Major car companies are selling Australians lemons and leaving them with little recourse, a leading consumer rights advocate has claimed.
On Monday, Choice named and shamed Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Mazda for “failing Australians” when it comes to providing fair refunds on dud vehicles.
Choice announced it had written to the car companies asking them to adopt “fair and clear” 60-day refund policies like those currently offered by Toyota, Holden and Volkswagen.
Australian consumers are currently getting “better treatment with a $40 toaster than a $40k car”, Choice said.
The consumer group is running a petition calling on car companies to “commit to refunds for lemons”, and asked Australians to “get involved and demand better”.
“This promise – to refund someone if their brand new car stops working in 60 days – is a bare minimum acknowledgement of consumer rights,” Choice consumer rights advocate Amy Pereira said.
“The bar is low, but so many of our car companies can’t even get a pass mark here.”
A 2016 report by Choice found that two-thirds of Australians experienced problems with their new cars in the first five years, with 14 per cent reporting major problems.
Choice described the car industry’s response to their concerns as “underwhelming at best”.
Only three companies – Nissan, Kia, and Mitsubishi – responded to their correspondence, and none have agreed to implement a clear 60-day refund policy, Choice said.
“While we give Toyota, Holden and Volkswagen a pass, they had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards a fair and clear policy,” Ms Pereira said.
“As for others, right now you get better treatment with a faulty $40 toaster than a faulty $40k car when it comes to refunds.”
Australians deserve better treatment from car companies when it comes to faulty new vehicles, Choice said.
Car companies need to “meet community expectations and the law by offering refunds when they’ve sold a lemon”, Ms Pereira said.
“Cars are a vital and expensive purchase. We rely on them for work and family and to be given the runaround when things go wrong is unacceptable,” she said.
“If the car companies are smart, they’ll recognise that fair refund practices and honest interactions when something goes wrong is the best way to keep us as customers long term.”