Looking at a number of complaints an unlikely trend appears. The more noise a consumer makes about their “Lemon” car the less manufactures and dealers offer to help. In some cases manufacturers/dealers have been telling consumers to “Never bring your car back here” because the consumer lodged a complaint with the ACCC.
This was not what we expected. One would assume any company would want to resolve an issue faster the more noise a consumer makes. The more vocal a consumer is about their complaint the more they get heard and the more followers they get on social media.
We also found that consumers who had been long time customers didn’t receive different treatment. This was a shocking finding. In some complaints we noted the consumer’s family had been long time customers. They were influenced to buy a particular brand because their parents did, and their children purchase the same brand also. So the impact for potential future sales is much larger in these cases.
In 2016 Fiat Chryslers Automobiles (FCA) Australia CEO spoke about how they restricted the flow of vehicles into the country. In an interview with Fairfax Media:
“Right now we can’t lose money importing vehicles so we’ve restricted the flow into the country,”
Mr Marchionne blamed the falling Australian dollar as the main issue:
“I think the biggest problem we have in the market today is the falling Australian dollar,” Mr Marchionne said.
Mr Marchionne went on to say the import cost and the Australian dollar was making their product uncompetitive.
However when comparing other manufactures for the same period who also imported vehicles, their sales did not decline, they actually increased. For this reason it is unlikely that the falling AUD and import costs where the biggest issue and other factors may have contributed to the downturn of sales for FCA.
We hope manufactures can see the value in good customer support and change their policies to be in line with Australian Consumer Law and become more customer focused.