Holden 'Don't Buy' Warning - ACCC Investigation Update

Holden takes toothpick to knife fight with ACCC. Motoring press still providing enthusiastic fellatio in support.

The good news for you: If you own a defective Holden, there's never been a better time to advocate for some proper customer support, for a change.

With the imminent death of the local Commodore, Holden's reputation has already taken a massive hit. Now the ACCC reveals Holden's customer treatment is among the car industry's worst

With the imminent death of the local Commodore, Holden's reputation has already taken a massive hit. Now the ACCC reveals Holden's customer treatment is among the car industry's worst

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Holden has grabbed its ankles - pre-emptively, it seems - and admitted that its customer non-support actions were built on a foundation of illegal misrepresentation, lies, deception, and general disregard for Australian Consumer Law. Who knew?

Just one week after the ACCC committed to dragging Ford into Federal Court for alleged deceptive and misrepresentational consumer conduct, Holden has basically just admitted it.

Learn more about the Australian Consumer Guarantees >>

Then, of course, the Holden bullshit delivery spin machine leapt into overdrive.

Here’s the overview of what happened, in context: Holden is of course the company that lied to you for years now over its alleged commitment to manufacturing in Australia, shamefully accepting your money - taxpayer handouts in the billions. It’s still accepting those funds, incidentally.

Reading in between the lines, Holden recently followed the advice of it arsehole lawyers, in respect of risk and reputational management, and copped on the chin the following five court-enforeceable undertakings:

Holden's Court-enforceable Customer Service Commitments

  • One - guaranteeing a refund or replacement if any new Holden craps out within 60 days of purchase, without the customer needing to prove a major failure.
  • Two - clarify in its compliance training that multiple minor failures may constitute a major failure and thus trigger the refund or replacement provisions of consumer law.
  • Three - engage an external review of all complaints since January 2016.
  • Four - modify its dealer policies to ensure they comply with the consumer guarantees.
  • Five - make data about vehicle faults available to owners on a VIN-code specific basis.
Earlier this year Euro NCAP revealed that the Mustang was a two-star safety shitheap, despite its popularity. Now the ACCC is finally acting over Ford's deplorable treatment of PowerShift transmission owners.

Earlier this year Euro NCAP revealed that the Mustang was a two-star safety shitheap, despite its popularity. Now the ACCC is finally acting over Ford's deplorable treatment of PowerShift transmission owners.

Comparison With Ford

Isn’t it interesting that Ford elected to slog it out in court while Holden just bent over at the waist in the shower? What’s the bet they were both offered the same ultimatum? Still, from my point of view it’s nice to get a bit of ACCC vindication either way - I’ve been saying don’t buy a Holden or a Ford for years now. For exactly the reasons the ACCC alleges.

My report on the ACCC's impending court action against Ford >>

Official ACCC media release on the Ford prosecution >>

In many cases I actually like the cars themselves - such as with the Colorado and Ranger. But you simply cannot expect decent support if anything goes wrong. It’s like negotiating with Hannibal Lecter - not worth the risk, despite the underlying positives with the products.

Mazda BT-50 buyer's guide >>
Mitsubishi Triton buyer's guide >>

In other cases though - such as with the PowerShit transmission from Ford (each unit individually blessed by Satan itself before leaving the factory in Hell) - the product is simply poorly made crap.

Holden also has a shameful record there, foisting upon an unsuspecting population some of the most hateful cars in the country, built in in the third-rate Former Daewoo factory in South Korea, which was so on the nose globally they had to rename it ‘GM Korea’ and hope nobody would notice.

Poor Product Quality: Exhibit A

The Holden Craptiva is obviously a shining beacon of former Daewoo shitheaps.

The Holden Craptiva remains one of the worst SUVs on Australian roads today. The dealers all know it’s a shitheap; the lies and deception continue when you inevitably present with a problem, at your wit’s end, in need of actual support.

Hyundai Santa Fe buyer's guide >>
Kia Sorento buyer's guide >>

Holden's Tsunami of Disingenuous BS

Internally, of course, the Holden bullshit spin machine is pumping like a 15-year-old in response to this ACCC incident. The unfortunate job of turning this frown upside-down apparently falls to Peter Jamieson - Holden’s executive director of customer experience. What a prick of a job, in my view.

But I’m pretty sure they had job titles like that in Abu Ghraib. I make no comment about Mr Jamieson - he’s clearly just representing the pre-approved, internally sanctioned, warped views of Holden. Mr Jamieson says:

 
“We have been very proactive – this is all about Holden leading from the front and doing what Australians expect of us. Australians have always trusted Holden and our products. We have worked with the ACCC and created these policies to improve how we look after customers.” - Holden statement
 

That’s what he allegedly said, according to Paul Maric at CarAdvice. In my view it’s just bullshit. Holden has clearly not been proactive - the company has reacted to pressure from the ACCC. This is the exact opposite of ‘proactive’.

Quote: “all about Holden leading from the front”. What a load of hyperbolic bullshit. Where else do you lead from? PS: in sales, with women, in terms of product quality, perception, customer support, Holden is far from a leader.

We might need Stephen Hawking on this: Is objective truth infinitely elastic in Port Melbourne?

Additionally, Holden has not created these policies to improve how it looks after customers. Holden has created them to avoid being dragged into court by the ACCC in the manner of Ford, and the millions in fines that are just a roll of the dice away if you do that.

