Ford drivers frustrated with their cars shuddering, jerking and lagging may be entitled to a refund or replacement under a redress program that brings the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Federal Court proceedings against the company to a close.
But the redress program is only eligible to a fraction of the 70,000 customers who bought the affected cars, leaving the vast majority with the option of turning to a class action lawsuit by Bannister Law.
The program comes after the Federal Court handed Ford a $10 million penalty for failing to honour refund and replacement rights enshrined in Australian Consumer Law.
Who's entitled to a replacement car or refund?
People who bought a Ford Fiesta, Focus or EcoSport car fitted with the company's defective PowerShift Transmission (PST) may be eligible for a replacement car or refund. As per an enforceable undertaking accepted by the ACCC, the decision will come down to an independent arbiter appointed by Ford.
Ford has been selling the models with defective transmissions since 2011, but the program only covers cars bought between May 2015 and February 2016.
About 10,500 customers bought one of the defective cars during this period, though they'll only be eligible if Ford denied them a refund or replacement at no cost.
The ACCC says at least 2000 customers will be entitled to one of these redress options – a long way from the 70,000 customers who bought a car fitted with the defective transmission since 2011.
What did Ford do wrong?
Fords fitted with the PowerShift Transmissions shuddered, jerked, made loud noises, and lagged in acceleration. The company knew it was a pervasive issue, but continued to deny refunds and replacements, choosing instead to lay blame on people's driving style.
The ACCC estimates at least half of the 70,000 PST cars sold since 2011 had at least one repair related to the transmission.
And in hundreds of cases alleged by the ACCC, Ford strong-armed consumers into paying $7000 more to upgrade their car to a new one under its "ownership loyalty program", when they could have been entitled to a free replacement or refund. It's estimated the company made more than $6.5 million in the nine months the loyalty program was running.