Ultimate Car Dealer Dirty Trick? | Auto Expert John Cadogan | Australia

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If this doesn’t convince you of our urgent need for an independent car industry ombudsman – nothing will.

Paul and Jo Dale, from Darwin in the Northern Territory, Powershit Ford owners, they reached out to me on the 30th of August – jubilant that they had won their case in the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The shining beacon of free speech that is the NT News, owned by founding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Rupert Murdoch, corroborated Jo Dale’s story.

The Dales were also awarded costs, which is uncommon – with a total settlement of $25,826 ordered by Sally Gearin who presided over the NCAT hearing. NCAT’s cases are capped at a maximum of $25,000. Ms Gearin’s findings include a determination that the total damages suffered by the Dales was $30,921.64.

Sally Gearin found:

“I am satisfied the Applicants have proved their case. They should have been advised of the transmission problems experienced with the TCM when they purchased the vehicle. After the concerns raised were not fixed, it was unreasonable for the Respondents to expect the Applicants to drive a vehicle which was clearly unreliable in its performance. To do so would be to expect the Applicants to risk their lives or damage to themselves and or other road users with the vehicle’s erratic and unpredictable performance.”

Ms Gearin also found that the (quote) “failure to provide a vehicle that is consistently safe constitutes a major failure” under the Consumer Law. She awarded the maximum possible compensation.

The dealer – Red Earth Automotive, which apparently trades as Hidden Valley Ford in Darwin – was thus compelled to pay the $25k (and change) – leaving Mr and Mrs Dale about $5000 out of pocket, albeit burdened by one less shitbox Ford. This is after about 18 months of Powershit ownership hell.

On the 12th of September – less than two weeks after being awarded the maximum settlement available to NCAT, Mr & Mrs Dale learned that they were probably going back to court.

Red Earth Automotive is taking them back to NCAT, and asking the tribunal to reverse its decision. The dealer is seeking the earlier NCAT ruling in favour of the Dales be stayed, for now, and ultimately reversed, and is making an application that the Dales pay the dealer’s $500 fee to file this appeal.

None of this is of course giving me pause to reconsider my view on the ethical landscape inhabited by car dealers, but because the matter is before a court, I am limited in what I can say. I make no comment on the proper outcome, which is for NCAT to determine.

Personal opinion: This action by the dealer seems incredibly petty, and also counter-productive. If they were to pay the compensation as originally determined, they get the car back, they tart it up, they sell it to some other poor, uninformed bastard. They’re only out of pocket the difference between the $25k and what they get for that shitheap when they sell it.

If I were the dealer I would: a) kill myself, and b) carefully consider the real cost of the reputational damage such apparently churlish, vindictive action has on the enthusiasm of people in the market to engage with my dealership.

If you wanted to turn people away, putting a customer’s head in a vice, publicly, is, I’d suggest, a very effective deterrent.

The fundamental asymmetry of you versus a dealer, or you versus a carmaker, is as absurd as it is apparent. It makes the Consumer Law a joke – because you can only get the justice you can afford. It’s simply not a fair fight.

The Federal Government – and in particular Michael McCormack, the minister in charge of consumer affairs – needs to stop playing pocket billiards and sucking up to the car industry’s arsehole lobby group. It’s not helping. Personal opinion.

Here’s a novel suggestion: How about, instead, Mr McCormack gets off his arse and levels the playing field so that ordinary people – you know, the ones who elected him to represent them – so they actually get a fair go over the second most expensive purchase they will ever make, and upon which their mobility depends.

Mr McCormack: Put an ombudsman in place – and preferably not the former chief counsel for Fiat Chrysler, or somesuch. Someone actually independent. I’ll be waiting for hell to freeze over on that. You can contact the minister via his website – michaelmccormack.com.au – let him know what you think. And of course, tell him I said ‘G’day.’

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42 Comments

  1. Funny, this U.S. buyer was looking at Fiesta on a lot-car discount. Then I looked it up online at home, discovering "automatic" I didn't even want is the troubled dual-clutch. Good features at $14,000, yet I would have paid the savings over and over again in trips to the dealership and loss-of-use. Thanks to John and others for publicizing this mess.

  2. Interesting. Was pretty keen on a new Ford Ranger, don’t think I’ll bother with any Ford if the parent company is happy to put up with these sorts of actions from their dealers.

    Along with VW, I’m officially done with Ford as a brand.

  3. What needs to happen, and I don't expect will, is that ford and the other car sellers realize that since they don't make any cars here anymore, that brand loyalty to 'Australian cars' has gone out the window. If they want to gain customers and keep them coming back they have to stop trying to roger them and instead start taking some responsibility for their products. It's a novel idea and might stretch their brains beyond breaking point, but it just might stop them from sinking into the swamp of failed car importers in Australia.

