Legal action against Lemon Caravans Facebook group founder dropped

Article by · January 2, 2018 ·

Lotus Caravans has made a statement on its Facebook page stating it’s ceased legal proceedings against Tracey Leigh, the founder of the Lemon Caravans Facebook group which she set up after feeling she’d bought a lemon caravan from the Melbourne based caravan manufacturer.

In the statement (read the full thing here), Lotus caravans says “Lotus ultimately issued legal proceedings to clear it’s [sic] name and, having finally had the benefit of an independent inspection of the caravan, has been vindicated and is now withdrawing it’s [sic] claim as it has no desire to press it’s [sic] legal rights against Ms Leigh.”

Ms Leigh originally bought a Lotus Caravan in 2015 but allegedly had a number of problems with is which she claimed rendered the caravan unsafe and unfit to use. She’s claimed that after a number of attempts for it to be fixed, the problems remained and so has asked for a full refund.

In the statement from Lotus made in the middle of December 2017, the company has stated that it’s committed to the satisfaction of its customers but said that Ms Leigh’s dissatisfaction occurred when “Lotus refused a full refund on her caravan, instead insisting on an opportunity to inspect and assess the caravan.” According to Lotus Ms Leigh continually refused Lotus’ request.

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The company has also accused Ms Leigh of trying to pressure it into agreeing to ‘her demands through the publication of one-sided, negative publicity,’ and said that after months of negotiation the company had no choice but to initiate legal action. Lotus has said, “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.”

In the statement, Lotus says it was able to inspect the caravan in October 2017 for the first time, and says the report prepared by an independent expert engaged by Lotus “notes that there were no issues present which constituted major problems which would render the van unsafe or unroadworthy.”

The company maintains that the offer of a full refund to Ms Leigh is still on the table.

Update: 12 January, 2018. Ms Leigh has challenged many of the claims made in Lotus Caravans’ statement, including the claims the she’s published one-sided and negative statements, was offered a full refund, didn’t allow her caravan to be inspected and that the caravan is roadworthy. A full report will appear in issue 31 of ROAM.

What’s your take on this situation? Could it have been handled better by both parties? Has this shone a light on something that needed light shone on it? Is this a vocal minority making a big noise about a small problem? Comment below.

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About Brendan Batty

ROAM's fearless editor, Brendan's most often found searching for the next best campsite, or fixing his caravan so it will make it to just one more.

46 Comments

  • comment-avatar

    DWH

    After reading the item above it highlights a problem with social media. It easy to unload crap on anybody and hide behind a keyboard. If the complainant is not prepared to submit her van for inspection then it doesn’t show any guts to back up her complaint. If she was right she would have been the first to present the van. No I do not own a Lotus.

    • comment-avatar

      DWH sadly there is only one side of this story being peddled around and it is not the truth. However people are not questioning it at all and just believing that it is true. Have a look at my Dropbox link below. There is evidence there that I offered the caravan for inspection multiple times.

      I hope this never happens to anyone else just for standing up for their consumer rights 🙁

      • comment-avatar

        Greg field

        Tracey, why would they drop the action and agree to pay if they weren’t guilty of unconscionable conduct. Good on you and hopefully a new van and happy holidays are ahead of you

        • comment-avatar

          Mike Willis

          Well said Greg.

  • comment-avatar

    Darryl

    I do own a Lotus the same as the one in dispute. In reference to the question Yes I feel it could have been handled much better by both parties. There seems to have been little effort put into dispute resolution by either side and it appears to have degenerated into a clash of personalities. I am happy to see Lotus withdraw this legal action and hopefully it will lead to increased attempts from both sides to resolve their differences. Currently this spills over into social media sites and ignites argument and vitriol from supporters of both camps who simply claim the other is lying. I have blocked most of the main protagonists because it has been going on for months and months and frankly needs to be resolved.

