The Full Federal Court has dismissed appeals from both the ACCC and Mazda Australia relating to the years-long case over complaints from several Mazda customers seeking refunds or replacement vehicles.
In October 2019, the ACCC took Mazda to court over alleged “unconscionable conduct” and “false and misleading representations in its dealings with consumers”.
The ACCC alleges that, as an example, “Mazda offered to refund only a fraction of the car’s purchase price, or offered a replacement car only at a significant cost to the consumer”.
That came after complaints of vehicles were taken to Mazda dealers multiple times to address faults, including one car claimed to be out of action for four months.
The court has since ruled that Mazda “did not engage in unconscionable conduct” with nine consumers, but that it did “mislead and deceive” the customers.
The ACCC appealed against the former ruling, while Mazda against the second.
Both appeals were dismissed, with the earlier ruling upheld.
“We appealed this case because we believe that it is not acceptable business practice for businesses to give consumers the 'run around' and discourage consumers from pursuing their rights for a refund or replacement vehicle,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said in a statement published after the dismissal.
The ACCC says the case will go back to the trial judge “for a hearing at a later date on the penalties and other orders sought by the ACCC”.
A statement from Mazda Australia expresses mixed feelings about the outcomes of the rulings.
"Mazda is pleased that the Federal Court by majority has upheld Justice O’Callaghan’s finding that it did not engage in unconscionable conduct," a spokesperson told CarsGuide.
"This decision is an acknowledgment that Mazda acted within the law and that Mazda was, and remains committed to ensuring that its customers are treated fairly within the law.
"We are disappointed that the Court upheld Justice O’Callaghan’s finding that it engaged in misleading conduct and are carefully reviewing the Court’s decision in that regard."
The cars the case relates to include a Mazda2, Mazda6, two CX-5 SUVs, a CX-3, and a BT-50, purchased between 2013-2017.