ACCC Major Win for Consumers and Repairers
Tuesday, 27 August 2019
The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) warmly welcomes the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Final Report into The New Car Retailing Industry which was released today.
Following on from the detailed recommendations made in the ACCC’s Draft Report which was released in August, the ACCC’s Final Report recommends a mandatory scheme that will compel all car companies operating in Australia to share the same repair and service information that they currently share with their dealerships, with independent repairers on fair and reasonable commercial terms.
“To say that we are delighted with this outcome would be a major understatement,” AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity stated.
“This is a David and Goliath story. A group of small independent repairers spread throughout the country with limited political skill and very limited resources, took on the might of the multinational car companies. The car industry leveraged their financial, lobbying and marketing power to criticise the skill and credentials of our industry, telling Government that all vehicle repair and service information was being made available but independent repairers didn’t have the skills to use it. The ACCC has refuted those claims and the evidence supports our seven-year Choice of Repairer campaign.”
Mr Charity also believes that time is of the essence to act on the recommendations contained in the ACCC’s Final Report. “The Government has the independent umpire’s verdict which contains clear evidence of anti-competitive behaviour. They now need to act quickly to protect consumer choice and competition in the automotive repair and service industry. There is no reason for any delay as this recommendation has been a long time coming. It has been five years since the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAC) recommended that the Government consider the introduction of a mandatory code for data sharing. Finally, after an exhaustive 18-month review, the ACCC has recommended government intervention in the form of a mandatory scheme, so it is now time to act,” Mr Charity stated.
“Australia’s 17 million car owners and more than 20,000 independent automotive repairers deserve better than the current situation that finds the car manufacturers routinely and deliberately preventing consumers from exercising choice and their consumer legal rights,” He concluded.
The ACCC’s Final Report has also recognised the key role that third-party data aggregators play in supporting all make and model repairers and has included this important sector into their recommended mandatory scheme.
The adoption by government of the ACCC recommendations will provide a level playing field and help to secure the future of over 20,000 Australian independent automotive repairers that consumers trust to service and maintain their cars on a daily basis all over the country.
The real congratulations for achieving this long-awaited recommendation from Australia’s peak competition umpire belong to the AAAA members. These businesses took on the might of the multi-national car industry and provided evidence to the ACCC of instances where vital repair data was being withheld. They also invited local Members of Parliament into their workshops to witness first-hand the impact that lack of data access has on their ability to compete and provide competition and choice for their customers.
Australia’s independent repairers, their staff and their customers all shared in this journey and this achievement belongs to them. The ACCC’s Final Report findings are testament to their tenacity and their commitment to our industry. More importantly, the ACCC’s Final Report findings detail their commitment to their customers - Australian car owners, who have suffered the most as a direct result of the withholding of service and repair information.
The ACCC Final Report also outlines the power imbalance between the car manufacturers and their franchise dealers, supporting further examination into this relationship and its impact on consumer outcomes.
“We also believe that there an argument for ensuring a transparent and fair relationship between the car manufacturers and their dealers. We have always stated that the dealers are the “meat in the sandwich” in much of this debate, with the car companies dictating the dealership business model,” Mr Charity stated.
“We believe that the key to great consumer outcomes is to have both dealers and independent repairers on a level playing field, competing for customers on their merits. The Choice of Repairer campaign has never been about bashing dealerships and if they also need a fairer deal, the AAAA would fully support that,” He added.
The AAAA sincerely thanks its members for their outstanding efforts and dedication to doing the best they possibly can for their customers on the Choice of Repairer campaign journey.
The AAAA also wishes to thank the ACCC for their thorough investigative work into our industry, which now will ultimately achieve the outcome that was always its main goal - to best protect the people who are affected the most by the lack of a mandatory scheme for data sharing in the automotive repair sector, Australia’s 17 million car owners.
The complete ACCC Final Report into New Car Retailing can be viewed here.
The ACCC Independent Repairer summary factsheet can be viewed here.
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