AAAA LEADS INDUSTRY CHARGE AGAINST ANTI-COMPETITIVE PROPOSAL
The AAAA and 133 of its members have rallied together to ensure the most trade-restrictive proposal seen in recent times is rejected by the ACCC
Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) has lodged an exclusive dealing notification with the ACCC, seeking permission to introduce a 10-year warranty for purchasers of new Mitsubishi vehicles which requires all servicing to be conducted by a Mitsubishi dealer.
As the practice of putting conditions on warranties is prohibited, Mitsubishi has asked the ACCC for an exemption from Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
In response, the AAAA has moved quickly to file its own comprehensive and legally-based objection to the notification; encourage and assist its member base to file their own submissions; gain an extension to October 9 for those submissions; and reach out to other parts suppliers and repair groups to ensure they were aware and able to register their own opposition.
AAAA Director of Government Relations, Lesley Yates, spearheaded the AAAA’s campaign; working around the clock ahead of the October 9 deadline for submissions with the support of the AAAA and its partner, Industry Legal Group.
At the time of printing this edition of AAAM Magazine (October 16), a decision was yet to be made by the ACCC on this issue, but it is expected one will be made public before the end of October 2020.
“If this application is waved through by the ACCC this would set a very dangerous precedent that would most likely be followed by other car brands and would have a damaging impact on the aftermarket industry and on consumers,” Yates said.
“This intention to restrict customer choice is a significant threat to our industry and requires consumers to trade away their statutory rights to avoid potential issues with one of their most valuable assets while reinforcing the myth that the only protection a consumer has on their vehicle is under a manufacturers’ warranty.
“Everyone at the AAAA and many of our members have worked exceptionally hard to show the ACCC what will happen to competition and to consumer rights if this notification is allowed to stand.
“We have been greatly encouraged to have so many of our members of all sizes, locations and specialities come together to stand side by side with us in this critical fight. Well over 100 member businesses, despite their individual competitive interests, have pulled together to protect consumer rights and the future of our industry and we are very thankful for their efforts.
“It is our hope that the ACCC will seek to reinforce the competitive nature of our market and not restrict consumer choice or reduce consumer rights. We now eagerly wait to see if our work, and the amazing work of our members and other interested parties, has been enough to sway the ACCC away from facilitating this terrible move by Mitsubishi Motors.”
Pedders, Bapcor, J&F Motors and Davies, Craig are four of the 133 members who have joined the AAAA in this important fight.
“Pedders Suspension and Brakes would like to pass on its thanks to the AAAA staff and members for their quick and decisive action in regards to the MMAL 10-year warranty application,” Pedders Suspension and Brakes Director, Mark Pedder, said.
Mark, who is also Chairman of the AAAA board, continued, “this has the real potential to set a precedent for other manufacturers to follow and without the support of the Association plus the enormous ground swell of support from Industry this would now be a reality. To Stuart, Lesley and all at the AAAA, it is great to know you have our backs so we can continue to forge forward even through difficult times.”
Bapcor Limited Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Darryl Abotomey, echoed Mark’s comments.
“We believe this warranty offer and the conditions linked to it places consumers in a situation where they are restricted from having any choice of who can service and repair their cars,” Darryl, said.
“The vehicle manufacturers will know these customers are forced to always service their vehicles directly with them for that entire period or their customers will risk losing their warranty. In the end consumers will be paying more for their car servicing as it is well known that servicing a car at a dealer is more costly and less convenient for most compared to using independent workshops.
“We are proud to stand alongside our team members, fellow AAAA members and Australian motorists in raising our concerns against this latest move by a vehicle manufacturer to lock out independent repairers.”
J&F Motors Director, Steven Grocl, agrees that it is important to avoid a precedent that could undo the work of the Right to Repair campaign.
“If this exclusive dealing notification is allowed to proceed it is highly likely that most other manufacturers will follow suit, therefore preventing Independent Repairers from competing on an even playing field and undoing all of the previous hard work. Subsequently this will threaten the future for Independent Repairers as an industry,” Steven said.
Australian Electric Fan and Electric Water Pump Manufacturer Davies, Craig was another pleased with how the industry has pulled together for this cause.
“Davies, Craig sees this proposed scheme as a vastly broader public issue given such relationships are highly susceptible to abuses of power and can be seen as a form of entrapment. It was great to see such strong action from fellow AAAA members,” Davies, Craig Sales and Marketing Manager and AAAA Director, John Benson, said.
“Our industry is strongest when it stands together and this response is just another example of why Davies, Craig is such an avid supporter of the Association.”
For updates on the ACCC decision from the AAAA as they become available, members should keep an eye on their email inboxes. Alternatively, visit www.aaaa.com.au