Rocket Rod Sims and his Justice League team: Lois Lane (played by Commissioner Anna Brakey); Princess Diana of Themyscira aka Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman (Deputy chair Delia Rickard) and Cyborg aka Victor Stone (Deputy chair Mick Keogh) recalled the Bubs Warehouse’s Tummy Time Water Inflatable Development Mat because, wait for it, “the product does not contain the relevant safety warning labels”.
Meanwhile, the 93,572 owners of Hyundai Tuscons that are prone to spontaneously combust in the manner of the burning bush described in the Book of Exodus (which as it turns out wasn’t written by Moses aka Moshe Rabbenu but happy birthday anyway big boy-1571 BCE) but unlike the thorn bush, which is not hurt by the flames, they actually burn to the ground, are told to sit tight.
Our own (Daily Telegraph) John Rolfe and (news.com.au) Ben Graham tell us the Korean owner of Hyundai, Genesis and 33 per cent of Kia have been telling anxious owners of recalled Tucsons as late as last week, that none have caught fire in Australia — despite two Hyundai owners saying their SUVs suddenly burst into flames. Oh, and Hyundai told USA Today in January “it was aware of a dozen fires but no injuries related to the recalled vehicles”.
“Just a few days before the (ACCC) warning went out, a NSW couple’s Tuscon is suspected of igniting (catching fire like the Rubus ulmifolius subsp. Sanctus, Moshe told us about) while switched off in their garage at 2am”, they write. Richard and Judy Edwards managed to flee their burning home in the early hours, but the blaze took a devastating toll with the fire destroying their home and possessions. Unfortunately, their contents insurance had expired, much like the Tuscon.
And aren’t the Justice League on to it! “Affected vehicles need to be parked in an open space and away from flammable materials and structures, i.e. not in a garage” the ACCC website tells us.
If you’re driving along with your partner in the front, the kids and dogs in the back and up goes the car in flames, tough luck. But here’s the thing, the Tuscon can catch fire while you and your kids are in it. For instance, Melbourne Tucson owner Zane Lewis-Hamilton said his 2018 model caught fire when he tried to take his nephew to school.
And then there’s the Range Rover. Which one? Readers in the UK voted the Range Rover Velar and Sport among the most unreliable cars available in soapdodger land. “Our latest survey reveals that the Sport version of the Range Rover is particularly prone to faults. An alarmingly high 46 per cent of owners — with a Sport that is less than three years old, mind — had at least one problem that needed a professional to fix in the year before our reliability survey. That’s exactly twice the average fault rate for cars this young”.
Well, you don’t need to tell Tony Waters about that!
Tony and Sue Waters decided to make the big jump from their trusted Ford Territory to a Range Rover. They went around the corner to Concord Land Rover (part of the Sutton family group, which also sells blaze-ready Hyundai Tuscons) ready to deal.
Unfortunately, the dealer didn’t have the model the couple lusted after, but, in the best traditions of the trade, told them to put down a deposit and they could have one that would be coming in soon. Turns out (who would have thought?) Concord Land Rover sold the same car twice so stiff shovel T&S! Anyway, they eventually drove out of the showroom three months later with a 2015-build Range Rover in 2016.
Things didn’t go as well as hoped. On my estimate from Range Rover’s own records, Tony, Sue and the three kids called the Range Rover assistance line over 10 times to get the SUV towed back to the dealer because it had stopped and wouldn’t start. Range Rover and Jaguar are owned by Tata whose motto is (of course): “To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally, through long-term stakeholder value creation based on Leadership with Trust”. I bet safety is their top priority, they are customer centric, they love trees and anything green, their people are their greatest asset and they are agile.
Look let’s forget the history of appalling treatment they got from the dealer and Range Rover HQ over five years and fast forward to the start of March.
“Last Friday, after picking my 2015 Range Rover Sport from Concord Land Rover after three weeks in their service centre (don’t ask why it will only make you cry) I was driving down to southern NSW from Sydney Friday night when the oil lamp came on.
The temperature gauge was fine, the next servo was only 5km away, so I kept driving. Then I saw smoke coming out the back of the car I pulled over to the curb. The car stopped, I jumped out, as it caught fire and burst into flames.
An unmarked police car stopped, the three of them jumped out and emptied an extinguisher on the Range Rover but it burnt to the ground in three minutes.”
Fortunately, Tony didn’t have Sue and the three kids in the car. Fortunately, he didn’t get to Pheasants Nest servo, a major truck stop and fortunately he got out before the car was fully alight.
Dr Google will tell you all the stuff the Range Rover and Concord Land Rover website doesn’t. Search away on the RR site but I bet you don’t find that late last year in Ireland Jaguar and Land Rover issued a set of recalls that affected 5121 diesel and 124 petrol Jags and RRs, primarily on defects that could cause fires. Or that unless you have deep pockets your rights under consumer law mean nothing when it comes to Jaguar Land Rover Australia (JLRA).
Take the case of Victoria’s Sally Morphy, who took delivery of a new Range Rover Auto-biography in 2016 for $235,000. Sally had an independent engineer look over the car and he said there was a risk of “sudden and catastrophic engine failure”.
The Victorian Consumer Affairs Tribunal found the failures “rendered the car unfit for its basic purpose — that is to be driven on or off roads, let alone for any purpose such goods are commonly put to”. Sally was awarded a record $283,000 refund. Good result except Sally had to try to recoup her legal costs of $134,000. She did. Dr Google will show you more, including how JLRA tries to use gag orders to shut up complaining customers.
Rocket Rod and the Justice League usually do a good job. But things need to change so that they can ban dangerous lemons like the Range Rover from the road altogether and stop JLRA dealers using the courts to make it too expensive for owners to try and get redress.
Of course, we asked JLRA and Concord Land Rover for a comment. As of writing, nothing from the dealer but representative Jimmy Scrimshaw from Land Rover wrote back to say: “Thank you for making contact with us regarding this very serious matter. We are investing (sic) exactly what has occurred, as our valued customer’s welfare is of critical importance to us. We will be handling this matter directly with the customer and will not be making any public comment.”
Tony, Sue and the kids have not heard from Jimmy or the company.
Footnote: In Australia responsibility for recalls sits with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. The department assists the ACCC with vehicle safety issues, and provides technical advice regarding vehicle safety.