. We have voluntarily signed up to this undertaking to demonstrate that we are absolutely committed to customers at the centre of everything we do."
EXTERNAL: ACCC – Consumer rights & guarantees
Listen to the CarAdvice team talk to Holden's Executive Director of Customer Experience, Peter Jamieson, below, and catch more like this at caradvice.com/podcast.