How can a caravan manufacturer or repair facility be made to fix a problem under warranty?

The Law Society of SA offers a service to assist with finding a suitable law service.
https://www.lawsocietysa.asn.au/

One summary of how consumer claims are able to be progressed in SA. The value of the claim is relevant.

Note:

In the minor claims section of the Magistrates Court, matters are dealt with less formally, are inexpensive and parties are not entitled to lawyers except in special circumstances. The cost to commence a minor claim is approximately $140. You must commence the claim within three years of when the dispute first arose.

You may request that a lawyer assist you in preparing your case but the lawyer will not be allowed to appear in court on your behalf. The court may grant permission for a lawyer to appear, in such cases where the other party is a lawyer, if both parties request a lawyer or if one party will be unfairly disadvantaged by not having a lawyer.

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Most state and national newspapers contact details are on their websites.

You can also call them. If you do, ask for the journalist that covers consumers issues.

Make sure you refer to information from the ACCC when you lodge a story suggestion. This gives credence to the problems you are having and shows that some in the industry live in the wild west.

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Thanks for those suggestions,I will give them an opportunity to respond one last time before I take any action .

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@mark_m has provided a link which explains the process in SA of getting these shonks to pay attention.

For a $74K van that is unusable I would hound them through the courts, and take great delight in doing so.

In particular standard forms to fill out and serve on Apollo in particular. They have 3 weeks to respond.

Phone calls are no good. Dealings need to be in writing and kept. Emails and letters.

Go get em.

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FWIW:
If you haven’t already done so, write to:

  • Luke Trouchet Apollo’s Managing Director and CEO.
    Tell him how poorly you’ve been treated and that you are going to contact media sites which might show an interest in your story.
  • Contact Coromal Caravan Club of S.A. Inc. (President John Gray.)
    The Club could have members with a similar experience to share how it was dealt with?

Could be worth a try? Best of luck!

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We had similar issues. Our major issues came to light after undertaking storm damage repairers by a Third Party (engaged via our insurance company - they were amazingly helpful and extremely professional). There were lots of other issues, most of which were initially rectified in a very unprofessional manner and needed to be redone to our satisfaction. Much of the work appeared so shoddy it was unbelievable.
We contacted the ACCC who, after a number of weeks, advised us they deal with more ‘Global’ issues and referred us to Qld Trading Standards for individual support.
We contacted Qld Trading Standards. After a number of weeks they advised us they would contact the company on our behalf. However, they made it very clear the company were not obliged to enter into discussions/negotiations. If they refused to communicate there would be nothing further Qld Trading Standards could do for us! The company did respond. The crux of the matter was they stated they would not refund the costs because the caravan was no longer ‘In new condition’!! You have to know the issues to understand how ridiculous and insulting that statement was. There had been numerous leaks from day one resulting in mould and a rotten wooden frame (I won’t even go into the term fully insulated which is emblazoned on the side of the caravan)! The one thing in our favour was that the company committed to ensure any works we required would be completed by them. We gave them a very long list (copied to Qld Trading Standards) and insisted we were given access to view the structure once the interior walls were removed (yes, that was the level of damage/destruction). Insisting on viewing the structure proved to be a very wise, salient move on our part. Overall our new caravan spent more time in the repairer’s than it did on the road, it amounted to months ‘in for repairs’. We were left wondering what powers the ACCC and Qld Trading Standards really had. We now know purchasers of new caravans have very little/next to no recourse. A few weeks ago a case in Qld was taken to QCAT. The result was the company were directed to refund the money in full. We felt we could potentially win if we engaged solicitors but, didn’t want to risk spending thousands in legal fees. We sorely regret not receiving the advice or even thinking to take our matter to QCAT. Sad as this may sound, and everyone reacts differently, but never again will we support Australian made companies, above any other foreign company, nor will we ever buy a new caravan again. We truely hope you can take your matter further under an inexpensive Administrative Tribunal arrangement and, that you win your case. It’s an horrendous situation.

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Thank You for sharing your van story. I just cannot believe that such faulty expensive vans are being sold and sadly ruining the Australian Made Manufacturing Brand as a quality build product. i wish I had bought a cheaper Chinese one now. Majestic won’t fix all 10 issues, only the leaking roof so we can’t use it as we can’t lock the door or sleep on the broken bed base, so its worthless to us and cost $74,000 (My Super) Majestic blocked me and said they will only talk to my lawyer, only the lawyer wants $2000.00 just to send some letters and won’t guarantee I will get a refund anyway. I can’t afford that as we are on the pension. Its with SA Consumer Affairs at present and I just hope they can help us. I don’t think SA has an organisation such as QCAT. Ironically, I insisted we must buy an Australian built van and now realize thats no longer a guarantee of quality. .