When Journalism Equals Fellatio

Of course the press has been fellating Holden enthusiastically over this. (Linda Lovelace, eat your heart out - and oddly apt metaphor in the circumstances.)

This ‘BOD’ or ‘blowjob on demand’ media phenomenon is especially true in my view for the websites that depend on Holden’s advertising revenue. To cite one example of recent coverage: In a report on CarsGuide earlier this month, written in part by former [opinion:] mediocre Honda PR operative Ron Hammerton:

 
“Holden customer experience executive director Peter Jamieson said the new 60-day guarantee backed up the company's dedication to its customers.”
- CarsGuide
 

I’m moved to ask: What dedication? This entire incident hinges from Holden’s illegal, non-dedication to customers. Then of course there’s the fluff about support after the warranty expires:

 
“Reinforced by a commitment to out-of-warranty support, the guarantee is in addition to traditional warranty obligations.” - CarsGuide
 

How friggin’ out of touch are you lot?

‘Reasonable durability’ is enshrined in consumer law - goods and services must be reasonably durable. It’s a consumer guarantee in the legislation, which guarantees post-warranty support for a period equivalent to the durability expectations of a reasonable person.

More BS From Holden

The CarsGuide piece then [opinion] dribbled on, aimlessly quoting Holden’s holder of the poisoned customer service chalice, Peter Jamieson:

 
"Our dealer teams and the teams supporting our dealers want every customer to get the most out of their Holden vehicle. Our 60-day policy says to our customers and dealers – we stand behind our products.” - Holden statement
 

When was the last time the collective noun for dealers was ‘team’? Not an especially good term for mutually undercutting amoral arseholes... As for standing behind our products: actually, I think it says: We’d rather not go to court and lose.

Time for the sick bag again:

 
"Customers have always been at the heart of Holden, but we do recognise there has been the occasional situation in the past where we could have done better, so we have been proactive in reviewing how we respond to customer issues.”
- Holden statement
 

My opinion: That’s just indefensible. What mental gymnastics, exactly, are required to go from admitting flagrant, illegal non-compliance with consumer legislation - for profit - and then wrapping it up in the following bullshit sandwich (quote): “...the occasional situation in the past where we could have done better.”

If Adolf Hitler had lived, I’m tipping a close variation on that statement would have been in his re-booted manifesto.

How Holden Paints Itself Into the 'Reality Disconnect' Corner

Barina is another classic good looking heap of crap from the former Daewoo factory. Buy a Mazda2 >> instead - an infinitely better car

Barina is another classic good looking heap of crap from the former Daewoo factory. Buy a Mazda2 >> instead - an infinitely better car

These statements above, in my view, are indefensibly out of touch with reality. Presumably they’re approved right at the top, by Holden’s director of communications, Sean Poppitt. Maybe they're improved higher up.

To former aspiring motoring journalist Mr Poppitt I would say: Lift your game. The public is simply smarter than this, and it deserves better from you. Ordinary people today are entirely intolerant of meaningless platitudes. Did the Trump campaign teach you lot nothing?

Inverting reality - attempting to turn the public oxygenation of Holden’s financially motivated, shameful, long-term, illegal violation of its customers into a positive is a path to inevitable failure and humiliation in corporate communications.

Given the high acquisition cost of new business - new customers - in car sales, and the woeful loss of Holden’s market share recently, the new black in external communications should be honesty and authenticity.

To imply publicly that this sad chapter in Holden’s biography is in fact an example of Holden’s extrinsic excellence is clinically insane. People are smarter than that.

And here’s how I know honesty, integrity and authenticity are not in fact cornerstones of the Holden lexicon:

The things organisations don’t say are far more telling about them than what they do.

For example: Here’s the heartfelt open letter of apology to customers from Mark Bernhard, Holden’s chairman and managing director, published recently in all the major metro daily newspapers:

[DEAFENING SILENCE]

That’s right: there has been no sincere apology from Holden to its customers, and no undertaking to identify and un-fuck outstanding long-term poor service and support cases, thereby really wiping the slate clean and doing the right thing.

Holden is a poster-boy for the immense disconnect between buying the car, and actually owning it. Of course, in the moral universe, doing the right thing is its own reward. But there are powerful, intrinsic benefits as well.

The True Value of Customer Support

Trailblazer looks the business and is good to drive - but astute managers of risk will purchase a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport >> instead

Trailblazer looks the business and is good to drive - but astute managers of risk will purchase a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport >> instead

The easiest customer to sell a car to is the already ecstatic one. Every dollar spent striving to keep owners happy repays itself tenfold in the showroom in three to five. Replacing a defective car actually costs a carmaker bugger-all, in the context of the balance sheet.

And of course most people affluent enough to buy a new car also have a sophisticated filtration system between their ears and their brain. So there’s that.

Buying a car is a big deal for an owner. A big ticket item - a stressful decision, and usually a medium term commitment. Therefore, a problem is a likewise big deal - for the owner. But selling a car, and dealing with problems, business as usual trivialities to carmakers. Many would do much better if they simply placed themselves in the customer’s shoes.

Holden - like Ford, Jeep, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz - unfortunaltely remains too immature to join these very simple customer-retention dots. And while ever this situation pertains, Holden’s market share will continue to plummet.

My strong recommendation to you is that Holden remains a don’t buy. Unless you’re a masochist, cruising for a sadist. You never know - Holden’s balls might drop one day, but until then, forget about ‘Let’s go there’ - Holden’s real motto is ‘bend over’.

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