The Kambrook 2 Slice Wide Slot Toaster ($28 from Domayne) is the Kia Picanto GT-Line Manual ($17,290 drive-away from Magic Kia, Melville) of toasters while the Smeg Dolce & Gabbana 2 Slice Toaster — Sicily is my Love ($799 toast-away from Domayne) is the Mercedes S560 Cabriolet ($338,900 from Mercedes, Gold Coast).
Now here’s the thing. Both the toasters and the cars are covered by Australian Consumer Law, which says if the product is faulty you can take it back for a full refund. While Domayne will happily refund you if your toaster (the wide slot or the Sicily is my Love) is faulty, only Holden, Toyota and VW have a 60-day refund policy (if you buy a new car and it doesn’t work, you can easily get your money back).
As consumer advocacy group Choice, which is campaigning for car companies to abide by the law, says: “A new car is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. But if you get stuck with a lemon, you’ll spend more time in the repair shop than you will on the road — even if you’ve only owned it for a few months. However, most of our favourite car companies are stalling on our refund rights, with Nissan, Ford, Honda, Mazda and the rest (including Kia, Lotus and Mercedes) making no promise they’ll provide a refund if you get stuck with a lemon.”
Let me just make that point again. Choice is campaigning for car companies to simply abide by the law. This is not a socialist plot to take over the world. This is simply asking the auto industry to give car buyers the same rights as toaster buyers. Federal and state governments will put us in jail for not paying a parking or traffic fine but they let highly profitable big companies do what they like.
The ABC’s Cathy Van Extel reported on the Queensland Government finally bringing in lemon laws this month. Her interviewees included Connie Cicchini, who bought a new Alfa for nearly $40k only to see it spend 160 days in the dealer’s for warranty repairs and still not be fixed. Or Natasha Collier who bought an Iveco van for her courier business. One week after driving the Iveco out of the showroom the gearbox and brakes failed. Since then she’s gone back for the free coffee 10 times. Reader Lyndon Holland bought a used Merc C300 advertised as a June 2018 build from the Mercedes Benz dealer. But when the Merc went in for some warranty work the car turned out to be a September 2017 build. Since then Lyndon has been treated like a wood duck.
Now the nice car-buying folk of Queensland think with the new laws all their problems are fixed. They’ll learn. Remember the old political saying: “What do you do when the electorate feel betrayed? Betray them again.” The only way you can win against a car company is to start with a lot of money. Remember Sally Morphy, who bought a new Range Rover in 2016. A couple of days later the coolant warning light came on, a month later the gearbox light came on, a month later the coolant light came on again. Finally Sally had an independent engineer look over the car and he said there was a risk of “sudden and catastrophic engine failure”. Jaguar Land Rover Australia fought the case all the way. Sally employed Victorian lawyers Rennick & Gaynor. The Victorian Civil Affairs Tribunal (VCAT) ordered JLRA to refund the purchase price ($235,074 together with consequential losses) and pay costs.
Rennick & Gaynor’s Craig MacDougall told me that: “These cases need meticulous preparation with the assistance of a well-credentialed mechanical engineer experienced in giving expert evidence in court and a good barrister (Michael Rush QC) with an attention to detail. A thorough diary recording significant events and conversations is also essential for credibility. These were critical factors to our success in the Morphy case against Jaguar Land Rover Australia.”
Please don’t expect any warranty on the car in today’s pic, the 1961 Maserati 3500 GT, which was Juan Fangio’s daily driver. Juan and a few mates shared the car, given that it was based in Italy and he was based in Argentina. Astute readers will see the connection with the WART Beemer, which is based in Stepney with the old bloke while I am based in Surry Hills with even older persons. Anyway in 1966 Juan sent the Maser to the factory and left it there for 10 years out the back collecting ruggine. Finally, Juan drops off the perch, so does one of his mates and it’s not till 1981 that Maser allows the sole surviving friend to pick up what is left of the car. As auctioneer, Milan-based Finarte says: “The car is currently in the same condition in which it was recovered: almost complete, but in need of total restoration. Many new and original spare parts still in their packaging have been gathered over time, in view of a restoration, and are delivered with the car. The chassis AM101*1714* is still registered and the Maser has 1967 Italian black plates. Yours, if you pop along to the Padua auction on October 25th for somewhere around $800k.”
It’s pretty sad when banks do something good and then take it all back. Last week the BB&T bank accidentally transferred $160k into the bank account of Robert and Tiffany Williams of Montoursville, Pennsylvania. Bob and Tiff did what any two petrol heads would do and went out and bought a camper, a Chevy SUV and a race car. They also gave $15,000 to friends who needed the money. Scrooge and his fellow misers at the bank didn’t see the joy they brought to Bob and Tiff, car and caravan dealers and friends and had the fun police charge them. BB&T spokesperson Brian Davis told BuzzFeed News: “We’re continuously working to enhance our client service.”