    • comment-avatar

      Darryl there was plenty of effort on my part to resolve the issue well before ultimately rejecting the caravan and asking for a refund. I tried for five months to get repairs done. It was overwhelming as more and more defects became apparent and I was fobbed off to the manufacturer of each defective component to deal with. In the end I had no real choice but to reject the caravan. I had no confidence in either the product or the company any more. Both the supplier and manufacturer refused to abide by the Australian Consumer Law and denied my consumer rights. I didn’t have the money to take legal action, which was quoted as being at least $50,000. So the only action I could take was to make it public. As it turns out, in doing so it seems that I have exposed a massive, systemic problem in the RV industry, with thousands of very unhappy RV owners in a similar predicament. Not for much longer as the ACCC has now put the industry on notice.

  • comment-avatar

    It would have been nice to be contacted to provide my side of the story. Everything Lotus Caravans has claimed in their statement is untrue and defamatory.

    Specifically:
    1. I was never offered a full refund, ever. They only offered a refund minus GST when they advised they were discontinuing the defamation case. Never before that.
    2. I made the caravan available for inspection from 12 August 2015 and offered it again on no less than 10 other occasions. It was Caravan World and Lotus Caravans who refused to inspect it.
    3. The caravan had repairs prior to it being rejected. It was rejected because there were so many defects and more were appearing all the time. Lotus Caravans did not reply to us for two months of us emailing them to get authorisation for repairs.
    4. The caravan is not compliant to mandatory Australia Standards 3000, 3001 and 5602.2. This makes it a non standard vehicle which is an offence to supply to market. It may also be a criminal offence.
    5. I didn’t pay $73,000 for a second hand patched up caravan. I have rights under the Australian Consumer Law and all I have done is try to exercise those rights, to no avail.
    6. I was polite at all times in all communications with Caravan World and Lotus Caravans. I tried very hard to work with them but they simply refused to acknowledge my consumer rights. I allege that they have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct throughout this whole process.
    7. Lotus Caravans has refused to supply me with the inspection report on MY carvan, which was not independent. There was also an agreement with the inspector that the report would be supplied to me at the same time as it was supplied to his client. The inspection was conducted by a Lotus Caravans authorised repairer. They have chosen to ‘cherry pick’ allegations which I can prove are false.

    If you want the truth, it is all here:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4c9dtjnsyk6ug4j/AABqYUnQZDcr40EP34rdHLECa?dl=0

    • comment-avatar

      Janet

      Maybe the report has been given as they paid for it surely if u offer to pay for it u might get it I understand it was expensive

  • comment-avatar

    Claire Pritchard

    Author, why would you not present both sides of this story, by speaking with the lemon owner as well, to provide a balanced argument for your readers. Nothing worse than a half baked article which ultimately misleads the reader.

  • comment-avatar

    Paul Elbourne

    So, DWF+H, If Lotus were being truthful and honest, why drop the court case – according to their so called ‘evidence’, they had it in the bad…then drop it? Why didn’t they wan’t to publish the evidence of the ‘independent inspector’??

    • comment-avatar

      Legal Eagle

      Paul, similar happens all the time. To sue someone for injurous falsehood you must supply financials to show it has impacted the business financially. If the company has continued to show profit during this time then they have not been impacted therefore thet must withdraw the action.

      • comment-avatar

        Teena-Maree

        So Legal Eagle wouldn’t that mean that they never had a case and that this was used as a bully-boy tactic? Putting aside the truth if what has been said about Lotus, if they did not suffer financial loss (which any half decent company would know from the outset) then they never should have brought the action.

        • comment-avatar

          Legal Eagle

          That really depends, if a person feels they have been personally defamed at the same time but the context of the defamation was about the company as a whole then they may be wishing to proceed and pull out at the last minute. People withdraw cases for a multitude of reasons.
          Defamation is in no way black and white, it has more grey area then could be imagined.

