ACCC sues Ford over automatic gearbox customer failures
FORD Australia is in the trenches ready to battle the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission which is suing the blue oval marque for "deceptive conduct" in answering customer complaints.
The ACCC alleges Ford Australia "engaged in unconscionable and misleading or deceptive conduct, and made false or misleading representations in its response to customer complaints".
Complaints relate to Ford's Focus, Fiesta and EcoSport vehicles supplied in Australia between 2011 and 2016, which have an automatic PST transmission - known as the PowerShift Transmission.
According to the ACCC, about half of the 70,000 vehicles sold had at least one repair relating to the PST.
Complaints included excessive shuddering and jerking when accelerating, loss of gear selection and sudden loss of power and/or excessive noise.
The ACCC says Ford refused to provide a refund or replacement vehicle to consumers, even after vehicles had undergone multiple repairs that had not fixed the issue. It is also alleged that in most cases Ford refused to provide a refund or a replacement vehicle unless customers participated in the Powershift Ownership Loyalty Program by making a substantial payment for a replacement vehicle, which was on average $7000.
"In most cases, Ford only provided replacement vehicles in accordance with its 'PowerShift Ownership Loyalty Program', which required consumers to make a significant payment towards a replacement vehicle," an ACCC statement said.
Ford Australia refutes and rejects the allegations.
While Ford acknowledge issues have arisen in certain vehicles fitted with the PST, the manufacturer says as each issue was identified, a team has investigated and worked with customers to implement manufacturing and repair solutions.
"We acknowledge that some customers had a poor experience when the clutch shudder issues on the PowerShift transmission first came to light and we are sorry for this," Graeme Whickman, Ford Motor Company Australia president and CEO said.
"We've continued to improve our response times to customers and have been repairing vehicles, compensating customers, and depending on the circumstances, providing full refunds and providing replacement vehicles.
"Repairs are available for all PowerShift transmission issues and all new vehicles on sale today are built with the latest updates."
Mr Wickman said the company would "work with the ACCC wherever needed to help provide certainty about the application of Australian Consumer Law for our industry".
"Our focus right now is on continuing to get the latest specification clutch to our customers so they can enjoy their vehicles as intended," he said.