Service Matters (07) 3353 6939 Unit 6/37 Queens Road, Everton Hills QLD 4053

Your Car, Your Choice : About the Campaign

Modern vehicles have become “computers on wheels”. Though technical innovations provide increased safety, comfort and better emissions control; they have made it increasingly challenging to service or repair a vehicle sildenafil citrate tablets.

Sophisticated electronics now control vehicle behaviour, integrated with active and passive safety systems and emission control systems. Hence the necessity for accurate technical and diagnostic information has become critical.

Trends such as move to diesel vehicles and greater proliferation in the Australian vehicle car park will magnify the issue going forward. This will make access to information vital to the survival of many smaller independent repairers. This is also a major issue in the collision repair industry with information on construction materials and safety systems critical in ensuring that the vehicle is safely repaired.

Due to the absence of an adequate regulatory framework in Australia to protect competition in the vehicle repair and service sector; it is not clear whether vehicle manufacturers and importers/distributors are obliged to make technical and diagnostic information available to repairers outside their authorised dealer networks.

This creates a situation where independent aftermarket repairers that compete directly with dealer service outlets are relying on the goodwill of the manufacturer to obtain critical information to complete the repair. Not surprisingly, many repairers find that access to technical information is difficult or comes at a premium cost.

Without effective access to technical information; multi-brand diagnostic tools and test equipment, replacement parts and training, rapid advances in vehicle technology will mean that the independent aftermarket may be unable to service modern vehicles in the future.

This scenario would have a catastrophic impact on competition in this industry by creating a technological monopoly for the vehicle manufacturers and their dealer networks. Independent repairers which are predominately small businesses would be driven out of business and Australian motorists would lose the right to have their vehicle serviced, maintained and repaired in a timely manner, at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice.

The “Choice of Repairer” initiative and “Your Car, Your Choice” is an information campaign designed to help protect consumer choice and effective competition in the automotive aftermarket.

We are now seeking support from industry and consumer groups with an interest in pushing for a fair and competitive regulatory environment in the sector that protects consumers’ rights. Following this process we will launch a major awareness campaign to ensure that these issues are brought to the attention of consumers, the industry and regulators.

The impact of servicing on vehicle warranties

Another factor impacting on free and fair competition in the automotive aftermarket is the lack of understanding by the consumer on the differences between statutory and express warranties. This is caused by the absence of any disclosure requirements on car dealers when offering these contracts at the point of sale. Despite attempts by the ACCC to outline consumers’ rights under the Trade Practices Act and clarify the differences between statutory and express warranties, significant confusion still exists with automotive parts and accessories manufacturers and distributors, vehicle repairers and the general public in relation to: –

  • where statutory warranties begin and end
  • how to differentiate between statutory and express warranties in documentation provided by the vehicle dealers at the point of sale;
  • exactly what additional benefits to the consumer are included in some express warranties offered.

Much of this confusion has been caused by the increased practice of motor vehicle dealers bundling express or “extended” warranties at the point of sale at no additional cost to the consumer which have restrictive provisions on the choice of repairer and parts used, contain ambiguous language and tie the consumer into a long term service schedule with a specific dealer or group of dealerships.

It is our contention that many of these contracts provide little or no additional benefits over and above the consumer’s basic statutory rights. In addition, the widespread industry practice of using the term “warranty” generically rather than being specific about the type of warranty creates significant consumer confusion. The lack of disclosure requirements on extended warranties at the point of sale forces the consumer to make a decision to potentially enter into a long term contract without all of information required to make an informed decision. It is our fear is that, if left unchecked, this trend could have a significant impact on competition in this sector and force up the price of vehicle ownership in Australia.

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