          • comment-avatar

            Tracy Leigh

            Legal Eagle there is substantial evidence that this was vexatious litigation from the start. Unfortunately, for me to summons the Plaintiffs to answer that allegation was going to cost more than I could afford. So I had to weather the storm until I was able to summons them to discover their financial documents and other sensitive but relevant documents. Two days before they had to be discovered they discontinued the case. Unfortunately for me, I can’t claim any compensation for what they have done to me for a year. It is very unjust.

  • comment-avatar

    Ann

    Not all the facts seem to be collected for this story. So I guess that is poor reporting. Once again because of the media people get put in a position and are forced to defend themselves. Hopefully by reading the above statements by the Lemon Caravans Facebook group founder you now have all the facts.

    • comment-avatar

      Thanks Ann. It was the only way I could put my side of the story since I was not asked prior to this article being published. In my honest opinion, it was very poor journalism, especially then asking whether both parties could have handled the situation better. Given that only one party’s side of the case was reported how could anyone form a proper opinion? Hence there has been a lot of negative and in some cases vitriolic commentary made about me. All of it unwarranted.

  • comment-avatar

    Alan Pottle

    Why not get both sides of this issue and present a balanced report and not just one that very quickly comes across as a very biased and one sided report in favour of the company by a magazine that seems on the surface to be very aligned to the industry.

  • comment-avatar

    Selby Iles

    I think that Roam really does need to publish Tracy Leigh’s side of the story. The initial report is very one-sided and readers may well get the impression that Roam is giving tacit approval to Lotus by not including a statement by Tracy Leigh.
    From what I have read of this ongoing saga, it would seem certain – in my honest opinion – that Lotus has much to answer for. And for Tracy Leigh to have come out in her defence and make the allegations she has, would seem to indicate that she has irrefutable evidence to back up those allegation of deceptive and deliberately misleading statements by Lotus. This dispute has been in progress for far too long and Roam’s readers have every right to know both sides of the story.

  • comment-avatar

    No Name

    Over it old news a refund was offered the owner didn’t like the terms and went on the attack. Lotus withdrew the refund offer.

    The customer should have gone to the table to discuss the offer instead of going into attack dog mode straight away. TL will never know now what else may have been on the table.

    But i get the sense this is more about pleasing her fans than settling the case because if she settles she becomes no longer relevant.

    • comment-avatar

      No Name you are regurgitating the lies that are being spread without availing yourself of the facts of the matter. Have a read of my comment above. Go and look at the Dropbox. The evidence is there.

      • comment-avatar

        No Name. Where are you getting your information from? How do you know I haven’t tried to negotiate with Lotus Caravans? Who told you that I am carrying on ‘like a belligerent child”? It would seem that you are happy to believe the company side of this story without listening to mine. All I ask is for a fair hearing.

        • comment-avatar

          Legal Eagle

          Tracy, if you are after a fair hearing take them to court.
          You were never going to have anything but a defence heard with them taking you to court for injurous falsehood.

  • comment-avatar

    John

    ANother troll post by a no name. Know nothing , talk plenty.

  • comment-avatar

    Garry Moorhouse

    How can a professional group publish one side of a story. Without even contacting the other party. Shame on you.

  • comment-avatar

    Vicki

    This just the same old 20 people arguing about the same old thing. None of them (like me) know anything about it just what either side has told them. The evidence provided here actually shows nothing that supports either story and if anything supports the story of both sides equally so the obvious assumption would be the truth lies in the middle. The supporters of both have become too involved with hating each other to listen to anything conciliatory though so it just goes on. As for the story being one sided and poor reporting I would say it is fair and puts forward both opinions equally but again the mob won’t see anything but their view as the only truth. This seems to have little to do with the original problem and has grown into a contest. Pick a footy team or a political side and hang on.

    • comment-avatar

      Tracy Leigh

      Vicki where is my side put in that story? I have commented with a Dropbox link. You might like to avail yourself of that and make an informed opinion.

