8 October 2015
In response to Volkswagen's admission that more than 91,000 cars in Australia have been affected by the emissions scandal, consumer advocacy group CHOICE says that consumers should be made aware of their rights under Australian law to a refund or replacement vehicle.
The German car maker says that affected VW, Audi and Skoda models will be recalled and has launched a website enabling consumers to identify whether their car has the EA189 diesel engine designed to cheat emissions tests.
"Volkswagen says they'll develop a 'technical solution' to fix the engines but our concern is that this will be in the form of a software patch that fixes emissions by reducing the cars' performance," says Matt Levey, CHOICE Director of Campaigns and Communications.
"This response is likely to be unsatisfactory for many car owners."
Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to a refund or replacement if a product has a major failure and the consumer wouldn't have bought the product if they'd known about the problem.
"If the car's performance is substantially altered then the problem with Volkswagen's engine could be considered a major failure according to Australian Consumer Law," Mr Levey says.
"If the cars can't be repaired without reducing their performance, consumers should consider exercising their rights to a refund or a replacement."
"CHOICE members affected by this issue can contact our expert consumer rights adviser for assistance with a complaint through our CHOICE Help service."
CHOICE is urging VW and other car manufacturers to offer redress for Australians affected by the scandal.
Consumers can sign up to CHOICE's Come Clean campaign at www.choice.com.au/comeclean
Note to editors:
The Australian Consumer Law is found in Schedule 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). The consumer guarantees came into effect on 1 January 2011, with products purchased from this date onward being covered. Affected VW, Audi and Skoda models were built between 2009 and 2014. Models purchased before 1 January 2011 operate under different consumer laws.
CHOICE members have access to the CHOICE Help Service available at www.choice.com.au/choicehelp