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Sharing of Service and Repair Information in the Automotive Industry

A 2012 Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) review found that there does not appear to be any evidence of systemic consumer detriment regarding the sharing of service and repair information in the automotive industry. To ensure this continues to be the case, CCAAC recommended that the automotive industry develop, within a reasonable period of time, an outcome that ensures there is a process for independent repairers to access repair information.

Now, 23 months later, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) and the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) are the only organisations that appear to be making progress on this matter. As part of its commitment to the Government and consumers to act on this issue, the FCAI has released a Voluntary Code relating to access to service and repair information, training and the supply of quality parts. The Code is supported by the AADA—the body representing motor dealers.

“While developing our respective codes, the FCAI and AADA have continued to work with other relevant industry associations to develop an overarching principles agreement for this matter, which we are still committed to finalising. We understood that the AAA, AAAA and AMIF were consolidating all comments, including FCAI and AADA comments, on the proposed wording for the industry Agreement, which will be signed by the FCAI, AAAA, AADA, AMIF and AAA," FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said.

"In addition to the Agreement, it is anticipated that each party will release their own Code to display their commitment to ensuring that consumer interests are foremost in this matter. We are eager to see the drafts of these documents.

"Our commitment to this process and to consumers still stands, and was openly demonstrated by the release of our Code. We encourage the other industry associations to follow the FCAI lead in a timely manner, as it is now 23 months since the release of the 2012 Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council review and we question why there is a delay from other industry associations. 

The FCAI committed to Government that it would release its Voluntary Code of Practice relating to Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicles in a timely manner, before the end of August 2014. Prior to releasing the Code, the FCAI contacted all parties involved in the development of the Agreement. This was done to reassure all parties of our commitment to the Agreement process. "Given that it is in the hands of the other Associations to respond to the FCAI wording for the Agreement, we are understandably perplexed that AAAA appears to be abandoning the process," Mr Weber said. 

"The AADA will meet in November to ratify our Code,” AADA Chairman Ian Field said. “The AADA, like the FCAI, clearly understood that consolidation of comments on the latest planned industry agreement was in the hands of industry associations other than FCAI. We are also quite disappointed that the AAAA seems to have walked away from the process, which up until then had been leading to greater understanding across all industry associations of the technical matters involved.”

The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) has offered to make their extensive repair information library available to all independent repairers in Australia. There is a small cost for non-VACC members. Mr Field said the call centre currently answers 98 per cent of received technical enquiries. "It’s therefore difficult to understand what repair information AAAA wants, which is not readily available at a small cost, or provided as part of being a VACC member,” Mr Field said.

The FCAI Code has been developed to ensure that the service and repair of motor vehicles is carried out in a manner that best protects the consumer interest in their vehicle. To assist in achieving this, the Code ensures that independent repairers will be aware of the process to access service and repair information and provide a methodology to seek information where it appears unavailable. The Code takes into account the particularities of the Australian market and has considered relevant aspects of other countries’ activities in this area.

For more information, contact:
Sheena Ireland, Communications Manager
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries
02 6229 8221 / 0458 038 555
sheena.ireland@fcai.com.au 

Michael Deed, Policy Director 
Australian Automotive Dealer Association
07 3237 8711 / 0417 742 956                                                                         mdeed@aada.asn.au