The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA)has welcomed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Final Report into The New Car Retailing Industry.
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.
AAAA executive director Stuart Charity said the organisation was delighted with the outcomes.
“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.”
Charity also said 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,” 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 the 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 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,” 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 thanked its members for their efforts and dedication to doing the best they possibly can for their customers on the Choice of Repairer campaign journey.