DEALER BULLETIN: ORGANISED ATTEMPTS TO DISCREDIT NEW CAR DEALERS REPORTED TO AADA

16 October 2017

TO: ALL AADA MEMBERS
SUBJECT: Organised attempts to discredit New Car Dealers reported to AADA

AADA has recently become aware of a situation at a dealership in which an individual, presenting as a regular customer, initiated a dispute over an issue to do with the Takata airbag recall.

The precise details of the dispute are unclear, but the dealer was alarmed to discover that shortly after the incident took place, false, derogatory and potentially unlawful comments had been posted on social media.

Subsequent investigations have revealed that the customer was actually an independent repairer and franchisee of a large, Australia wide franchised repair network.

AADA have reason to believe that this was not an isolated incident and that the franchisee was acting on a franchisor directive, issued to all repairers within the network, to name and shame new car dealers at any given opportunity. This directive is most likely an attempt by the franchisor to win community support in the current debate regarding the availability of technical information, being dealt with as part of the current ACCC New Car Retailing Market Study.

If proven, such actions could be considered misleading and deceptive, deemed an unfair commercial practice or defamatory.

After being informed, by the dealer concerned, that the posts were probably unlawful and could lead to action in the courts, the repairer concerned promptly removed them from social media.

It is unfortunate that dealers are now being forced to defend themselves against instances such as these. Nonetheless, dealers are advised to be aware that there are individuals and groups operating in the market, who seek to discredit new car dealers at any opportunity. Dealers may be targeted and so, as always, should be aware of the prospect of such actions by seeking identification of customers and by monitoring social media closely and responding accordingly, especially where they suspect that a contrived dispute as in this example, is being used to “set them up”.

Yours Sincerely,
Signature

David Blackhall

For further information, please contact:

David Blackhall Chief Executive Officer
Australian Automotive Dealer Association Ltd
E: dblackhall@aada.asn.au
M: +61 413 007 833

James Voortman Executive Director Policy & Communications
Australian Automotive Dealer Association Ltd
E: jvoortman@aada.asn.an
M: +61 452 535 696

Brian Savage Executive Director Operations
Australian Automotive Dealer Association Ltd
E: bsavage@aada.asn.an
M: +61 418 377 594

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