Tourism

Consumer watchdog raises concerns over caravan complaints

The unsung hero of our childhood travels has landed in hot water, with Australia’s consumer watchdog raising concerns over widespread complaints about caravan suppliers.

Australian consumers have reported widespread consumer guarantee failures, misrepresentations by caravan suppliers, and unexpected delays in the delivery and repair of caravans, according to a new report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

In an ACCC survey of 2,270 caravan owners, 80 per cent reported having experienced problems with their new caravan.

According to the ACCC, complaints about the caravan industry continue to rise, reaching more than 1,300 reports in the past five years.

“A caravan can represent a significant financial and emotional investment. Some people save for years in anticipation of purchasing and travelling in a caravan. If something goes wrong the harm can be significant,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

Under Australian Consumer Law, if your caravan fails to meet one or more consumer guarantees, for example, it is not of acceptable quality or doesn’t match a description made by a supplier, then you are entitled to a remedy from the supplier, which can be a repair, replacement or refund.

Many consumers reported to the ACCC that when they experienced issues with their caravan, they were unable to obtain a remedy or that the remedy provided did not fully address the failure.

“We are very concerned by these reported failures to comply with obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, and the impact that these failures have on consumers who have purchased a caravan which develops a fault,” Rickard said.

“Consumers need to be confident that when they make a significant financial purchase like a caravan, they will be able to get a refund, replacement or a repair if there is a failure.

“It is the ACCC’s view that it is reasonable to expect a new caravan won’t develop a major fault within the first several years of use.”

The ACCC is also concerned that many consumers believe suppliers have misled them during the sales process or when problems with their caravan arose. The most frequently reported misleading claims were about consumer guarantee rights and their interaction with warranties.

Consumers also reported they believed suppliers made misrepresentations about their caravan’s performance capabilities, and tow-weight.

The report also found that many consumers experienced delays in the delivery of their new caravan, or for repairs to their existing caravan, some of which relates to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions and recent increased demand.

“We expect that suppliers will be upfront with consumers about the timeframe for delivery of their caravan and any potential delays during the sales process and continue to proactively communicate until delivery,” Rickard said.


Image: iStock/Halfpoint



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