The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) welcomes the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Draft Report on the New Car Retailing Industry which was released today.
Among many important recommendations, the ACCC’s Draft Report recommends that a mandatory scheme be introduced to ensure car manufacturers share real time technical information with independent repairers, on commercially fair and reasonable terms. The mandatory scheme would provide independent repairers with access to the same technical information, software and codes which all car companies operating in Australia currently only make available to their authorised dealers and preferred repairer networks.
The ACCC investigation also found that there is a dealer gross profit margin of 64% on vehicle servicing. This margin is important to the dealers and it is protected by car manufacturers ensuring that critical servicing and repair information is continually withheld from independent repairers. The AAAA has advocated for US data sharing laws to be implemented in Australia on behalf of many thousands of independent repairers and Australia’s 17 million car owners.
AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity stated, “This is an interim report and there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure that the ACCC recommendations are implemented. It is however a great sign that after a 12 month investigation, our independent competition watchdog has now verified what we have been saying for over 10 years. Our opponents have argued that consumers have choice, that car manufacturers already share all repair and service information, that the voluntary agreement signed in 2014 is working – yet all of these positions are not supported by the findings of the ACCC Draft Report issued today.
The highly detailed 162 page ACCC Draft Report follows a thorough investigation that has involved many AAAA member independent repairers across Australia. It clearly outlines that while there is competition for the purchase of new cars, consumers have been severely restricted in their choices when it comes to vehicle repair and servicing.
The ACCC Draft Report also detailed the car industry practice of misleading consumers into believing that their new car warranties would become void if their cars were serviced outside the dealer network, along with consumers being forced to sign non-disclosure statements to access remedies relating to known vehicle faults.
The ACCC has also commenced enforcement action against a number of car companies following the discovery of a range of other Australian Consumer Law contraventions that were uncovered as result of this investigation.
“We look forward to working together with the ACCC and the Federal Government to ensure that consumers are fully protected by mandating fair competition for the servicing and repair of their vehicles. Together with more than 2,500 AAAA member companies, we are determined to ensure that these important ACCC recommendations are implemented in full,” Mr Charity added.