Nine Mazda drivers whose new cars had serious and recurring faults were given the “the run around” for months and even years in some cases in conduct deemed “appalling” by the consumer watchdog.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission began proceedings against Mazda Australia in October 2019 and on Tuesday, the Federal Court found it had made false or misleading representations to nine consumers about their consumer guarantee rights.
The consumers had requested a refund or a replacement vehicle after enduring serious and recurring faults with their new Mazda vehicles within a year or two of purchase.
But Mazda ignored or rejected the requests, telling the drivers the only available remedy was another repair – even though their vehicles had already undergone multiple unsuccessful repair attempts, including complete engine replacements, the ACCC said.
One vehicle had three engine replacements.
Camera IconThe Mazda CX5 was one of the models involved in the case. Credit: Supplied
“After repeated attempted repairs, over months and even years, in some cases Mazda offered to refund only a portion of the vehicle’s purchase price or offered a replacement vehicle only if the consumer made a significant payment,” the ACCC said.
The court found that Mazda made 49 separate false or misleading representations relating to the nine consumers, insisting they were only entitled to have their vehicles repaired, even though Australian consumer rights include a refund or replacement when there is a major failure.
The drivers were also wrongly told they were not entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle at no cost.
“Mazda engaged in long, drawn-out discussions with the consumers, often multiple times a day over months, in which it misled the consumers about their rights,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“Mazda’s conduct towards these consumers was not just appalling customer service as noted by the judge, it was a serious breach of the law.”
The court dismissed the ACCC’s allegations that Mazda had also engaged in unconscionable conduct despite finding it gave the drivers “the run around” with evasions and subterfuges.
The court will decide on penalties and other orders sought by the ACCC at a later date.Internet Explorer Channel Network