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November 2018


Mr Lamont: vexatious complaints

Mr Lamont:
vexatious complaints

Social media campaign 'ill-informed'

Peak body speaks out after forum

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THE caravanning industry's peak body has acknowledged that all RV buyers should be entitled to "safe and compliant" vehicles.

The Caravan Industry Association of Australia was commenting after a joint communique was issued by the Consumer Affairs Forum, which was attended by government ministers responsible for consumer protection in their relevant jurisdictions.

Association chief executive Stuart Lamont said the Federal Government should make sure that the Road Vehicle Standards Act received its third and final reading without further delay at the next Senate sitting this month.

He said his organisation continued to take its stewardship of the industry seriously.

"Our industry has been waiting five years for this piece of legislation," he pointed out

"Over 21,000 caravans and motorhomes were built in Australia last year ... up more than fourfold over the past two decades.

"More than 70 per cent of all caravans bought in Australia are made here, with research indicating that even after 12 months 90 percent of consumers remain happy with their purchase.

"However, the inability to modernise the existing 1989 Motor Vehicle Standards Act has fuelled calls and an ill-informed social media campaign demanding lemon laws due to a small number of unhappy caravan owners who've experienced major faults and problems."

'Safety is paramount and consumer should rightfully expect remedial action'

Mr Lamont said many complaints were vexatious or may not have occurred had the Road Vehicle Standards Bill come into force.

"Safety is paramount, and where there is a genuine problem the consumer should rightfully expect remedial action.

"Businesses, however, should also have the right of reply and the opportunity to fix any issue. We are seeing too many occasions where consumers are placing unreasonable and unlawful demands on industry businesses.

"This is where it is important that the two pieces of legislation need to work better together for positive outcomes for all concerned."

Mr Lamont also criticised calls by the Queensland Government for ‘Lemon Laws’, when consumers of RV products faced a $25,000 cap when pursuing consumer disputes through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and forcing them and businesses alike into costly and unnecessary legal action.

With such a low cap, he understood the frustrations of RV consumers whose purchases exceeded it.

He believed the so-called 'Lemon Laws' would place "an unjustifiable and an unreasonable compliance burden on RV manufacturers and retailers, the vast majority of whom were busy running and growing their enterprises, including employing many thousands of Australians and contributing to the nation’s economy".

"These are small businesses who can ill afford to expend the resources both financially and in terms of time of challenging the many untruths that continue to be perpetrated in social media or having to deal with vexatious claims," he said.

Mr Lamont said the industry stood ready to work with consumer ministers from all jurisdictions to ensure the communique's provisions around 60-day refund or replacement rights, evidentiary burden on consumers and the introduction of a general safety provisions were reasonable and fair for both consumers and businesses.


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Copyright 2005 Dennis Amor
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