Camper Van Holiday Rentals - Bad Condition but Rental Company Denying Refund

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19 February 2015

I'm from Germany and spend my holiday in Australia last year. We hired two campers from a big Australian company for 8 and 28 days, 36 days in total. During our trip, we had a lot of problems with those campers:

1. Hire, Darwin, 8 days
- Interior not cleaned, rubbish in bed
- Build in stove with two flames not usable, replaced by one with one flame
- Battery has only reduced capacity, therefore fridge is not running reliable
- Worktop from outside kitchen falls out during driving (not roadworthy)
- Headlight lenses are both milky, no sight when driving at night (not roadworthy)

2. Hire, Perth, 28 days
- Delay when providing the camper at pickup in Perth (half day)
- Delay when returning the camper in Sydney (quarter day)
- When demanding help in the branch in Adelaide, we had been put of for one day and then left with no solution
- They forgot to fill up the gas, so we had been standing in the outback without gas
- Interior was extremely dirty, even the walls.
- Build in stove with two flames not usable, replaced by one with one flame
- Cupboard doors could not be locked during driving. One is breaking of completely
- When it's raining, water runs through the air condition inside the camper, wetting pillows and foodstuffs
- Co-Driver's door did not shut completely. It is extremely noisy in drivers cabin
- Both Seat belts did not roll up (not roadworthy)
- Central locking defective. Doors lock and unlock without been triggered by remote control
- Roof of the camper, which must be opened for camping and closed for driving can not be closed without climbing on the engine hood (8 days)

As you can see, there was not one big problem, but the sum of all the slam ones spoiled our holiday. Now the holiday rentals company wants to refund less than 10% of the price only.

My questions:
a) How much refund can we expect? In Germany courts have lists for travel deficiencies (example: -5% if hotel room is too small).
b) What can we do to pressure them beside taking them to the court (ombudsman, customer services) under Australian Consumer Law?

Thank you for your help.


Well-Known Member
10 February 2015
Hi Fred73,

I'm sorry that you had such a bad experience with the company. That sounds awful!
Australian Consumer Law is the Federal (Australia wide) law that regulates this type of situation.

You might finds this consumer guide for rental cars to be a useful starting point:

There are at least three (potentially more) consumer guarantees that it appears your hire company may have breached:
1. Suppliers and manufacturers guarantee that motor vehicles are of acceptable quality
2. A supplier guarantees that motor vehicles will be reasonably fit for any purpose the consumer or supplier has specified
3. Suppliers and manufacturers guarantee that their description of motor vehicles (for example, in a brochure or television commercial) is accurate

You may be eligible for compensation on the basis of these breaches.

I would start by contacting the Consumer law authorities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia and asking their advice: The Australian Consumer Law - Questions & Complaints - Northern Territory
The Australian Consumer Law - Questions & Complaints - Western Australia

The list of contacts is also at the bottom of the pdf about rental cars that I linked above.

I hope that helps.

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi Fred73,

I agree with Ivy that you may be protected under Australian Consumer Law (ACL). This is a good introduction on ACL and statutory guarantees (which are implied promises that every business must adhere to when selling or providing services to consumers): "Australian Consumer Law Guarantees - How Can They Protect You?"

In which Australian state did you rent the caravan (i.e. where is the business located)? Each state and territory in Australia has its own government body that deals with ACL complaints and enquiries. You can find the state specific contact department details here: "Consumer and the ACL contact". I suggest calling the relevant body up, enquiring about your situation and lodging a complaint. The complaint process if free and the body will contact the business and assist you in coming to a reasonable resolution with the business. You may be entitled to compensation for any breach of the statutory guarantees under ACL (which includes refunds), so call up the body and enquire about this.

Hope this goes well and let us know how you go with the ACL government body.

John R

Well-Known Member
14 April 2014
Hi @Fred73
Camper Van Hire Business
Who was the camper van hire business? They may have listed compensation credit terms in their service agreement.

Complaint Process
  1. If you believe that you have grounds for your complaint under Australian Consumer Law per @Ivy and @Sarah J's earlier comments, consider writing a complaint to the camper van hire business.
  2. Your complaint letter should set out the factual summary of the events to date (similar to what you have written above but with clear headings, checked for spelling, etc.) and a request for the business to compensate you with a partial refund, etc. The WA Department of Commerce Consumer complaint checklist page has sample letters and further information that may assist.
  3. If you do not receive a satisfactory resolution to your complaint from the business within a reasonable timeframe, you can submit a formal complaint online to the WA Department of Commerce and NT Consumer Affairs for investigation.
Hope this helps. Please keep us updated with your progress.
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Well-Known Member
11 July 2014
Hi Fred73

Let me also say I'm sorry this detracted from your holiday downunder, it's a real shame they didn't give you an ok service

As John R suggests in his steps 1-3 under 'Complaint Process', it's important that you first contact the business directly (step 1) and set out your complaint in detail in a letter (step 2), before contacting the relevant consumer law authority or authorities (step 3).

There are at least two reasons for this. If you go directly to step 3, it is very likely that the consumer law authority will ask you to do steps 1 and 2 anyway since they want to be assured you have exhausted other avenues before they give your matter any attention. Second, the letter you send to the business in step 2 can be used in step 3 to set out your situation in full to the relevant consumer law authority, saving you time in that phase of the complaint process.

Best of luck with this, and please keep us posted with developments


19 February 2015
let me say thank you for your helpfull advice. I'll look into this now and keep you updated about the progress. Because of other priorities in my life, this may take some time.
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