Fiat Chrysler Australia (Chrysler) has provided an administrative undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, following an investigation into consumer guarantee complaints concerning vehicle faults and Chrysler’s handling of those complaints.
Chrysler’s undertaking includes a commitment to establish a consumer redress program, and to review its handling of previous complaints, as well as an Australian Consumer Law (ACL) compliance program which includes a complaints handling system.
Chrysler distributes several vehicle brands in Australia including Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Chrysler.
The ACCC received a number of complaints from Chrysler customers concerning vehicle faults and how their complaints were handled by Chrysler and its dealers. The complaints related to various issues including delays in sourcing spare parts and failing to adequately deal with customer complaints.
Chrysler has acknowledged the ACCC’s concerns and cooperated with the investigation. Chrysler has advised the ACCC that it has taken a number of steps to improve its aftersales care, particularly complaint handling, to address these concerns.
“The consumer guarantees mandate that vehicles will be fit for purpose, free from defects and as durable as a reasonable consumer would expect. Where the guarantee is not complied with, a consumer will have rights against the supplier and in some cases the manufacturer, who will have to provide a remedy,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“This means that all car manufacturers and suppliers, including dealers, need to think beyond the initial sale and invest in their aftersales care."
Chrysler’s administrative undertaking includes a process where particular affected Chrysler customers can agree to have their previous complaints independently reviewed, with Chrysler committing to implement the remedy recommended by the independent reviewer.
The ACCC is pleased that this program will be available for these customers and will monitor its implementation.
“The ACCC is considering concerns about the motor vehicle industry more generally, with a particular focus on ensuring compliance with the consumer guarantee provisions of the consumer law.” Mr Sims said.
Consumer Redress Program
Under the consumer redress program, Chrysler will:
- identify and contact customers who made a complaint to Chrysler about vehicle issues between the period 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2014, and who were refused a particular remedy by Chrysler (other than those customers whose complaints were resolved to their satisfaction or were resolved in a Court or Tribunal);
- offer to have an independent person review their complaint to determine whether the outcome was in accordance with ACL or Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA) consumer rights; and
- where a review is conducted and it is determined that the outcome was not in accordance with ACL or TPA consumer rights, provide or procure that a dealer provide a remedy on Chrysler’s behalf as recommended by the independent reviewer, which is consistent with those rights.
Affected customers who are not contacted by Chrysler within 60 days should contact Chrysler’s Customer Care Assistance Centre on 1300 133 079.
Chrysler will report to the ACCC on the number of reviews undertaken and the outcomes reached.
Consumer guarantees under the ACL
The ACL has introduced a regime of consumer guarantees that applies to products and services bought after 1 January 2011. In relation to motor vehicles, manufacturers and suppliers including dealers, have obligations under these consumer guarantees.
When the problem is minor, the supplier can choose between providing a repair or offering the consumer a replacement or a refund. When there is a major failure, the consumer can reject the vehicle and either choose a refund or a replacement. Consumers can also seek compensation from suppliers or manufacturers. More information is available on the ACCC’s website at: Motor vehicle sales & repairs - an industry guide to the Australian Consumer Law.
For products and services bought before 1 January 2011, consumers may still have rights under previous consumer protection laws in the Trade Practices Act 1974.
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