accc customer survey

Australians who have recently bought a new caravan are being urged to participate in a survey about possible consumer law issues in the industry conducted by the ACCC.

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The ACCC has received more than 1,300 reports about the caravan industry over the past five years. Common complaints include retailers selling new caravans that do not meet consumer guarantees, and faults leading to disputes between manufacturers and retailers about which party is responsible for the cost of repairs.

“The caravan industry has experienced strong sales growth in recent years, and this is expected to increase as more Australians choose to travel domestically rather than overseas due to the ongoing pandemic,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

In 2017, the ACCC instituted court proceedings against Jayco, alleging that the business acted unconscionably and made false or misleading representations to four consumers about their right to obtain a refund or replacement for their defective caravan. In late 2020, the Federal Court dismissed the majority of the ACCC’s claims, although the Court has since imposed penalties of $75,000 against Jayco for misleading one consumer about their consumer guarantee rights.

the accc survey

“We are looking for further information from consumers and industry about the issues they have had with their caravans and their experience trying to get their concerns fixed. This information will help to inform our future work, including possible enforcement action.”

News of the survey has so far received strong support, particularly from Ms Tracy Leigh, administrator of the Lemon Caravans & RVs in Australia Facebook group.

“I am so thrilled. In conjunction with a few others, I have been lobbying the ACCC and Treasury for over five years for action. Putting the RV industry on the ACCC priority list this year was a first step. Now we have the second step. This is a prelude to more robust action against those who continue to choose to breach the Australian Consumer Law,” Ms Leigh wrote on her Facebook group in response to the ACCC’s announcement.

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However, Ms Leigh and others were critical that the survey only covers purchases made in the last two years. She added, “Many members (of her Facebook group) are complaining about this and I have addressed it with Rod Sims and senior enforcement managers, probably to no avail as the survey is now published.”

The ACCC has published separate surveys for purchasers and retailers of new caravans.

The purchaser survey focuses on the sales process and whether consumers had any subsequent faults with their new caravans, and, if so, whether they were able to have these resolved under the warranty or the consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law.

the ACCC survey lemon caravan

The retailer survey focuses on any disputes with consumers about warranties and consumer guarantees, and whether retailers have had any indemnification disputes with manufacturers.

Both surveys are available at the ACCC consultation hub and will remain open until 10 December 2021

“If you are a retailer of new caravans or a consumer who has purchased a new caravan, please take the time to complete the survey,” Ms Rickard said.

“Empowering consumers and improving industry compliance with consumer guarantees, with a focus on high-value goods including motor vehicles and caravans, is a current compliance and enforcement priority for the ACCC.”

We at Caravan and Camping Australia also welcome the news and we encourage our readers, particularly those who have had a bad purchasing or warranty experience in the last two years, to participate in the survey. The more information the ACCC has, the better informed they will be about the state of the industry. This will hopefully lead to a fairer and more secure purchasing and warranty framework for consumers.

We also encourage RV retailers to participate in the survey. Often the dealer is caught in between the customer and the manufacturer when it comes to resolving issues and the ACCC needs to be aware of this as well.

By Marty Ledwich

Marty Ledwich is a writer and photographer who is on the road full-time with his wife, Kylie, towing their off-road Roadstar caravan with a Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series. Marty was a volunteer in the Victoria Sate Emergency Service for 30 years and has travelled extensively around Australia.

5 thoughts on “The ACCC wants your views on the Caravan Industry”
  1. The ACCC must take very strong action against manufacturers and suppliers who continually break the ACL provisions. It is incredible just how many highly-aggrieved ‘van buyers there have been, who have suffered heart-breaking, costly, lengthy problems try to get Suppliers to rectify Defects… even those that were deemed to be Major Failures.

  2. Wheel Alignment.
    So I bought a new caravan.
    Taken 5 years to cover 10,000 Klms only to find all 4 tyres are excessively wearing due to wheel camber being out on all 4 wheels. Expensive to fix with no help from the manufacturer. As a fault from new should not be left to the victim Owner?

    1. Hello Col

      I am not aware of any caravan manufacturer that performs a proper wheel alignment. Most do a rudimentary alignment but it would hardly be considered a long-term solution. We recommend caravan owners have the wheels aligned after, at most 12 months of initial use. We would also highly recommend owners get the seals checked at the same time to ensure there are no water leaks.

      Trying to prove, let alone convince a manufacturer your wheel alignment was out from new after 5 years would be very difficult.

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