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I live in a caravan on my own block while saving to build a house.
Around 18 months ago, I was very unwell and moved to Brisbane for convalescence. Meanwhile, my van was taken to the local (only) repairer, with a brief to fix a leak in the roof.

It took them more than a year, after 6 months of prompting, to finish the work. It cost around $3,000 for them to reseal everything.

I took the van home 6 months ago, and found that the roof still leaked (quite badly).
I sent them photos, they visited, and tried a minor fix (sealing some small holes) and told me to let them know how it went. They also mentioned that they hadn’t actually tested whether the van still leaked before giving it back to me.

The leak persisted. But now they don’t answer my emails or messages. (communication has always been difficult with them, but eventually they would reply. Not any more.)

I’ve covered the van with tarps to stop the leaks, but that doesn’t fix the problem, and there is significant water damage inside.

What are my rights as a consumer? Are they obliged to provide a warranty for their work?

Should I post negative reviews of their service to get some action?

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Hi @jen

I merged your query into this related one. The Community has many topics related to what seems to be an industry with lots of cowboy operators.

There is hope but it has since gone silent from what I can discern. As previously posted the original post references a facebook group

and the last from August 2022

Formalising your experience with a letter of complaint and following the process in the Consumer Law is probably a requirement to go further, but you might resign yourself to a badly built caravan or take legal advice sooner than later.

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This wasn’t a new van, I bought it second hand.
So my experience is with a repairer rather than a manufacturer.
I assume the laws are different?

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The ACL references reasonable expectations and you have rights under the ACL. Any ‘warranty’ in the traditional sense is at the discretion of the business to offer one or not.

The process is going to be the same. Since they have stopped responding you need to go through the process with a letter of complaint and if still no response sometimes having a silk write ‘them’ a follow-up showing you are serious that might make a difference. If there is no resolution take them to QCAT (assuming they are in Qld) and see how it goes.

The value of the repair may limit what you can do as a practical matter since the CAT system is meant to cover disputes of that amount. Getting any recompense for the damage done could be difficult as establishing when that damage occurred and who is responsible for the original leak and how long it leaked would come into the dispute.

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Thanks Phil. This is in NSW, but I assume the process will be similar.

I’ll try the methods you have suggested.

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How old is the caravan? If it has some age, it might require regular sealing when a new leak occurs.

Did the leaks occur where they sealed past leaks or in new areas?

If they are in the same areas where they have sealed, it could be easily argued that their sealing didn’t work. This would come under the Australian Consumer Law as you paid for a service/repair which wasn’t done properly.

If it was from a new area, then it could be that the caravan is new springing leaks. If this is the case, the new leaks would be your responsibility.

Edit: If new leaks occurred from a previously untreated area, it would be similar to getting a painter to do touchups on peeling paintwork and then thinking the painter is responsible for old paint which peeled off in other places after touchups were done. This would be an unreasonable expectation. If the touchups peeled off then it could be due to poor workmanship, which would be the responsibility of the painter.

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This may be considered under the ACL Service rights which are similar to the Goods rights

Services and the consumer rights that apply

When buying a service, a consumer has the right to expect the following things.

Due care and skill

Service providers must carry out all services using an acceptable level of care and skill. Their work must be at least as good as what a competent service provider with average skills and experience would provide. They must also take reasonable steps to avoid causing loss or damage when providing the service.

Example

A consumer hires a plumber to fix a leak in the bathroom. The next day, the same leak returns.

The consumer can claim that the service wasn’t provided with due care and skill.

Fit for a particular purpose

Services provided, and any resulting products, must be fit for any stated purpose.

This guarantee applies when:

  • a consumer tells a service provider they want to use their service for a particular purpose
  • the consumer buys the service based on the advice of the business
  • the service provider advertises that their service can be used for a particular purpose.

This guarantee doesn’t apply to professional services provided by a qualified architect or engineer.

Example

A consumer hires a carpenter to build a unit that will fit their 50-inch television. The finished product is too small.

The consumer can claim that the service didn’t meet the purpose specified.

Provided within a reasonable time

Services must be supplied within a reasonable time, if there’s no agreed time frame.

What is ‘reasonable’ can depend on factors including:

  • the nature of the services
  • weather conditions
  • availability of parts or materials.

Example

A consumer hires a builder to repair an outdoor patio. The consumer and the builder don’t discuss the completion date. The builder starts the repairs but doesn’t return for a month.

The consumer can claim that the service hasn’t been supplied within a reasonable time.

However, if it was raining during that time, the delay might be reasonable.

Major problem with a service

What makes a problem major

A service has a major problem when it:

  • creates an unsafe situation
  • has either one serious problem or several smaller problems that would stop someone buying the service if they knew about them beforehand
  • can’t be used for its normal purpose, or for a specific purpose that the consumer told the seller about, or doesn’t achieve a specific result that the consumer told the seller about, and can’t easily be fixed within a reasonable time.

