Toyota has been busted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for making false claims about leather seats across several car ranges sold between 2005 and 2009. They were in fact partial or faux leather.
“The ACCC was concerned that consumers were likely to have been misled by these claims. If consumers are prepared to pay a premium to have quality finishes for their car interiors, they are entitled to get what they paid for,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
Toyota issued a statement today apologising to customers: “Toyota Australia acknowledges the statement from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. We apologise if any customer felt they were misled as a result of our advertising.”
The vehicles involved in the investigation were sold between 2005 and 2009 and include variants of the Aurion, Camry, Kluger and Prado -- about 98,500 vehicles, the car maker says.
“In most cases everything that people sit on or touch is genuine leather in the affected vehicle models,” the statement said. “The areas where synthetic material is used are those that are more prone to wear and tear, such as the back of the seat and door trim. This helps make the areas easier to clean and wear more consistently.”
Toyota says that as soon as it became aware of the issue it changed advertising to ‘leather accent’ or ‘leather accented’. “This change was made to indicate that the interior was a combination of genuine leather and synthetic material,” the company said.
Toyota says impacted customers will receive $200 off the purchase price of their next Toyota vehicle – but only if they ask. It has set up a hotline to organise a voucher: 1800 869 682.
"It is important consumers are not misled on any feature of a car," AAA executive director Andrew McKellar said. "We welcome the fact the ACCC has hauled them into line on this. I doubt this is a unique instance and should send a strong signal to all brands".
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling