Angelo Barbaro, Consumer Protection’s Automotive Branch Manager joins Bec in the studio. Angelo, you’re here to tell us about some proposed law changes covering the WA motor vehicle industry?
Some of the key planned changes include:
- a cooling off period for vehicle sales involving linked finance;
- removal of special warranties; and
- reduced fees for contract cancellations and the scrapping of sales representatives’ licences
These changes are not law yet but how far along is the process
The proposal follows a broad review of the legislation involving extensive consultation with the industry and community. All recommendations of the review have been approved by Cabinet.
For vehicle sales what do these changes involve?
- A three day cooling off period for motor vehicle sales that are linked to dealer finance, either offered in house or as a referral to a credit provider (a flat $100 fee will apply);
- A maximum five per cent charge for the termination of a sales contract, replacing the current maximum 15 per cent ‘pre-estimated liquidated damages’* provisions;
- Removal of special warranty provisions for used vehicle sales, relying instead on the consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law to protect buyers;
- Salespeople no longer having to be licensed but licensed dealers will have the obligation of ensuring their sales staff have the appropriate experience, skills and training; and
- Improved disclosure requirements for dealers relating to whether a used vehicle is a repairable write-off or has had its engine replaced.
What are the proposed law changes designed to do?
The aim is to reduce red tape and to modernise the laws which protect what is a major purchase for most consumers.
We believe that the changes to the laws strike a fair balance that provide appropriate protections for consumers. While maintaining the commercial viability of businesses operating within the motor vehicle industry in WA. Separate warranties for used vehicle sales are no longer required with the consumer guarantees within the Australian Consumer Law providing adequate protection for buyers, so vehicles will be treated like any other consumer product.
The cooling off period for sales linked to finance gives consumers the opportunity to review their decision to purchase under those circumstances and brings WA in line with most other States. Having a set low contract termination fee prevents the current situation where consumers in many cases face losing thousands of dollars if they want to pull out of the deal. Likewise the amount better reflects the actual losses incurred by the dealership.
What will the changes involve when it comes to vehicle repairs?
- Certification for individual repairers to be renewed every three years, replacing the current one time only applications;
- Removal of the requirement for individual repairers to show they are ‘fit and proper’ with a focus on their qualifications, but repair business owners’ fitness requirements will remain; and
- Simplifying licensing requirements for mobile repair businesses, reducing their costs.
Having to renew licences for individual repairers will mean that Consumer Protection will always have an updated database of industry participants but the cost of renewal will be kept low.
What has to happen for these changes can start?
Before any of these changes can commence, amendments to the existing laws will have to be drafted and passed by the Parliament.
In many of these areas, a transition period will also be allowed in order for the industry and individuals to make the necessary preparations and adjustments to comply with the new laws.
Where can listeners find more information about this?
The review’s final report in the form of a Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) can be viewed on the Consumer Protection website