Volkswagen will replace vehicles that are un-drivable due to faults present within 60 days of purchase, as part of a new agreement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The new plan, inventively dubbed the 60-day policy, means owners won't need to demonstrate a major fault to score a replacement, provided the car isn't driveable. The guarantee goes beyond existing obligations under Australian Consumer Law (ACL), instead following recommendations of the ACL Review carried out last year.
“We are pleased Volkswagen will offer its new car customers remedies in some cases beyond what the law requires and believe this positive step will be appreciated by new customers,” said Sarah Court, ACCC Commissioner.
The company will also review past complaints and offer refunds, replacements or repairs to customers where their consumer guarantee rights weren't properly carried out.
"Volkswagen Group Australia welcomes the opportunity to co-operate with the ACCC at all stages of this process," the company said in a statement.
"This undertaking reinforces our existing obligations to customers. Volkswagen is the only car brand that publishes information on its website about the performance of each dealer based on the direct feedback of 80,000 customers annually."
Volkswagen isn't the only brand to change its internal policies after an investigation from the ACCC. Holden committed to stronger customer service guarantees after an investigation found Holden had "misrepresented" its right to deny claims, while Ford was slapped with a $10 million fine over its handling of the PowerShift transmission debacle.
Hyundai committed to a voluntary undertaking in February, having worked in "good faith" with the ACCC on its policies.
There's more to the undertaking than just the new 60-day policy. A full list of the things Volkswagen has committed to under its section 87B undertaking is below:
- Engage an independent expert to review relevant consumer complaints received in the 12 months prior to the date of the undertaking;
- Engage an independent expert to review its complaint handling system to ensure that consumer rights are accurately considered, and consumers are provided with written reasons when a remedy they request is not provided;
- Engage an independent expert to review its consumer law compliance program;
- Engage an independent expert to review its dealer training material and the Dealer Warranty Handbook to ensure that they comply with the ACL;
- Update its website to include information about how consumers can make a complaint and how that complaint will be handled and resolved;
- Develop an online tool to enable consumers to search by VIN and obtain information about technical issues with their vehicles and available fixes;
- Email consumers within 30 day of purchasing a vehicle about their consumer guarantee rights;
- Implement a policy whereby a consumer is entitled to a remedy if they experience a defect within 60 days of purchasing their new vehicle that causes it to become immobile and no longer drivable;
- Provide clarity around the start date of the Manufacturer’s Warranty;
- Review its hard copy and online logbooks for representations that may contravene the ACL;
- Undertake a mystery shopping program to monitor compliance with the undertaking;
- Provide annual reports to the board on compliance with the undertaking.