  4. Well said!  If the Ford Motor Company (not just the low-life dealer) had any ethical standards (along with, perhaps, a capacity for shame) they would be bending over backwards to satisfy these customers.  Failing that, the rest of us "ordinary people" need to make our voices heard by NEVER BUYING ANY FORD PRODUCTS.

  5. There's Ford gone with a load of others off my list. Darn, at this rate I'll be buying a pushbike next time! We certainly do need lemon laws and an independent ombudsman in this country. Emailing McCormack now, but with the knowledge that I'm likely to turn blue before owt happens. Cheers John.

  6. It really doesn't matter whether it's cars or the Government, Rule of thumb money talks and bull shit walks.
    Power Shit makes me laugh but Good job.

  7. I see that Ford has a settlement for this transmission and I hope that causes Red Earth to have to drop their appeal. It goes to show that you need to research every purchase as almost all cars have some type of trouble.

  8. I know alll too well what Ford warranty and dealers are like to deal with. It took me 2 years and countless headaches before i got my faulty territory gearbox replaced! 😐😡

  9. I won’t buy another Ford. Ever.
    Video shared and this will be my BBQ story for many coming weekends.
    Love the “Pocket Billiards” reference because it’s the best description used to describe the entire system.

  10. I recently had an issue with MAZDA local dealership when quoted $1800.00 to repair and replace gear selector and cable with a 3 week delay to carry out repairs. went to a mechanic I have used previously and had the clip replaced on the cable the next day. cost $230.00. the rest of the gear was fine and did not need replacing. my car was a 2006 tribute. never going MAZDA again.

  11. When I saw the title to this video I thought "I wonder if this is about a Ford". LOL
    My friends think I have a prejudice against Fords but I don't think so. What I have is a justified conclusion after decades of observation of Fords letting people down.

  12. "I'll be waiting for Hell to Freeze on that." I thought John never believed in such a place. Hell is most frequently referred to in the most popular sold book in the world, the Bible, which according to John in previous videos, he is adamant is not real. If Hell isn't real, then you can't freeze it. It's like saying, I'll wait for global warming to get fixed when the excessive use of nuclear weapons will cause the earth's temperature to drop due to excessive cloud cover.

  13. I would have been surprised if the Ford dealer HADN'T launched an appeal. Car dealers are like the catholic church. They take money but don't like giving it.
    Ford are arseholes but then again all car dealers and manufacturers are arseholes. There's not a pussy among them and Australia with it's near to unregulated new car market is heaven for them..

  14. Even though i'm in America, this doesn't help Ford's reputation ANYwhere in the world. Ford is thumbing itself in the eye while it has it's foot in said mouth. If Ford allows this kind of BS in Australia, then I have NO doubt that it happens here too and just hasn't been uncovered sufficiently yet.

  15. This appeals process is designed to deter further litigants. Why is it the dealer and not Ford that is in the dock? It's their fucking piece of shit, they "built" it.

    Considering Australia no longer has a local car manufacturing industry to worry about, It's about time we got some decent laws enacted. Try with some "Lemon Laws" to start with and go from there. You can answer this yourself however, our Federal Government is beholden to global corporations and therefore doesn't want to upset anyone.

  16. even Lexus i bought a car 30k !!! found all transmission oil leak and engine oil leak. the wheel is stuffed because of hot oil. and many problems. yet the can make a refund and they claimed it has 100 mechanical points. the car didn't even drive more than 1,500 kilometers -.-!

  17. Again, Mr Cadogan good job.
    Clearly Ford will not be missed after it’s gone not to heaven but to hell.
    You have my unadulterated support Sir , Ford Australia is a scammer.
    No one should reward Ford Australia by purchasing any Ford product.

  18. Wow, this takes being an arsehole to a new level! Crap product & they blame the buyer for its crappiness is the basic tenet here. Trying to save themselves a few $, but with John's expose, Ford will lose even more $ plus market share.

  19. The Dealer should have involved manufacturer in the first instance, and sort to resolve the issue well before this? The reputation of the dealer is now under question, and what happens, of you the media get onto it and make it public. Consumer Law in my view, probably would have found the vehicle not fit for the purpose, but the long road you have to drive down to get to this is exhausting. Happened to me on several occasions, but I managed to "do a deal" and make it all go away quickly! What's your name worth?

  20. John, I have a question: If the dealership appeals the decision of the small claims court to a higher court, is the $25,000 restriction now removed from litigation? In other words, can the Dales counter-sue in the higher court and if they win a second time at the appeal, could they ask for (and potentially get) $30,000 plus costs? I hope that's possible [as a Canuck, I don't know how your court system works]. P.S. Love your videos.

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