The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has today instituted Federal Court proceedings against Honda Australia Pty Ltd (Honda) for making false or misleading representations to consumers about two former authorised Honda dealerships, Brighton Automotive Holdings Pty Ltd (Astoria) in Victoria and Tynan Motors Pty Ltd (Tynan) in NSW.
The ACCC alleges that between January 2021 and June 2021, Honda represented to customers of Astoria and Tynan that the dealerships would close or had closed and would no longer service Honda vehicles.
In fact, the franchise agreements with Astoria and Tynan had been terminated after Honda’s decision to move to an ‘agency’ retail model but both of these businesses were continuing to trade independently and were continuing to service vehicles, including Hondas.
“While Astoria and Tynan were no longer a Honda franchisee, they remained open as independent dealerships and were able to service Honda vehicles,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
The ACCC alleges that:
- in emails, text messages and phone conversations, Honda informed Astoria and Tynan customers that these businesses had closed and directed customers to contact a Honda dealership or Honda Service Centre to book their next service;
- Honda deprived customers of the opportunity to make an informed choice about options for servicing their car in favour of a Honda-linked dealership which may have been less convenient or more costly for them; and
- Honda caused harm to the Astoria and Tynan businesses, by falsely claiming they had closed or would close, which may have led customers to have their Honda vehicles serviced elsewhere.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties and costs.
The legal action against Honda follows a series of legal proceedings commenced by HWL Ebsworth Lawyers on behalf of Astoria and Tynan against Honda. The proceeding against Honda arising out of Honda’s wrongful termination of Astoria and Tynan’s Honda dealerships is ongoing.
This article was written by Evan Stents, Partner.