The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has forced Kia Motors to refund customers after it was found to have quietly changed its "maximum" scheduled service prices four times since 2012. In addition to refunding the amounts paid by consumers above the capped service prices, Kia must also introduce new systems to ensure its customers are not charged higher-than-advertised prices again.
Kia Motors Australia has agreed to amend the terms and conditions of its capped price servicing offer after the ACC found it failed to comply with consumer law. In 2012, Kia advertised capped maximum prices for scheduled vehicle servicing in promotional material. This included a promise on its website that the capped price applicable for each service was "the maximum you will pay for your scheduled service".
However, the company's terms and conditions included a disclaimer which allowed scheduled service prices to be amended at any time. The prices were changed by Kia four times since 2012. The ACCC found that this offer was likely to mislead to consumers and was therefore in contravention of Australian Consumer Law.
"Businesses that make capped price offers of this type in their advertising campaigns or represent that consumers can fix the maximum charge for particular services must ensure that these offers are not eroded by later reliance on amendment provisions in their terms and conditions which permit price changes," the ACCC explained in a statement.
In response to the ACCC's investigations, Kia has agreed to a range of provisions, including amending its terms and conditions to ensure that its service prices were genuinely capped, writing to affected consumers confirming the applicable capped service prices for their vehicle, offering to refund any amounts paid by consumers above the capped service prices and implementing a consumer law compliance program.