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Holden acts over dealership ‘misconduct’

Taking action: GM Holden is acting on what it describes as misconduct by dealership personnel who have allegedly breached its dealer agreement and code of conduct.

Breaches of dealership code of conduct confirmed by GM Holden

16 Sep 2011

GM HOLDEN has confirmed it is taking action over what it describes as misconduct by dealership personnel who have allegedly breached Holden’s dealer agreement and code of conduct.

Although Holden has not disclosed the nature of the misconduct or who is involved, GoAuto has been told the breach involves a rebate scheme for the now-defunct Holden Card – a joint Holden-Westpac Visa or Mastercard credit card loyalty system that rewards Holden customers with discounts of up to $3000 on some Holden new-car purchases.

An anonymous caller to Melbourne radio station 3AW this week claimed a Melbourne car dealership’s franchise had been terminated over alleged financial irregularities and that a Port Melbourne-based car company had given marching orders to some staff members for complicity.

One Melbourne dealership rumoured to be in breach of Holden’s code of conduct was still trading, with a showroom full of cars, when GoAuto visited this week. GoAuto has been told another Victorian dealer had sacked three members of staff over a breach.

Asked by GoAuto for details about the issue, a spokesperson for Holden said she was not in a position to go into specifics on the matter, but confirmed that Holden had uncovered misconduct.

“It's not appropriate to comment in detail, other than to say Holden will take appropriate action against those involved to ensure all stakeholders understand Holden's expectations and commitment to act with integrity at all times,” she said.

The Holden Card was promoted to Holden customers by the car company and Westpac as a way of earning discounts on various Holden models by accumulating points, similar to other credit card schemes that offer airline frequent flier point rewards for purchases.

In some cases, extra points were rewarded when the card was used for Holden goods, such as accessories, or vehicle servicing at authorised Holden dealerships.

By using the card’s credit facility to buy goods and services, a customer could earn points towards a $3000 discount on Holden’s locally made vehicles, or even Saab and Hummer vehicles when they were part of the GM Holden stable.

Lesser discounts were offered for imported Holden models, such as Captiva ($1000), Astra, Viva, Combo and Rodeo ($750) or Barina ($500).

Rule 10 of the Holden Card rules published on the Westpac website expressly forbids the pooling of points from one Holden car account to another, while Rule 11 states that rebates cannot be brokered, bartered or sold.

GoAuto has been told that these rules are at the centre of allegations, and than a GM audit team from the United States would fly in to probe dealership loyalty point transactions.

The Holden Card was discontinued in October last year, but Holden denies that move has anything to do with any impropriety. Cardholders can still claim rebates for up to five years, meaning rebates can still be activated.

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