As Ford's local arm works through its case against court action brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the company says it has identified an error that saw customers charged for roadside assistance it had advertised as free.
The timing may be a cosmic coincidence, or it could be that word of the ACCC's war on poor service has set brands around the country on a wisely proactive course… but the result is a good-news story for some Ford customers who will soon see a few dollars reappear in their accounts.
Ford says that although no complaints have been received, its own internal review processes revealed that from May 2012 to July 2017, customers offered free roadside assistance with their standard scheduled servicing had been charged "up to" $15.95 through "a process error".
Ford's action may indeed end up costing it more than the money it will refund, in time and resources, promising "a dedicated remediation program to address the issue" that will include writing to affected customers to apologise for the error and to explain how it will refund the amounts charged.
“Ford is committed to honouring its promise of free roadside assistance with standard scheduled servicing to affected customers,” said Ambrose Henderson, Ford’s Marketing and Sales Manager for Parts and Service.
“We apologise to customers affected by this error and have launched a remediation program to refund customers the amount they were incorrectly charged.”
Ford says it will also ensure customers who bought a vehicle in the years noted will also be given price adjustments "for future eligible servicing".
However it has come about, we salute Ford for hitting the books in search of any potential drama it could do without. It is not alone, this week, with Holden only yesterday copping to an ACCC investigation that found it had done wrong by customers. In response, Holden has doubled down on its commitment to customer service.
We hope other brands are taking note.