The Agreement on Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicles 2014 was officially signed by AADA and other organisations last December.
After months of negotiations the Agreement, which amongst other items, will govern the information vehicle repairers in Australia must provide to consumers. Officially signed in Melbourne, the Minister for Small Business, the Hon. Bruce Billson MP was there.
‘[A] key focus [of the Agreement] has been to ensure consumers are provided with the right information to make informed decisions when it comes to the repair and servicing of their vehicles,’ Mr Billson said.
Indeed, this was an historic day for the industry, with plenty of positives for Australian motorists.
Promoting consumer protection and choice has been at the forefront of the AADA’s agenda since its reinvigoration earlier this year and the signing of this latest Agreement has been a major part of fulfilling the Association’s pledge.
However, there has been some confusion in respect to the level of access independent repairers now have in obtaining information to properly service the Australian fleet. In this regard, AADA contends that very little has changed. This was addressed in an AADA press release (also sent in December) titled, AADA Sets The Record Straight – Agreement On Access To Service And Repair Information 2014.
In the press release, AADA highlights that ‘independent repairers will continue to enjoy wide-spread access to repair information needed to service modern cars, for a reasonable cost with an improved Australian web based delivery system.’
The freedom and ability of independent repairers in accessing service information is well-documented.
In the final report by the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) in November 2012, limited and conflicting evidence was found concerning the difficulties associated with accessing specialised repair information for independents. What’s more, there did ‘not appear to be any systemic evidence of consumer detriment at present.’
As such, CCAAC recommended a wide-scale consultation and the development of an industry code to ensure continued consumer protection.
The recently signed Agreement reflects the CCAAC findings that access to service and repair information is available to independent operators and maintains competition in the aftermarket. In fact, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) makes their extensive repair information available to all independent repairers in Australia. Their call centre currently answers 98 per cent of received technical enquires.
In a move that will no doubt benefit vehicle owners across the country, independent repairers must now disclose whether they’re fitting genuine (OEM recommended) or non-genuine (sourced from an independent manufacturer/supplier) parts in the cars they service.
This, according to AADA CEO Patrick Tessier, ‘gives the consumer… a fully informed choice about the use of a non-genuine part which may not be compatible with the operating systems of a complex modern motor vehicle.
This is a fair and practical outcome for consumers, who should not only have the right to choose where they service, but what kind of parts are being installed in their vehicles’ Mr Tessier said.
Moving forward, AADA will continue to work with related industry associations to ensure that a level playing field is maintained and consumer interests are being protected.