Following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into customer complaints against Holden, the carmaker has re-addressed its obligations to consumer guarantees.
As such, all Holden new vehicles will come with an industry-first 60-day guarantee, which offers buyers a repair, replacement or refund of their car if a fault makes it undriveable during its first two months.
Reinforced by a commitment to out-of-warranty support, the guarantee is in addition to traditional warranty obligations.
The ACCC has also urged other car companies to make sure their Australian consumer law compliance programs are satisfactory, as unlawful conduct will be met with action from the government body.
During the past year, the ACCC launched federal court actions against Volkswagen, Audi and Ford over various compliance issues, while its imminent report on car retailing is set to reveal wider problems in the industry.
According to Holden, it had already begun reforming its processes ahead of any ACCC involvement.
Several changes to the brand's consumer policies and commitments are highlighted by the new 60-day guarantee, which Holden describes as “positive, proactive steps to improve every aspect of customer service and warranty work".
Having admitted to the ACCC that its conduct over complaints about a manufacturing defect possibly violated Australian consumer law, Holden moved towards the court-enforceable undertaking.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Holden conceded it misled some consumers about which party decided whether a vehicle owner would be offered a repair, replacement or refund of a car with a manufacturing defect, and that any solution was an act of goodwill.
"Holden also accepted that some consumers were told that a remedy would not be provided because the vehicle had not been serviced by a Holden dealer or with sufficient regularity, or as the vehicle was purchased second-hand," he said.
"The Australian consumer law includes consumer guarantees that provide remedies for major and minor faults in motor vehicles.
"The consumer guarantees operate separately to the manufacturer's warranty, and cannot be modified to require consumers to have their vehicles serviced by authorised dealers in order to obtain a remedy."
According to an ACCC statement, Holden has consented to rectify its consumer protection measures, including: revising its internal training and dealer policies/procedures; using an external reviewer to look at complaints since January 2016 and provide a solution to customers when necessary; and creating an information service so consumers can obtain information about any problems with a car by simply providing its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Customers have always been at the heart of Holden, but we do recognise there has been the occasional situation in the past where we could have done better, so we have been proactive in reviewing how we respond to customer issues.
Mr Sims said Holden's proposed undertaking went beyond achieving compliance with current consumer guarantee obligations, as it also committed to measures that mirror suggested alterations to the law.
"These are great commitments that will have a significant and positive impact for consumers," he said.
Holden customer experience executive director Peter Jamieson said the new 60-day guarantee backed up the company's dedication to its customers.
"Our dealer teams and the teams supporting our dealers want every customer to get the most out of their Holden vehicle," he said. "Our 60-day policy says to our customers and dealers – we stand behind our products.
"Customers have always been at the heart of Holden, but we do recognise there has been the occasional situation in the past where we could have done better, so we have been proactive in reviewing how we respond to customer issues."