Solutions

When a service has a major problem, a consumer can choose to:

  • cancel the contract and get a refund. This may not be a full refund, as the consumer needs to pay a reasonable amount for any work done so far and as expected, or
  • keep the contract, but pay a lower price that takes the problem into account.

If the consumer has already paid upfront, they have the right to get some money back. How much money will depend on whether some or all of the services provided did not have problems, or whether they were provided at all.

Minor problem with a product or service

Solutions

When a product or service has a minor problem, the business must fix the problem or repair the product for free.

The business does not have to offer a replacement or refund for a minor problem, although it can choose to do this.

When electronic products, like mobile phones, computers and music players, are repaired, consumers can lose their stored data.

Businesses may also use refurbished products or parts when repairing products.

Businesses have to warn consumers about both of these things by giving them a repair notice.

When the business can’t or won’t fix a minor problem

If the business can’t or won’t repair or fix the problem within a reasonable amount of time, or at all, a consumer is entitled to:

  • get it done somewhere else, with the business paying the consumer back for the reasonable cost of the fix or repair
  • get a refund or replacement instead
  • keep the product or cancel the service contract, and be compensated for the drop in value caused by the problem.

What is a ’reasonable’ amount of time for a business to fix a problem will depend on the nature of the product or service. For example, it may take longer for a repairer to attend a house to fix an installed dishwasher than for a pair of pants to be repaired in-store.

When consumers have a right to compensation

Under consumer law, businesses must meet a set of basic rights known as consumer guarantees when they sell products or services.

If a product or service does not meet the consumer guarantees, the consumer has a right to a repair, replacement or refund.

If the problem causes the consumer to suffer other loss or damage, they also have a right to compensation in addition to getting a repair, replacement, or refund.

It is misleading and against the law for a business to say that it is not responsible for the foreseeable losses a consumer suffers from using the business’s product or service.

What is and isn’t covered

Loss or damage a business must pay for

Businesses must pay for loss or damage that is:

  • caused by the failure to meet a consumer guarantee
  • reasonably foreseeable.

Example of damage that a business must pay for

A consumer’s washing machine breaks down due to a manufacturing fault. Water leaks out of the machine and damages carpet in part of the house.

It is reasonably foreseeable that a leaking washing machine may damage flooring. Therefore, the business must pay to replace the damaged carpet.

Loss or damage a business doesn’t have to pay for

A business does not have to pay for damage or loss that:

  • was not caused by its products or services
  • relates to something independent of the business, after a product left its control.

Example of damage that a business wouldn’t have to pay for

A consumer’s new car has a fault that causes it to leak oil on her driveway. Her dog runs through the oil and into the house, dirtying the carpet.

Although the car dealer would have to pay for any cleaning needed to the driveway, it would not have to pay for carpet cleaning.

The actions of the dog were unrelated to the issue with the car and the car dealer could not have predicted a dog would run through the oil and into the house.

How much compensation must be paid

The compensation should cover the costs that the consumer faced because of the problem with the product or service. Most costs are financial, but there can be other costs, such as lost time or productivity.

Compensation should put the consumer back in the position they would have been in if the problem hadn’t happened.

Example showing factors in working out compensation to be paid

A consumer takes their curtains to a dry cleaner for cleaning. During cleaning, the curtains are badly damaged.

As well as a refund for the dry cleaning service, the consumer is entitled to compensation for the damage to their curtains.

As the curtains already had some wear and tear, it would be reasonable for the dry cleaner to pay part, but not all, of the cost of new curtains.

How compensation is claimed

To seek compensation, a consumer contacts the business, verbally or in writing, to explain the problem and ask for compensation.

The consumer:

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Having had extensive experience with the RV industry over 40 years, I know the industry too well, sadly for mostly failures of some sort or another.
Majestic have heaps of form and surprised they are still in business. I am fairly sure if I dug back in my library I would have pictures of Majestic failures. Gentleman who lives down the road from me took them to court and won $25,000 or $30,000 from them.
The original post sounds normal for Majrestic from what I have seen and heard.

Sadly what happens on groups and in particular find FB, there are shills for brands shouting up and lauding their particular brand they are pushing. When I reply pointing out engineering or electrical details/failures/non-optimal setups the men don’t and won’t in the majority of cases believe a women. There is nothing in the way or RV work I haven’t done, including anything and everything electrical and construction. I did my very VERY last job for a lady last week - solar panels, new lithium battery setup, diesel heater, ripped out horrid absorption fridge and fitted compressor fridge and did cabinet work etc. Now selling up my extensive workshop equipment. Spend more time travelling with my caravan and helping community economic development organisations.

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The van is more than 20 years old and was due for a complete reseal, which they allegedly completed.
They certainly resealed the area where the leak is.

Update, I contacted them again today and received a reply.

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