A new case lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) highlights the Australian Consumer Law’s (ACL) ‘consumer guarantee’ provisions and their ability to deal with disputes over second hand cars. The Consumer Action Law Centre, who has assisted Mr Eugene Lawrenz to lodge the case, said consumers buying second hand cars through a dealer had a right to expect the car was of acceptable quality.
‘Our client alleges that, less than a month after buying a car from Concord Lake in Ringwood, the timing belt snapped causing significant damage to the car’s engine,’ said Gerard Brody, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Consumer Action.
‘Many consumers might be aware of statutory warranties under the Motor Car Traders Act that apply to used cars where they are under 10 years old and has travelled less than 160,000 kilometres. However, the ACL also provides consumers with significant rights if a car is faulty or unsafe’, said Mr Brody
Mr Brody said the ACL’s consumer guarantee provisions essentially ensure customers are protected when a product fails to provide what could reasonably be expected. ‘The Tribunal is being asked to consider whether the timing belt broke soon after purchase and, if so, whether an ACL guarantee was breached. Our client is seeking compensation for the cost of the repairs and the loan which he needed to take out to get the car back on the road.’
The case alleges that Concord Lake breached the ACL, amongst other things, because:
- the vehicle wasn’t free from defects, safe or durable as a consumer would expect;
- wasn’t of an acceptable quality, as required by the ACL.
Mr Lawrenz said consumers who buy second hand cars are often unaware that they’re protected by the law and think that they just have to deal with mechanical faults, but the ACL says consumers should get value for money so it’s always worth giving the Consumer Affairs or Fair Trading office in your state a call.
‘I was unaware of my of consumer guarantees until I put in a call to Consumer Affairs. They told me that I may be protected because, in simple terms, a reasonable person would expect a newly purchased car, even a second hand one, sold with a roadworthy certificate, to last more than a month before breaking down and that the car wouldn’t require repairs costing more than 50 per cent of the vehicles value so soon.
‘If you’re in doubt, pick up the phone and call Consumer Affairs because you may have more legal rights than you think,’ said Mr Lawrenz.
Media contact: Dan Simpson, 0413 229 567