VACC slams misguided ABC report on towing and panel repairs

Melbourne, 6 November – Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, has criticised an ABC report televised on 5 November that unfairly depicted vehicle body repairers and towing operators as working in alliance to overcharge customers for vehicle repairs.

VACC finds it interesting that the report also coincided with the public hearings for the review of towing regulations in Victoria, a report that has also unfairly focused too much on the role of the panel beating industry. The review was supposed to be about towing regulation and not about how people had their cars repaired.

The Consumer Action Law Centre’s use of the term ‘car napping’ is alarming and suggests that towing operators and panel beaters were focused on undertaking captive repairs when in fact they were simply trying to repair cars correctly and to manufacturers’ specifications.

VACC says vehicle body repairers are under immense pressure to carry out repairs cheaply and, in some cases, not to the same quality repairers would normally apply.

This pressure on repairer costs has been driven by vehicle insurers trying to reduce the cost of insurance cover which, in turn, is driven through to the repairer who has to repair cars more quickly and cheaply. Even though insurance premiums have fallen over recent years and insurance companies’ profits have risen, the pressure on the panel industry continues.

The use of contracts that enable a solicitor to work on behalf of a repairer, and the not-at-fault driver, means the repairer can repair a car to the highest standard and back to manufacturers’ specifications.

The notion that towing operators tout for repairs on the side of the road is misleading as touting by towing operators at an accident is illegal. VACC is not aware of any prosecutions for this offence in Victoria. 

VACC calls for solid data to back some of the spurious claims made in the ABC’s report on the basis that ill-informed rhetoric is damaging to the industry and, potentially, to individuals. 

VACC will be delivering its submission into Accident Towing Regulations to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) on 13 November with a view to ensuring a balanced and informed view is generated on this issue.

“I remind all stakeholders, especially the ESC, that the review is into Accident Towing Regulations, not the crash repair industry, and that all efforts should be made to bring about good working solutions to ensure that motorists continue to receive valuable and professional towing services,” Mr Gwilym said.

VACC is Victoria’s peak automotive industry body representing more than 5,000 small business members

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VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym
VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, says the ABC report incorrectly depicted vehicle body repairers and towing operators as working in alliance