Fix my car! Our one-year wait for proper dispute resolution for cars

One year ago today, the Access to Justice review was released by the Victorian Government. The review proposed a sensible fix for the thousands of Victorians who buy lemon cars each year.

To mark the date, Consumer Action Law Centre (Consumer Action) is launching a new campaign, Fix my car, to drive home the need to implement this sensible fix through the establishment of a specialist service to resolve disputes involving car purchases and repairs.

The proposed solution would also resolve a key problem in car disputes identified by Consumer Action’s Legal Practice: getting a free, independent expert report at an early stage to substantiate claims and help resolve disputes.

Whether it is travelling to work, school, or the supermarket, having a safe and reliable car is essential for many Victorians, particularly those in regional and suburban areas.

When buying a car or getting it repaired, people have rights under the Australian Consumer Law. However, asserting those rights if you have a problem with a car dealer or mechanic at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) is too hard, too expensive and too slow, leaving many Victorians stranded.

A new service is justified given the sheer number of people struggling to resolve car disputes. In the last financial year, more than 1 in 5 calls to our legal advice line related to car problems. A similar service, the recently launched Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria received over 1,000 complaints in its first month of operation, revealing that when a free, fair and accessible service is available, people are empowered to pursue their rights.

Consumer Action wrote to Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula MP yesterday to inform him of the need for immediate action to help Victorian families.

Quotes attributable to Gerard Brody, CEO Consumer Action Law Centre:

“One in five calls to our legal practice are from Victorians seeking help with car problems. That’s why we are launching the ‘fix my car’ campaign – the system is broken”

“Effective dispute resolution is essential to any well-functioning market, and the family car is one of our most vital assets. A new dispute resolution service for cars will mean that far fewer Victorians will have to rely on lawyers, tribunals or deep pockets to get justice”.

Consumer Action has a case study available for media comment

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