Full Federal Court Dismisses ACCC’s Appeals Against Mazda Judgment

Full Federal Court Dismisses ACCC’s Appeals Against Mazda Judgment

The Federal Court of Australia in November 2021 found Mazda engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, with the ruling determining the local arm of the motoring giant made false or misleading representations to a handful of consumers about their consumer guarantee rights.

Although the Court found that Mazda engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to nine consumers about their consumer guarantee rights, the ACCC was concerned that the Court dismissed its allegations that Mazda also engaged in unconscionable conduct in its dealings with the consumers.

As a result, the ACCC filed a Notice of Appeal against the Federal Court’s decision in April 2022.

This week, the Court dismissed that appeal.

The ACCC instituted proceedings against Mazda in October 2019, alleging at the time Mazda Australia Pty Ltd made 49 separate false or misleading representations relating to the nine consumers.

The ACCC said after experiencing serious and recurring faults with their new Mazda vehicles within a year or two of purchase, the nine consumers had each requested a refund or a replacement vehicle from Mazda. According to the ACCC, Mazda ignored or rejected the consumers’ requests.

It is believed Mazda told the consumers the only available remedy was another repair, even though the consumers’ vehicles had already undergone multiple unsuccessful repair attempts, including complete engine replacements.

This case concerns seven vehicles and ten individual consumers. Models include Mazda 2, Mazda 6, Mazda CX-5, Mazda CX-5B, Mazda CX-3 and Mazda BT-50. Apparently, one vehicle actually had three engine replacements.

“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 explained previously.

In finding Mazda made those nearly 50 false or misleading representations, it found the company misled these consumers about their consumer guarantee rights by representing that they were only entitled to have their vehicles repaired. Under the Australian Consumer Law, a consumer’s rights include a refund or replacement when there is a major failure, however.

But, the Full Court dismissed the ACCC’s appeal from the trial judge’s finding that Mazda’s dealings with the consumers was not unconscionable.

“We appealed this case because we believe that it is not acceptable business practice for businesses to give consumers the “run around” and discourage consumers from pursuing their rights for a refund or replacement vehicle,” ACCC commissioner Liza Carver said.

The ACCC said it will now carefully consider the Full Court’s judgment.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

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