Ford pays for allegedly misleading Mustang buyers

Ford Motor Company of Australia has paid penalties totalling $53,280 after the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued it with four infringement notices for allegedly misleading consumers about the performance features of the 2021 Mustang Mach 1. The allegations relate to four versions of brochures promoting these vehicles, which were published by Ford.

According to the ACCC, at various times between October 2020 and April 2021, Ford published on its website four versions of a brochure that allegedly falsely outlined certain features of Mustang Mach 1. The brochures were also available to consumers through Ford dealers and its Customer Relationship Centre.

Mustang Mach 1 retails for more than $83,000, which is significantly more expensive than the standard Mustang.

“We allege Ford made serious mistakes in its brochures outlining the features of the more expensive Mustang Mach 1, resulting in false claims being made to consumers in breach of the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“The performance characteristics of the Ford Mustang Mach 1 were an important selling point, so these claims about key features of the Mach 1 vehicle may have led some consumers to buy the car who may otherwise have opted to purchase another vehicle.”

The ACCC alleges the Mustang Mach 1 brochures falsely represented it had the following features, which it does not possess:

  • Rear parking sensors
  • LED fog lamps
  • Mustang Mach 1 floor mats
  • Ambient lighting in door pockets
  • Torsen limited-slip differential

Three versions of the brochure also allegedly falsely represented Mustang Mach 1 included adaptive cruise control, when it has regular cruise control.

The ACCC said in addition to paying the penalties specified in the infringement notices, Ford agreed to provide an improved compensation offer to consumers who bought a Mustang Mach 1.

“We began investigating this issue after a number of consumers complained to us about the Mustang Mach 1 brochures and, as a result of ACCC intervention, Ford improved its compensation offer to hundreds of affected consumers,” Sims said.

Under Ford’s compensation offer, consumers who bought a Mustang Mach 1 before 17 August 2021 can choose between two options: returning their vehicle and receiving a full refund, or receiving $5,400 compensation, as well as three years of free scheduled servicing and a track day experience at a Supercars event featuring, among others, admission to the event and a ride in one of Ford’s race cars.

The ACCC said almost all Mustang Mach 1 vehicles were purchased before 17 August 2021.

Consumers who bought their Mustang Mach 1 after 16 August 2021 are eligible for the compensation, servicing and track day but do not have the option of returning the vehicle for a full refund under Ford’s compensation offer. 

Ford removed the incorrect information from the brochures in April 2021 and began contacting buyers of the Mustang Mach 1 to offer compensation soon after. The compensation offer was finalised in August 2021, following ACCC intervention.

According to the ACCC, payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law, which also sets the penalty amount.

The ACCC can issue an infringement notice when it has reasonable grounds to believe a person or business has contravened certain consumer protection provisions in the Australian Consumer Law.

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