Mazda Australia has been found guilty of engaging in “misleading and deceptive conduct” in Federal Court.
The Federal Court today found the company made 49 individual false or misleading representations about consumer rights to nine customers seeking refunds for Mazda 2, 6, CX-3, CX-5, and BT-50 vehicles with recurring faults.
One customer had their engine replaced three times, but continued to experience problems with their car.
The ACCC alleged “consumers were forced to contact Mazda multiple times over months and even years, as they continued to experience the faults with their vehicles.
“The consumers requested a refund or replacement vehicle from Mazda on multiple occasions, but these requests were denied,” it alleged.
Federal Court Justice O’Callaghan found Mazda represented to customers they were only entitled to a repair, offered to refund only a part of the initial purchase price, or offered replacement cars to the customers on the condition they paid for them.
“After repeated attempted repairs, over months and even years, in some cases Mazda offered to refund only a portion of the vehicle’s purchase price, or offered a replacement vehicle only if the consumer made a significant payment,” the ACCC today said in a statement.
“The Court found that Mazda misled these consumers about their consumer guarantee rights by representing that they were only entitled to have their vehicles repaired, even though a consumer’s rights under the Australian Consumer Law also include a refund or replacement when there is a major failure,” the ACCC statement said.
Although it found Mazda misled the customers, the court rejected claims from the ACCC the brand engaged in “unconscionable conduct” towards them.
“The fact that Mazda did not always give the consumers precisely what they were seeking was not unconscionable conduct,” Federal Court Justice O’Callaghan wrote in their judgement.
Instead, Justice O’Callaghan found Mazda’s conduct represented “appalling customer service”.
The court hasn’t yet handed down a penalty to Mazda Australia. Previous cases brought by the ACCC, however, have led to court-enforceable undertakings from Volkswagen, Holden, and Hyundai designed to improve their compliance with Australian Consumer Law.
Mazda today declined to comment on the court’s findings.