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Serious problems in the industry, claim

Caravan council fires broadside
at manufacturers' ethics

Damaged caravanBy Dennis Amor
Have your say

SHIFTY caravan manufacturers have come under fire from the founder of the independent Caravan Council of Australia.

General manager Colin Young claims the multi-billion dollar industry still has more than its fair share of dishonest operators willing to leave unhappy customers in the lurch.

"No one can honestly deny there have been - and still are - serious problems in the industry, as confirmed by the large number of complaints and litigation cases," he said.

Mr Young has already met state transport ministers for transport, lobbied Vehicle Safety Standards and made numerous submissions to other bodies during his struggle to improve the "professionalism and image" of the industry.

"The core of the harmful situation is the intolerable number of major non-compliances of both the vehicle regulations and consumer protection provisions," he said.

'Cause of undesirable inconsistencies in production of caravans'

Mr Young blamed self-certification which allowed manufacturers to sell caravans and camper-trailers without professional regulatory auditing or detailed inspections.

"The failure to require manufacturers to have an acceptable quality-assurance program has been the cause of undesirable inconsistencies in the production of caravans," he said.

"There is an unacceptable culture in the industry to strongly repudiate any wrongdoings by caravan manufacturers and suppliers when they are notified by their customers of defects - even major failures - with their caravan.

"Sadly, this extends to their using intimidating and highly-defensive delaying tactics in an attempt to whitewash the issues, knowing or hoping that the customer will succumb to the pressure and not proceed with expensive and stressful litigation against them.

"Even worse, some people resort to initiating vindictive legal action for defamation against their own customers."

Mr Young said that fortunately some determined highly-aggrieved owners had called their bluff, and have launched legal proceedings against suppliers who have bluntly refused to rectify defects.

This began with a lawyer's letter of demand which in some cases had been sufficient to make suppliers see the "errors of their ways and condescend" to do as the law dictated.

In many other instances, litigation has proceeded to an administrative tribunal or a court.

"While the owner has won the case - often with the matter being 'settled on the steps outside' - they are still left with substantial costs and a very sad experience behind them."

Mr Young said the Caravan Council of Australia would continue its endeavours to improve the situation for caravan manufacturers, potential buyers and owners.


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the prior written permission of Dennis Amor.

Copyright 2005 Dennis Amor
All Rights Reserved

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