The Full Federal Court today dismissed an ACCC appeal against a Federal Court judgment that Mazda did not engage in unconscionable conduct in its dealings with nine consumers.
The Full Federal Court also dismissed Mazda’s appeal against a Federal Court judgment that Mazda made 49 false representations to consumers about their consumer rights.
This case was about Mazda’s dealings with nine consumers who had requested a refund or replacement vehicle from Mazda after experiencing recurring and serious faults with their new Mazda vehicles within a year or two of purchase. One vehicle had three engine replacements.
The ACCC alleged that Mazda pressured the consumers after repeated failed repairs to accept offers that were below what they were entitled to. For example, Mazda offered to refund only a fraction of the car’s purchase price, or offered a replacement car only at a significant cost to the consumer.
The Full Court dismissed the ACCC’s appeal from the trial judge’s finding that Mazda’s dealings with the consumers was not unconscionable.
“We appealed this case because we believe that it is not acceptable business practice for businesses to give consumers the “run around” and discourage consumers from pursuing their rights for a refund or replacement vehicle,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
The ACCC will carefully consider the Full Court’s judgment.
The case will now be referred back to the trial judge, for a hearing at a later date on the penalties and other orders sought by the ACCC in relation to the false representations made by Mazda.
The ACCC instituted proceedings against Mazda in October 2019. The Federal Court handed down its decision on 30 November 2021. The ACCC filed a Notice of Appeal against the Federal Court’s decision on 14 April 2022.
This case concerns seven vehicles and nine individual consumers. Models include Mazda 2, Mazda 6, Mazda CX-5, Mazda CX-5B, Mazda CX-3 and Mazda BT-50 purchased between 2013 and 2017.
Consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law provide remedies for consumers if their product is not of acceptable quality. Consumers can choose to have a product replaced, repaired or refunded if there is a major failure. There is a major failure if a product is not fit for purpose, cannot be fixed within a reasonable time, or is unsafe.
Since December 2020, multiple minor failures may together amount to a major failure.
The ACCC has previously accepted court-enforceable undertakings from Volkswagen, Holden, Hyundai and Toyota to improve their Australian Consumer Law compliance. In April 2018 the Federal Court found by consent that Ford engaged in unconscionable conduct in the way it dealt with complaints and ordered them to pay $10 million in penalties.
Further information on consumer guarantees is available at Consumer guarantees.
The ACCC encourages consumers to use the complaint letter tool to email or write to a business in relation to their rights to a repair, replacement or refund.