Ford has paid penalties totalling more than $53,000 after the ACCC issued it with four infringement notices for allegedly misleading consumers about the performance features of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1, the watchdog said on Tuesday.
According to a statement from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Ford Motor Company of Australia Pty Ltd allegedly misled consumers about the Mustang’s performance features in four different versions of a brochure promoting these vehicles.
These brochure versions, the ACCC said, were published by Ford at various times between October 2020 and April 2021 on its website. The brochures were also available to consumers through its dealers and its customer relationship centre.
The ACCC said the brochures allegedly falsely outlined certain features of the Ford Mustang Mach 1. The Ford Mustang Mach 1 is a performance version of the Ford Mustang, and 700 of these vehicles were imported into Australia in 2021.
The car in question retails for more than $83,000 (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 brochures falsely represented it had: rear parking sensors, LED fog lamps, Mustang Mach 1 floor mats, ambient lighting in door pockets and Torsen limited-slip differential. Three versions of the brochure also allegedly falsely represented the car included adaptive cruise control, when in fact it has regular cruise control, the ACCC said.
Ford has paid the $53,280 in penalties, but in addition, the ACCC said Ford agreed to provide an improved compensation offer to consumers who bought the car.
Sims said the ACCC began investigating this issue after a number of consumers complained to about the Mustang Mach 1 brochures.
As explained by the watchdog, 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.
Almost all vehicles were purchased before 17 August 2021.
But, those who bought their car 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 ACCC says.
A Ford spokesperson clarified a few of the issues raised by the ACCC and told Gizmodo Australia that it feels disappointed that it let customers down.
“There are always small specification differences between left-hand drive and right-hand drive Mustangs. Not recognising a few of these differences specific to the Mach 1 – features that were never available to us – was an oversight by us as the local team. We didn’t catch these differences before the first rounds of brochures and the website were published, and for this, we are really sorry,” they said.
“We are especially disappointed that our loyal and engaged Ford customers and Mach 1 owners feel let down.”
The spokesperson also told us that the local arm of Ford has undertaken a review of how the errors came to be made and implemented preventative measures to seek to ensure that the process causes leading to the errors are not repeated in future.
This post has been updated since it was first published and now includes comment from Ford Australia.