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Opel customer calls for price-cut class action

Not-so-hot hatch: Mark Bertolini says his Opel Astra GTC Sports has lost more than half its value in the months since the German premium brand’s collapse in Australia.

An angry Opel customer claims his car’s value fell 55 percent in months

Opel logo9 Dec 2013

AN OPEL customer has called for a class action against the failed German premium brand to recover costs after the value of his Astra plunged by more than half.

Perth-based Mark Bertolini told GoAuto he had bought a $37,000 Opel Astra GTC Sport performance hatchback in July this year only to have the car “orphaned weeks later”, even after asking the dealer if the brand was here for the long haul.

Mr Bertolini said he visited a Holden dealer last week to have the vehicle appraised, and was told that even with only 5000km on the odometer and within three months of the brand’s collapse, his vehicle was only worth $17,000 – a fall in value of about 55 per cent.

“That is obscene,” Mr Bertolini said. “It’s nice the dealers got compensated, (but) what about customers? “I don’t think most Opel owners realise the destruction in resale values that their cars have experienced. Class actions should be started by customers.” Holden revealed last week that it would start selling off Opel-badged cars landlocked after the brand spectacularly collapsed in August after almost 12 months into an ambitious plan to compete with Volkswagen in the premium small- and medium-car class.

A quick search online shows Holden dealers, who are disposing of about 600 leftover Opel-badged cars, shows that they are selling off brand-new Astra GTC Sports – the same as Mr Bertolini’s car – for about $29,000, or an $8000 discount on the vehicle’s list price before accounting for on-road costs.

Other big discounts on offer include $52,000 drive-away for the formerly $64,685 before on-roads all-wheel-drive Opel Insignia OPC Sports performance sedan, $16,000 drive-away for a six-speed automatic Opel Corsa Enjoy 1.4-litre originally worth $24,685, and as little as $36,000 drive-away for a seven-seat diesel-engined Opel Zafira people-mover, originally worth $47,685 before on-roads.

Meanwhile, private sellers who have not realised the impact that Opel’s failure has had on the brand’s residual value are trying to sell off second-hand vehicles for more than the current new-car price.

Holden national manager of product communications Kate Lonsdale told GoAuto that Opel customers had bought “excellent vehicles at competitive prices, and Opel’s obligations to its customers “remains fulfilled”.

“We (Holden) honour all the capped-price servicing, warranty, roadside assistance commitments totally in full,” she said.

“Moreover, customers can be serviced and supported by the extensive Holden network nationally than the more limited Opel network.

“There have been a couple of inquiries (from Opel customers asking about resale values) but they’ve been very limited,” she said.

Ms Lonsdale said like most car-makers, Opel “never offered a guarantee on resale value”.

“In a few cases where they’ve raised it with Opel we’ve advised customers that it is not in a position to guarantee resale value, and that is as far as it’s gone really.”

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