The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has accused Honda of misleading owners about where they could get their cars serviced, and claims it “deprived customers of the opportunity to make an informed choice.”
Honda Australia has been accused by Australia’s peak consumer watchdog of misleading customers about car-servicing arrangements – and trying to redirect them to its own online service booking system – following the switch to a fixed-price business model last year.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), during this period Honda Australia incorrectly told customers via text messages and email that former Honda dealerships – Tynan Honda in Sydney and Astoria Honda in Melbourne – had closed down and were unable to provide car servicing.
This was despite both sites continuing to operate independently – and being equipped to service Honda vehicles.
Honda has been accused of contacting customers and advising them to book their next car service through Honda Australia’s online booking system, rather than going to their nearest Honda dealer.
“We allege Honda deprived customers of the opportunity to make an informed choice about options for servicing their car in favour of a Honda-linked dealership which may have been less convenient or more costly for them,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said in a media statement.
“We also allege Honda caused harm to the Astoria and Tynan businesses, by falsely claiming they had closed or would close, which may have led customers to have their Honda vehicles serviced elsewhere.”
Honda Australia told Drive: “Honda Australia has cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation into this matter. We are reviewing the recent filing by the ACCC and at this stage are unable to comment further on specific circumstances or details regarding the claims made or individual dealers.”
The ACCC has filed the matter with the Federal Court of Australia (click here), and is seeking “declarations, pecuniary penalties and costs.”
Honda was the first mainstream automotive brand in Australia to switch from a traditional dealer model to non-negotiable fixed prices in July 2021.
Following the changes, the price of Honda new cars increased and sales declined.
A number of Honda dealers took legal action against the Japanese car maker in the wake of the shift to fixed prices, because they claimed they were not fairly compensated for the customer goodwill they had established over many years, and that their franchise agreements ended prematurely.
German car maker Mercedes-Benz also shifted to non-negotiable fixed prices in Australia, from January 2022.
Mercedes-Benz is also facing legal action – from a large group of dealers – who also claim they have not been fairly compensated for the customer goodwill they had established over many years, and that their franchise agreements ended prematurely.
William Davis has written for Drive since July 2020, covering news and current affairs in the automotive industry. He has maintained a primary focus on industry trends, autonomous technology, electric vehicle regulations, and local environmental policy. As the newest addition to the Drive team, William was brought onboard for his attention to detail, writing skills, and strong work ethic. Despite writing for a diverse range of outlets – including the Australian Financial Review, Robb Report, and Property Observer – since completing his media degree at Macquarie University, William has always had a passion for cars.