ACCC RECOMMENDS A MANDATORY VEHICLE DATA SHARING SCHEME

I am very pleased to inform you that earlier today the ACCC released their Draft Report into the New Car Retailing Industry.
The findings and recommendations contained in this report are the result of an exhaustive 12 month investigation by our competition and consumer watchdog.
In the draft report, the ACCC is recommending a new mandatory scheme be introduced that sets out the rules for car manufacturers to share dealer level technical and diagnostic information with independent repairers. The ACCC has concluded that the voluntary agreement for sharing repair and service information is not working, and that a mandatory scheme is needed. This is enormously satisfying – whilst other agreement signatories stated that the voluntary agreement just needed more time, we labelled it a failure and asked for this inquiry – we knew that an objective investigation would reveal that that there had been little change to the availability of repair information and the situation was getting worse not better. The ACCC findings vindicate our 2016 declaration that the voluntary data sharing agreement was a failed experiment.
There are quite a few other encouraging recommendations including a strong commitment to enforcement action when consumers are advised that they will void their new car warranty if they have it serviced by an independent repairer or fit aftermarket parts. There is a great deal to like in the report, but you can read the summary below or click on the links provided at the bottom of this email to read the full report or a two page PDF that the ACCC has published specifically for independent repairers.
Most importantly, the main reason for contacting you today was to say thank you. Our industry should be grateful to every one of you that attended meetings to hear about what is going on, wrote an email, contacted their local MP, phoned in to a radio station, hosted an MP visit or made a complaint/submission to the ACCC.
Our opposition was very strong and very well resourced. They said we were making this up. They said all the information you need to repair cars is out there, that independent repairers weren’t looking hard enough. They accused us of not investing in the tools, equipment or training needed to repair modern cars. They said that we were grandstanding !
All of these arguments have now been dismissed by the ACCC. We may have been facing powerful opponents with very deep pockets. But they didn’t have what we have. A dedicated, smart and determined independent sector, ready to stand up for our industry and our customers. I know that this is what carried us to this point. Determination, persistence and dedication.
We aren’t there yet – this is a draft report and responses to the ACCC’s draft recommendations need to be submitted by 7 September. We will be asking for your support and assistance to keep the momentum going. But that’s a conversation for tomorrow. For today, we should all be proud of what we have achieved against the odds.
This shows what can be achieved when the independent aftermarket works together for our industry and our customers.

Kind Regards,
Stuart Charity
Executive Director
Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association

ACCC is recommending:

A new mandatory scheme be introduced that sets out the rules for car manufacturers to share technical information with independent repairers.

ACCC suggests that this should:
· cover all car manufacturers operating in Australia
· include real time access for independent repairers to the same technical information car manufacturers make available to dealers
· provide a process for independent repairers to access security-related technical information that car manufacturers should develop publicly available policies which clearly outline any parts subject to restricted access on security related grounds, and that the industry should consider agreeing on a standard definition of ‘security-related’ parts to provide certainty to parts customers.

ACCC also committed to:
· working with manufacturers and dealers to develop a concise and simple explanation of consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), and their interaction with warranties, which should be provided to consumers when they buy a new car
· updating the Motor vehicle sales and repairs—an industry guide to the Australian Consumer Law, to ensure this publication provides additional guidance to consumers about consumer guarantees under the ACL. Guidance may also be designed for use by businesses, including dealers, regarding their rights and obligations under the ACL.

Enforcement
ACCC committed to monitoring and addressing refusals by car manufacturers to supply security related parts for repair and service, including through enforcement action where appropriate.
ACCC will also target claims or conduct that may mislead or deceive consumers about their consumer guarantee rights, including statements that authorised dealers must carry out services and repairs, through enforcement and other actions, where appropriate.

Links to ACCC draft reports:
· Summary for independent repairers
· Summary for consumers
· Full report