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8 July 2016 - AAAA launches 'Truth About New Car Servicing' campaign

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association has launched an educational package targeting workshop owners and their customers to dispel the myths about new car servicing.

Comprising a brochure directed at mechanical workshops and a customisable frequently asked questions (FAQ) leaflet for their customers, the package explains the facts relating to new car servicing under Australian Consumer Law (ACL). 

AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity said the AAAA initiative will tackle the “urban myth” perpetrated by vehicle manufacturers and their dealers.

“To give them due credit, the vehicle manufacturers and their dealerships have done a fantastic job over many years in convincing motorists that they must service their vehicle at an authorised dealership and use only ‘genuine’ parts, or they risk voiding their new car warranty,” said Stuart Charity. 

“The ‘voiding warranty’ myth is backed up by statistics showing that dealership retention rates directly correlate to the age of the vehicle. Dealerships have the majority of the servicing market share of cars less than four years of age, while the overwhelming majority of out of warranty vehicles are serviced in the independent market. 

“This market distortion is perfectly understandable under the circumstances. Why would anyone risk jeopardising their warranty coverage on the second largest purchase they will make in their lifetime outside the family home?  

“While the statistics clearly show that given a level playing field, most people would use their local independent repairer, they do not think it is worth risking their warranty,” said Stuart Charity. 

So, what is the ACCC position on this?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently provided updated information regarding consumer rights and car servicing. 

As an independent workshop owner, you may be asked by a customer if they will void their new car warranty if you service their car. The answer depends on whether the warranty is offered by the manufacturer, or if it is an aftermarket extended warranty plan offered by the dealer: 

  • In the case of a manufacturers’ warranty, independent workshops can confidently assure customers that their manufacturers’ warranty will remain valid, and so will their protections under the Consumer Guarantees Regime. However, there are a number of important obligations put on workshops servicing in-warranty vehicles. These need to be followed to protect workshop businesses and their customers. 
  • If the vehicle is covered by an extended warranty offered by a specific dealer (which usually kick in at the completion of the manufacturer’s warranty), imposing conditions may be permissible. However these warranties cannot replace the manufacturers’ warranties or the consumer guarantees. Many independent workshop owners offer their own extended warranties, while others choose to educate customers on the many pitfalls that may be associated with them.
  • Many service logbooks include wording indicating that they must be stamped by an “authorised dealer”. However, the ACCC has confirmed that independent repairers may sign or stamp the relevant pages of customers’ service logbooks (once they have completed the service and all applicable requirements are met), without it affecting the manufacturers’ warranties.

Stuart Charity said: “Imagine a car servicing market where consumers are fully aware of their warranty rights and can choose their preferred repairer based on relationships, service, proximity and price, confident in the knowledge that their manufacturers’ warranty will be preserved, regardless of where they get their car serviced.  

“This is not a pipe dream. This is Australian Consumer Law,” said Stuart Charity.   

A Workshop Guide to explain the facts
To make this scenario a reality, the industry must work collectively to educate consumers about the facts and their rights under ACL. 

“We need every independent vehicle service business in Australia to get behind this campaign to provide factual and consistent information to their customers,” said Stuart Charity.  

“To help deliver the facts, the AAAA has produced a Truth about New Car Servicing – A Workshop Guide to Explaining the Facts. It is important to point out that the ACCC has reviewed the content of this material and has no concerns with the accuracy of the information being provided.  

“The AAAA encourages staff in all independent workshops to read this brochure and familiarise themselves with the different warranties, as well as your obligations as a repairer when you service new cars.  

“We also encourage you to customise the FAQ sheet with your business details and hand it out to customers to help educate them about new car servicing.

“This is an AAAA important initiative to ensure that the owners of Australia’s 17.6 million vehicles get the truth about new car servicing,” said Stuart Charity.

Independent workshops can get the Truth about New Car Servicing package on the Choice of Repairer campaign website www.choiceofrepairer.com.au.  

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