Lemon Caravans founder facing legal action

Article by · June 3, 2017 ·

The founder of a social media website that names and shames alleged “lemon” caravan manufacturers and dealers says she’s being sued for defamation. Queenslander Tracy Leigh set up a page described as a support group for people who’ve bought faulty caravans or experienced poor service from dealers. Ms Leigh was driven by her own experience, having bought a Lotus Freelander caravan in 2015 and allegedly finding it riddled with defects.

Now Ms Leigh says Lotus is suing her for defamation after she detailed the alleged problems on the Facebook page.   She says she will contest the case and is being assisted by a major legal firm.  Supporters of her page have already raised over $4000 towards her expected legal bill, she says.

The Lemon site has also been criticised by a major Sydney dealer who claims his business has been listed on its “buyer beware” list, without anyone checking his side of the story first. “To this point I feel that this site should largely be discredited as they really seem more interested in people having a whinge or witch hunt, rather than to providing genuine information to assist the consumer in making an informed decision,” says the dealer, who asked not to be named.

However Ms Leigh says no business would be placed on her “buyer beware” list with only one complaint. “I try my best to investigate all claims properly and get good quality evidence and I welcome contact from any caravan dealer who wants to resolve an issue,” she says. Ms Leigh says several manufacturers and dealers have responded positively by contacting unhappy customers and settling outstanding complaints.   In one instance a manufacturer had promised to replace a caravan. She says the firms have subsequently been taken off the “buyer beware” list.

Ms Leigh says she’s now looking to prepare a legally-binding “Customer Service Guarantee” for dealers to sign up to, giving caravan buyers confidence they have some certainty should there be any faults or service problems. “I’ve already had a positive response from dealers interested in this.  It will be an enforceable contract, ensuring those who sign up will abide by consumer laws.”

This article originally appeared in issue 26 of ROAM magazine – to get the most trustworthy caravan reviews, subscribe here.

Update, December 14, 2017 – Lotus Caravans has since dropped legal action against Ms Leigh, issuing the following statement on social media:


At Lotus Caravans, we fully back our product and the quality of our workmanship and will always work with our customers to ensure satisfaction.

Lotus has offered, and continues to offer, a full refund to Ms Tracey Leigh for the purchase price of her caravan.

In spite of this, Ms Leigh has engaged in a public smear campaign to damage the Lotus brand, boost her own profile and attempt to leverage a claim to more than she is entitled.

Lotus ultimately issued legal proceedings to clear it’s name and, having finally had the benefit of an independent inspection of the caravan, has been vindicated and is now withdrawing it’s claim as it has no desire to press it’s legal rights against Ms Leigh.

At Lotus, we take our commitment to our customers seriously. That is why it was with great sadness that we learned last year of the publication of various untrue statements about Lotus, its products and employees which appeared on a Facebook page that had been started by Ms Tracy Leigh, a customer of Lotus. The purpose of this statement is to provide information, not just the story of one individual with an agenda.

Ms Leigh began her page because of dissatisfaction with Lotus and it’s dealerships. Ms Leigh was dissatisfied when Lotus refused a full refund on her caravan, instead insisting on an opportunity to inspect and assess the caravan.

Ms Leigh repeatedly refused Lotus’ request. It is difficult to resolve and situation or concern when one of the parties is not willing to work together. Ms Leigh claimed as ‘major defects’ brakes heating and a factory fault with the chassis. Ms Leigh subsequently commissioned a number of repairers to work on the caravan.

Attempts to Resolve the Dispute
To be clear, Lotus has not and will not ever refuse reasonable assistance or redress to its customers and will always seek to resolve any issues its customers raise.

However, in this instance, Ms Leigh sought to pressure Lotus to agree to her demands through the publication of one-sided, negative publicity.

After months of trying to negotiate, Lotus management had no option but to initiate Court action. This step was not taken lightly and came only after Ms Leigh refused to remove the offending and untrue statements from her page despite repeated requests to do so and Ms Leigh would not allow any positive feedback about Lotus products and service.
Since Ms Leigh first reported alleged defects with her Caravan in 2015, Lotus Caravans along with the dealership at the time had, on numerous occasions, offered to assess and repair any and all genuine defects. Even after commencement of legal proceedings, Lotus offered to transport the vehicle (at its cost) to its factory in order to thoroughly assess the Caravan.

Notwithstanding these offers, Ms Leigh refused to allow Lotus or its representatives to inspect or repair the Caravan.

Despite saying on various occasions on her page that she had an unquestionable claim to both a refund and damages from Lotus, Ms Leigh has never actually lodged a claim in any Court or Tribunal seeking that refund.

