ACCC takes action against Holden

Nick Bendel

Nick Bendel

( 3 min read )

Australia’s consumer watchdog has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from GM Holden after the company acknowledged it had misled some consumers.

It comes after the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigated Holden following consumer complaints about its response to a manufacturing fault.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Holden acknowledged that it misrepresented to some vehicle owners that it had discretion to decide whether they would be offered a refund, repair or replacement for a car with a manufacturing fault, and that any remedy was a goodwill gesture.

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 because the vehicle was purchased second-hand, according to Mr Sims.

“The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) includes consumer guarantees that provide remedies for major and minor faults in motor vehicles,” he said.

“The consumer guarantees operate separately to the manufacturer’s warranty, and cannot be modified to require consumers to have their vehicles serviced by authorised dealers in order to obtain a remedy.”

Background briefing

A recent review of the ACL recommended that if goods fail to meet the consumer guarantees within a short specified period of time, a consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement without needing to prove a ‘major failure’.

The review also proposed to clarify that multiple non-major failures can amount to a major failure.

The ACCC said it supports both these recommendations, both of which are reflected in the Holden undertaking.

Click here to see a full copy of the undertaking.

Holden’s court-enforceable undertaking

The ACCC said Holden had committed to do these five things:

  • Clarify its internal compliance training program so that multiple minor failures of a vehicle may constitute a major failure
  • Offer buyers of new vehicles a refund or replacement – without the need for them to demonstrate a major failure – if a defect prevents a vehicle from being driveable 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
  • Provide consumers with the ability to obtain information about any issues with their vehicle by contacting Holden and giving their vehicle identification number
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