CHOICE:Publicity Junkies Go after Car Industry Over Bluetooth Complaints

Written by David Richards     14/03/2016 | 10:08 | Category: INDUSTRY

Choice, the consumer mob, who love publicity stunts, in an effort to drive subscriptions is at it again, this time claiming that "more than two-thirds of the new cars sold in Australia cause problems for their owners inside five years" because of issue such as car electronic problems.

CHOICE:Publicity Junkies Go after Car Industry Over Bluetooth Complaints
Choice claims that the three biggest problem brands are Holden, Ford in the mass market and Audi in the luxury car market. 

This is the same mob that crushed a Samsung washing machine, despite both Samsung and the Australian Competition + Consumer Commission mounting major national awareness campaigns highlighting problems associated with the Samsung product.  

Now the consumer group claim that car electronics systems are the cause of 21% of problems, they have singled out Bluetooth as a major contributor for complaints. 

However, a survey of two BMW dealers 2 Holden dealers a Ford dealer and a Mazda dealer by SmartHouse reveal that in a lot of cases the Bluetooth complaint is primarily from people who have purchased a new smartphone and don't know how to pair their new device with their motor vehicle. 

A BMW Sydney executive said "It happens all the time especially with older customers. They buy a new car it's paired with an existing smartphone and then a year or so later they go out and buy a new mobile only to find that they don't know how to pair it with their motor vehicle". 

A North Shore Ford dealer said "A lot of people where English is not their first language struggle to understand manuals, for them re connecting a Bluetooth device to their car whether it be a music device or smartphone is difficult so they come to us for help".  

While 21 per cent of complaints are attributed to electronics, 15 per cent are attributed to engine problems. They include interior blemishes and faulty batteries through to what Choice odometer fraud.

According to NSW Police most odometer fraud cases involve older vehicle not new vehicles. 

Choice claim that they want to see more protection for new-car buyers.

"While the majority of these issues were minor, 14 per cent of new-car owners faced major problems that either caused the car to stop working or seriously impaired the operation of the car," says Alan Kirkland, the CEO of Choice. 

Choice claim that Toyota one of the biggest automotive brands in Australia had problems in 50 per cent of cars in their survey. 

Choice who love to create drama and conflict in an effort to publicity for themselves also claim that they are concerned by the number of owners who are required to sign confidentiality agreements to get their cars repaired.

"This research shows that car companies are trying to cover up the scale of problems with new cars by forcing consumers to sign nondisclosure agreements in order to get problems fixed," says Kirkland.

It's ironic that over the past 25 years I have purchased several new cars including both Audi, BMW and for my daughter a Toyota. Never have I been asked to sign a confidentiality clause relating to repairs. 

According to the Daily Telegraph the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which represents car companies, disputes the claims.

"New-car buyers in Australia are protected by some of the longest warranties in the world and competition in the market means that FCAI members have an imperative to give support," says FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber.

"This is inconsistent with what we saw last year in a consumer survey in Queensland. They had very few people come forward. This sort of analysis is useless unless the undermining research is able to determine the cause."

But CHOICE says 15 per cent of people with problems were unable to resolve them, a number which is slightly higher for women.

"While some companies are doing the right thing, others are treating consumers' statutory rights to replacements, refunds or repairs as an optional extra," says Kirkland.

Brand - percentage with problems:

Holden - 68%

Ford - 65%

Audi - 62%

Hyundai, Jeep, Nissan, Volkswagen - 61%

BMW - 57%

Mitsubishi - 55%

Kia - 54%

Subaru - 53%

Suzuki - 51%

Toyota - 50%

Honda - 49%

Mazda 44 %

Problem areas:

In-car technology (Bluetooth connectivity) - 21%

Battery/electrical - 20%

Car interior - 20%

Engine - 15%

Tyres/wheels/suspension - 14%

Brakes - 11%

Bodywork/exteriors - 11%

Gears - 9%

Clutch - 6%

Exhaust - 4%

Odometer fraud - 2%