Australian Ford 'misled customers on faults'

Australian Ford 'misled customers on faults'

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking action in the Federal Court against Ford Motor Company of Australia over its handling of customers who had problems with Ford Focus, Fiesta and EcoSport vehicles with a PowerShift transmission bought between 2011 and 2016.

Declining sales locally in the light vehicle market and shifting logistics for the next Ford Fiesta may see Australia struck off the list of destinations for the all-new model. These include excessive shuddering or jerking during acceleration, loss of gear selection and even sudden loss of power, which persisted even after multiple repairs. It is also alleged that in most cases Ford refused to provide a refund or a replacement vehicle unless customers participated in the Powershift Ownership Loyalty Program by making a substantial payment for a replacement vehicle, which was on average $7000.

'The ACCC alleges that Ford's conduct towards customers who had complained of issues with their vehicles was unconscionable'.

Even when customers did pay for replacements under the "PowerShift Ownership Loyalty Program", Ford took the faulty cars and sold them on to other wholesalers and customers.

The watchdog has made allegations including that Ford refused to give refunds or replacement vehicles and blamed customers' driving for transmission problems in the cars despite being aware of "systemic issues" from at least 2013.

'The ACCC urges all vehicle manufacturers to ensure their complaints handling processes provide the remedies that consumers are entitled to get under the Australian Consumer Law or, like Ford, they will find themselves in court, ' Mr Sims said.

The "PowerShift Ownership Loyalty Program" closely resembles a dodgy extended warranty agreement, where the vehicle seller essentially tells the customer to pay for the protection that they are already entitled to under Australian consumer law.

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The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, consumer redress orders, corrective advertising, and compliance program obligations.

But Ford has hit back at the allegations and defended its actions in looking after customers with affected gearboxes.

But Ford has refuted the ACCC's position and while acknowledging there are problems with the transmission, it handled the repairs and replacements appropriately.

"We acknowledge that some customers had a poor experience when the clutch shudder issues on the PowerShift transmission first came to light and we are sorry for this", said Ford Australia president, Graeme Whickman.

The auto giant then allegedly refused to provide refunds or replacement vehicles between 2011 and May 2015, even after the vehicles had undergone multiple unsuccessful repairs.

CarAdvice has a long-running trend of readers complaining about their PowerShift transmissions, and has a significant explainer on what customers should do - and what their rights are under the Australian Consumer Law.

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