Nonetheless, she has continued to demand that Lotus settle its claim against her and that in addition to a refund, insisted that Lotus offer her significant and unsubstantiated sums of money for tenuously linked claims.

Statements about alleged Non-Compliance
Ms Leigh has also published baseless, misleading and untrue statements in relation to alleged findings made about Lotus’ operations by certain government regulators. To be clear, Lotus has responded fully to all communications and enquiries from any regulatory or government authorities arising from complaints Ms Leigh has lodged.

Lotus maintains an excellent relationship with all regulators and government agencies with whom it is required to regularly communicate and cooperate as part of its ongoing compliance regime. Whilst as part of this process regulators will at times make
recommendations for changes to Lotus’ processes, Lotus has never been subject to a sanction or penalty for non-compliances.

Ms Leigh’s allegations made against individuals and Lotus Caravans stating we are knowingly producing non-compliant, unsafe and unroadworthy caravans shows the total disregard of those regulatory authorities and their findings along with continuing to try and damage a family owned Australian business in one of only few manufacturing industries left in the country.

Expert Inspection of Ms Leigh’s Caravan
In line with Court orders sought by Lotus, Ms Leigh was required to finally make her Caravan available for inspection. On 2 and 3 October 2017, an independent expert engaged by Lotus inspected Ms Leigh’s Caravan at a remote Queensland residential property.

The inspection was conducted at that property because Ms Leigh refused to allow the Caravan to be moved to a suitable workshop. The experienced Caravan repairer, whose business is regularly engaged to repair many makes and models of Caravans, was accompanied in his inspection by a licenced electrician. And during the inspection, the Caravan was road-tested.

The independent report was compiled in accordance with the County Court of Victoria’s
Expert Code of Conduct. It is comprehensive and covers various issues complained of by Ms
Leigh. The report notes that there were no issues present which constituted major problems which would render the van unsafe or unroadworthy.

The report stated that the van clearly lacked maintenance and had been neglected for a considerable period of time, perhaps contributing to the issues complained of. It found that operator error likely played a significant part in some of the items complained of (including overheating brakes) and, importantly, that the van had likely taken a significant impact which caused metal distortion evident on the chassis.

The report concludes that the caravan is not unroadworthy as Ms Leigh has claimed and that there is nothing evident to suggest that the van is unfit for purpose. Further, the report notes that the unauthorised repairs made to the Caravan (including to the emergency brake system) were of a poor standard, and in some instances performed incorrectly.

Discontinuing of Legal Proceeding
Having the benefit of the independent report, and with its position vindicated, Lotus has taken the decision to discontinue its legal action against Ms Leigh.

In doing so, Lotus has again made an offer of a full refund to Ms Leigh. This was done even though:

1. Ms Leigh has never actually brought a proper legal claim for a refund in Court or Tribunal where her complaints could have been fairly judged and properly evaluated; and

2. The independent expert’s report shows that all of the issues complained of by Ms Leigh are easily repairable and, in many circumstances, arise from Ms Leigh’s use and care of the Caravan rather than any fault of manufacture.

Though Lotus has sustained substantial damage because of Ms Leigh’s publications, initiating the legal action against Ms Leigh was never an exercise designed specifically to recover financial losses, but rather an effort to have the true facts of the matter revealed.

We feel that objective has now finally been achieved.

The future
Lotus approaches all issues raised by its customers with the utmost seriousness. We recognise that our relationship with our customers has been the key to the continued success of our family owned and run business. Beyond complying with its legal obligations, Lotus will always give customers a ‘fair go’. Fortunately, most of its customers afford Lotus the same level of fairness.

Putting this unfortunate chapter behind us, we look forward to continuing to work hard for our customers in bringing them outstanding Caravanning experiences; both through innovative, industry leading products and outstanding service.


About Time To Roam

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  • comment-avatar

    Peter Brown

    I had been planning on purchasing a Lotus Trooper 22′. The above letter written by Lotus has made me extremely concerned about Lotus. I am now having second thoughts. I emailed lotus approx a week before going to a Lotus dealer and have not had a reply to said email. Which seems to back up the various complaints made on these sites. The salesman was great and made me feel confident in the Van’s quality. However now I have a lot to think about.

  • comment-avatar


    I have am having similar problems i am nearly 60 vaned for decades first new van $60k plus a nightmare 900mm crack appeared after about 6 days only been on highway it just appeared very concerning repaired now but this is a refurbished van now ,and my transport time,plus more, industry needs a shake up and independant regulation ,as usual you may as well cop it and repair properly yourself..buy a debugged 2nd hand.I wont go on it would be pages,oh how about yes all vans pool water on the roof its normal,mine is 6mm deep xvan width and 1 metre unreal, bullies,ok I”am good now bye.

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