I am the admin of the Lemon Caravans & RVs in Aus Facebook group. The stories my members tell are horrifying to say the least. This is an industry that urgently needs a Senate Inquiry and regulation. Regulators are letting consumers down. The judicial system is letting consumers down. I have members reporting being thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands out of pocket, simply for purchasing a lemon RV.
My own issue is with Lotus Caravans. In spite of evidence of major failures, including that the caravan is not compliant to Australian Standards, the dealer simply refuses a refund. Why? Because they just can. The consumer has to take expensive legal action, depending on the State. I am in QLD and the Tribunal limit is only $25000. So I have to take it to a full court hearing. Only NSW and Victoria currently have adequate limits for consumers to get redress at reasonable cost. However these Tribunals have become quasi courts, allowing legal representation for the businesses, which force the consumer to also be represented. Then costs are not awarded.
No matter which way you turn, if you buy a lemon caravan you are more than likely going to be financially worse off. Consumers know their rights very well, from being a member of my group and being referred to the information on the ACCC web site. Sadly, with no enforcement, those rights are meaningless.
I hope that Choice will contact me and discuss a survey into this industry as quite frankly it is actually far worse and far more dangerous that even the lemon car manufacturing industry. Do you or your family want to be confronted with a jack knifing caravan because the ball weight is too light, or a wheel coming at you because of a manufacturing defect, or a caravan that explodes right next to yours? This is what is really happening.
I have written submissions to the Australian Consumer Law enquiry and the Productivity Commission enquiry into enforcement and administration. Consumer affairs and fair trading are failing consumers. I have so much evidence that for the most part they refuse to enforce the ACL when they can do so. They simply refuse. So the consumer gets a refusal from the supplier, a refusal from consumer affairs and often when they take it to a Tribunal or Court, they may win but they lose as they settle at mediation with a gag order, they get a result but have to pay their own costs or sometimes are even told to accept more repairs in spite of expert evidence and reports.
This is not a consumer protection system. It is a business protection system.