ACCC warns caravan industry not to mislead consumers over weight

Published: October 16, 2023

The ACCC is warning the caravan industry that the use of misleading representations in advertising is in breach of the Australian Consumer Law and may result in strong enforcement action being taken against retailers.

The consumer watchdog says it recently identified an example involving ‘price certainty’ representations in which a small retailer told a number of customers that the price of the caravan they ordered was fixed, but subsequently sought to increase the price (while also giving the customer an alternative option to cancel the contract).

Another example of concern to the ACCC involved allegedly false or misleading representations regarding caravan weights, which were not thought to be accurate.

The warnings follow ACCC investigations into the practices of several caravan retailers, and commitments from two smaller caravan retailers to improve disclosures to consumers and compliance with the Australian Consumer Law.

“Businesses must not mislead consumers about prices or contractual terms relating to pricing,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said. “Businesses must also ensure they do not mislead consumers about important features of a product, such as the weight, or tonnage, of a caravan.”

She said the ACCC was concerned that several small and mid-sized caravan retailers may be failing to comply with their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, and said it would continue to investigate complaints and engage with retailers and caravan manufacturers to ensure compliance.

“It’s important that businesses of all sizes appreciate they have the same obligations to consumers under the Australian Consumer Law as large retailers,” she said.

The ACCC’s investigations follow issues in relation to the treatment of consumers and compliance with consumer law identified in the ACCC’s New caravan retailing report.

“Caravans are significant purchases for consumers and when things go wrong the harm can be significant,” Ms Carver said. “We received several complaints from consumers regarding caravans and carefully investigated the issues raised with us,”

The ACCC raised concerns with one smaller caravan retailer about price certainty representations, including where the price had subsequently been increased, and the retailer has now formally committed to not increase prices for relevant consumers.

The retailer has also removed these representations from its website and marketing materials, and committed to arrange training for its staff to improve compliance with the ACL.

The ACCC said it also engaged with another caravan retailer after concerns that the retailer was representing that the advertised weights of its caravans were the precise weights, when for some caravans they were only an estimated reference weight for similar caravans.

Misrepresentations of caravan weights can cause additional costs for consumers who may have to buy a more powerful towing vehicle, and may pose a safety risk if they unknowingly exceed safe towing limits.

The caravan retailer involved has committed to updating website material and developing improved guidance and processes to disclose key caravan weight information to consumers before sale, as well as providing options where actual caravan weights differ from caravan weight estimates.

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Well they are wrong about the manufactures being small , I’ve found just about every brand has got the Tare wrong from the start!!

Spot on

Typical consumer regulator. Smack the offender on the wrist, get a promise that they won’t do it again, laud about how well they’re protecting consumers. The ACCC is a joke and no one is scared of them because they don’t do anything of significance.

Well said. This just backsup our personnel experience dealing with the ACCC on caravan matters. They are a toothless tiger

Last edited 7 months ago by Rob

Totally agree…ACCC are indeed “toothless” which is why the shonky caravan industry continues to ignore them!

I agree
A smack on the hand with a wet lettuce does no5hing

We had to sell our Ute due to weights.

I had a suspension upgrade done to our Toyota LC200 as the basic suspension only allowed for about 300kg when doing a big trip. Then had the whole rig professionally weighed empty. Data from van suspension manufacturer indicated compliance plate on van was wrong resulting in van had to be re-certified which was no great issue
Weighed every item in the van. Now I know how much weight we take on trips which leaves us under the ATM and GTM with approx. 200kg to spare.

You no doubt are aware that an LC200 “suspension upgrade” does nothing to solve the problem of stupidly light rear axle? An LC200 cannot SAFELY tow much more than about 3000kg ATM. Sad but true.

Waiting for a new vehicle so it can comply with the towball download.

The ACCC is just ANOTHER usless government body ,all talk ,no action

They are useless and should be made to take action on every issue they find is in breach of legislation

As they now stand they are a waste of taxpayer’s money

Another area of concern is the way some caravan manufacturers handle warranty clams, they get the caravan owner to deal directly with the parts supplier rather than become involved themselves.

Caravans should have a weigh bridge certificate when sold to ensure they are 100% accurate, that would solve the problem and stop this dodgy practice by manufacture’s and dealers.

Good point.
We had to buy a Tyota Land cruiser V8 to comply for the van that we bought, as the vehcle we had was compliant, which was not.
It could not pull it up steep grades.

What a good idea, how hard would that be!

Weighbridge tickets have a very broad tolerance of accuracy. They are designed for large trucks. The four pad weight machines that come to you are more accurate.
I wonder why caravan manufacturers can’t put each van they build over a set of these. Small investment for proof of accuracy ?

Yep, it sounds the same as the kids stealing the cars, or breaking into homes; charged and let out the next morning. Is there someone at the helm of our government or are the all zzzzzz?

Vehicle manufacturers who make large RVs should make their towing capacity right for the modern caravan. Caravans should also be made right, make all the RVs 5t towing capacity.

One of the big problems is that caravans are issued with compliance plates which may or may not be accurate at purchase, when second hand the issue is compounded when owners add extras on post initial purchase so that empty they are not the designated TARE weight and unsuspecting buyers get caught. Only solution is to require ALL Caravan sellers to have a weight ticket with rego. Pain I know but safest for seller and purchaser , like a roadworthy on cars.
We had to have a caravan recomplied through an engineer because our plate was way out. Probably never was correct because previous owners changed their car ( thinking that would solve the prob) so they could tow. We fixed the plate and had to sell the van because our Prado couldn’t legally tow it.

Please note the ACCC IS NOT Caravan association – it’s the government agency for all dodgy consumer deals.

Considering we are a very large % of the population we should be able to bring these manufacturers to task – if the ACCC is useless we should all band together and use every means out there to get some consequences for the manufacturers conceited attitude towards their customers! Any suggestions?

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