The ACCC has published a report on Australian Consumer Law compliance within the caravan retailing industry. The report summarises the results of a survey that was open to consumers and suppliers
According to the report, the ACCC has received an increasing number of complaints from consumers about campervans, camper trailers and caravans (including recreational vehicles or RVs) since 2017. The findings in ACCC v Jayco Corporation Pty Ltd  FCA 1672, where a $75,000 penalty was awarded against Jayco Corporation for one contravention of making a false or misleading representation about consumer guarantees rights under the ACL, put the industry in the spotlight for an investigation into whether there is widespread behaviour of non-compliance.
Findings in the report mirrored previous issues identified by the ACCC within the automotive industry.
These findings include consumers:
- being told at the time of sale they could only receive a remedy under the manufacturer’s warranty;
- being misled at the time of supply as to performance capabilities of caravans;
- being misled about the availability of spare parts;
- either experiencing major failures or multiple minor failures with a new caravan purchase; and
- not receiving repairs within a reasonable time frame.
The findings also include suppliers:
- accepting payment for new caravans they could not supply to the consumer within a reasonable time; and
- not being indemnified by manufacturers for breaches of the consumer guarantees.
The report emphasises the ACCC’s support to impose civil penalties on manufacturers and suppliers for breach of consumer guarantees, which is currently being considered by the Australian Department of Treasury.
CIE Legal advises a wide range of consumer product clients in relation to these issues, including those in the car, motorbike, and truck industries. We also have a Consumer Disputes Advocate program where we second CIE Legal employees to act as Consumer Disputes Advocates within the client’s businesses. The advocates are legally trained, and are responsible for assessing, investigating, and supporting the business in relation to its ACL compliance obligations (including resolving customer complaints). Working within the business, yet supported by the wider CIE Legal team, enables the Advocate to be alive to the client’s culture and business needs, while remaining independent and objective.