Choice of Repairer

AAAA Releases its Vehicle Data Sharing Code of Practice

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) today distributed its vehicle data sharing code of practice to members of the industry Steering Committee on Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicles.

Overseen by Federal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson, the Steering Committee is charged with implementing the core principles of a Voluntary Heads of Agreement for the sharing of vehicle service and repair information.

A Voluntary Code of Practice covering all auto industry stakeholders was the primary recommendation following an extensive inquiry into vehicle data sharing conducted by the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) in 2012.

Members of the Steering Committee include the AAAA, the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF), the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

In December 2014, all parties signed an historic Heads of Agreement – Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicles. All signatories face a 30 April 2015 deadline to table individual codes of practice covering their respective segments of the industry.

AAAA initiated its Choice of Repairer campaign in 2009 to protect consumer choice and competition in vehicle repair and service sector by eliminating any technical or legal barriers that impact on the Australian consumers’ rights to have their vehicle serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice.

AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity said the Auto Aftermarket Code of Practice developed following broad consultation delivers a level playing field for Australian car owners and independent workshop businesses.

“The Auto Aftermarket Code of Practice addresses core issues to help balance the market power and technological advantage of the multinational car companies against the independent repairer industry, which predominately comprises small, family owned businesses,” he said.

Aftermarket Industry Commitment
The Auto Aftermarket Code of Practice is based on the following key principles included in the Heads of Agreement:

  • That consumers should be able to choose who maintains and/or repairs their motor vehicle.
  • Independent repairers should be able to access all information required for the diagnosis, body repair, servicing, inspection, periodic monitoring and reinitialising of the vehicle in line with the service and repair information that manufacturers provide to their authorised dealerships.
  • Service and repair information should be made available on commercially fair and reasonable terms.

Specifically the Auto Aftermarket Code of Practice outlines standards of practice and behaviour for our members, who will:

  • Ask for the data and repair information that they need to service and repair their customers’ vehicles.
  • Pay a fair price for this data and information.
  • Formally complain when the data is not provided, is difficult to access or priced unreasonably.
  • Explain to their customers the truth about vehicle servicing and warranties.
  • Provide transparent information on the source of the parts that they use to service and repair vehicles.
  • Acknowledge the importance of ongoing training to ensure the sector is proficient and efficient.

The AAAA will also monitor the performance of the Voluntary Code of Practice. Repairers will be encouraged to formalise requests for vehicle data, and if it not forthcoming, to record the incident on an online collection tool, which will collect evidence from the market on any systemic issues relating to the availability of repair and service information.

The Genuine Parts Myth
Stuart Charity said the aftermarket industry will tackle head on the issue of the origin of parts. “Our commitment is to ensure full transparency and to assist our customers in fitting the most appropriate parts for their vehicle,” he said.

“The term ‘genuine parts’ is a marketing slogan created by the car companies. Generally the vehicle manufacturers do not make replacement parts. These parts are usually manufactured by third party component suppliers with a car company brand on the box.

“The terms ‘genuine’ and ‘non genuine’ are not particularly transparent and do not provide consumers with clear information on the source of these parts. The issue is not who manufactured the parts, it is whether the parts are fit or appropriate for the purpose intended.

“Both OEM parts and independent aftermarket parts come with consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law. They are often made in the same factory, but are labelled and packed differently, with the aftermarket version usually sold at a lower price.3

“To assist independent repairers to inform customers of the source of parts, we recommend itemising quotes and invoices to list the brand and type of parts to be fitted.

Completing the Data Sharing Code of Practice
At the recent AAAA Excellence Awards Dinner, Minister Billson restated his commitment to making vehicle data sharing a reality for the independent aftermarket and announced that he has asked the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission to conduct a review of the capped price service programs being offered by vehicle manufacturers.

Stuart Charity said after six years of advocating its Choice of Repairer campaign, the AAAA looks forward to reviewing the codes of practice offered by the other signatories to the Heads of Agreement on Access to Service of Repair Information for Motor Vehicles.

“We are particularly keen to see the detail of the FCAI voluntary code. They represent the vehicle manufacturers and importers and will be the group most often making vehicle service and repair information, tools and equipment available for sale to independent workshops.

“If the voluntary data sharing Heads of Agreement is not making a significant difference to the availability of repair information after the initial 12 month period, we will again approach Government to advocate for the introduction of a Mandatory Code of Practice,” said Stuart Charity.

Read the AAAA Auto Aftermarket Code of Practice by CLICKING HERE.

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