The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) is celebrating the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Final Report into The New Car Retailing Industry which was released on 14 December 2017. The ACCC’s Final Report recommends a mandatory scheme that will compel all car companies operating in Australia to share the same repair and service information that they currently share with their dealerships, with independent repairers on fair and reasonable commercial terms.

“To say that we are delighted with this outcome would be a major understatement,” AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity stated.

“This is a David and Goliath story. A group of small independent repairers spread throughout the country with limited political skill and very limited resources, took on the might of the multinational car companies. The car industry leveraged their financial, lobbying and marketing power to criticise the skill and credentials of our industry, telling Government that all vehicle repair and service information was being made available but independent repairers didn’t have skills to use it. The ACCC has refuted those claims and the evidence supports our seven-year Choice of Repairer campaign.”

Les Mc Master, Director of Right to Repair SA (R2RSA), says this is great news for the SA campaign as it highlights what is happening in other countries where the Right to Repair campaigns have been active. “Once again this proves that the objectives of the R2R campaign in SA are nothing unusual and are being successful adopted in other countries.”

Charity also believes that time is of the essence to act on the recommendations contained in the ACCC’s Final Report. “The Government has the independent umpire’s verdict which contains clear evidence of anti-competitive behaviour. They now need to act quickly to protect consumer choice and competition in the automotive repair and service industry. There is no reason for any delay as this recommendation has been a long time coming. It has been five years since the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAC) recommended that the Government consider the introduction of a mandatory code for data sharing. Finally, after an exhaustive 18-month review, the ACCC has recommended government intervention in the form of a mandatory scheme, so it is now time to act,” he says.

“We believe that the key to great consumer outcomes is to have both dealers and independent repairers on a level playing field, competing for customers on their merits. The Choice of Repairer campaign has never been about bashing dealerships and if they also need a fairer deal, the AAAA would fully support that,” he concludes.

Mc Master says the R2R campaign aims to allow consumers to select where their vehicles are serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice. “There is a need for a fair and competitive regulatory environment that enables freedom of choice for consumers and gives aftermarket Small Medium Enterprises a chance to stay in business. South African legislature needs to follow international Right to Repair trends which promote South Africa’s existing consumer and competition laws. We celebrate this victory with our Australian counterparts,” he concludes.