Cost of regulation

17 November 2023

We currently have an argument that appears every few years, calling for a car ombudsman to deal with complaints against licensed motor car traders in Victoria. 

Each time this argument raises its head, VACC reminds governments and consumer advocacy groups that there is already a range of remedies available for consumers if they’re unsatisfied with products and services, or lack thereof.

Remedies include engaging with the dealer directly, applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), applying Australian Consumer Law, or making a claim against the Motor Car Traders Fund. 

Consumer advocates say this isn’t enough.

VACC argues that adding more bureaucracy and public cost to an addition level of complaints management will just duplicate what the existing regulatory arrangements provide. 

More regulations would simply have consumers running from pillar to post.

In discussions with stakeholders on this matter, VACC maintains that if VCAT and other organisations do not have the resources to meet consumer demands, the government should fund them properly so they can do their job. 

Maybe the government should redirect funding from consumer advocacy groups to places like VCAT?

If the layers of regulation make it more precarious for a licensed motor car trader to buy and sell cars then it’s possible used car prices would plummet when the government announces a new car complaints ombudsman. 

That’s money out of your pocket.

And what about the majority of used car sales occurring from consumer to consumer? Who is policing the many problems that occur in that market?

Words: VACC CEO Geoff Gwilym. As published in the Herald Sun, 17 November 2023.

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