      • comment-avatar

        Vicki

        Tracy. The article itself gives both sides of the story. It mentions your allegations and the company’s rebuttal. I availed myself of the dropbox link previously and I read the linked Lotus statement. That is what I formed my opinion on. I see nothing in either story to convince me that my conclusions are incorrect.

        • comment-avatar

          Well Vicki it would seem that you haven’t read everything in the Dropbox then because the evidence is there to refute all their claims. Seems like you just prefer not to believe me for whatever reason.

  • comment-avatar

    Lorree

    I get the feeling the person hiding behind the anonymous post is probably lotus themselves.

  • comment-avatar

    Kyles

    Oh dear! More he said/she said.

    • comment-avatar

      At least my ‘she said’ comes with hard evidence and not just false and baseless accusations.

    • comment-avatar

      Kyles

      Therein lies the problem as they say they have their evidence too.
      The casual observer viewing this with neutrality from a distance just sees 2 groups claiming they have all the evidence and are indisputably 100% right. It is my experience that is rarely the case in any circumstance. What the casual observer sees with all certainty is group attacks on any individual that dares to offer an opinion outside the rigid dogma offered by both sides. From the comments here and in other groups it seems the issue is lost is a sea of abuse and personal attacks. I think the attacks made against yourself personally are abhorrent but I find the attacks made by the group on others equally abhorrent. Everything said on this is just opinion (as are most things people consider fact) to all but a couple of people and opinions will always vary but bullying and belittling people for having an opposing opinion does neither side any favours.
      I presume in time a court will decide the facts it considers worthy and discount anything it considers as false and baseless accusations. Until then I expect people will just go on abusing each other.

      • comment-avatar

        Thanks for your comment Kyles. I totally agree that any attacks and abuse is unwarranted, by any party. I don’t allow it in my group in any form. I can’t stop it elsewhere but I urge my group members to be above that sort of behaviour.

        I have posted a link to a Dropbox folder with photos, videos, expert reports and other documents. This is evidence that is admissible in court.

        Lotus Caravans has posted hearsay with no evidence whatsoever. Just unsubstantiated claims. They even refuse to release the report on my caravan that allegedly vindicates them.

        What I ask of the neutral observer is to view my evidence and then ask Lotus Caravans for their evidence: evidence that would be admissible in court. Only then does that neutral observer have enough information to make an informed opinion.

  • comment-avatar

    Dave

    What’s sad about this is that conumers have this battle across many goods and services in Australia now, like pools, cars, houses, electrical work and many more examples. Whilst not all providers are bad, I have personally had problems in the above and without going to court have had no wins. Good for you Tracey nice win.

    • comment-avatar

      Thanks Dave. The Australian Consumer Law is supposed to enhance consumer protection but sadly it doesn’t if it isn’t enforced. I suggest you make a complaint to fair trading in your state and get them to investigate the supplier who is not complying with the law. If you make a complaint, state that you are being misled about your consumer rights. They are misleading you if they claim that you are not entitled to a refund or replacement where you have a major failure with your product or service. Check out the ACCC web site. There is a heap of good info there that you can take to the supplier and show them they are engaging in unlawful behaviour. Good luck.

  • comment-avatar

    Julie

    Questions to LOTUS, “if your evidence is SO overwhelming in your favour, why on earth are you hiding this same evidence from being made public??? If as you state, you have been vindicated, why are you SO hesitant to prove it??? ” If you are innocent, you would be providing EVERY LITTLE BIT OF INFORMATION that shows it, JUST LIKE TRACY LEIGH has done with all her PROOF! Those that have nothing to hide will go all out to prove it, THOSE THAT HAVE EVERYTHING TO HIDE WILL GO ALL OUT TO HIDE IT!
    And what’s the bet NO NAME and LEGAL EAGLE are associated with this company as they, like Lotus, are sprouting nothing but empty words and accusations.

    • comment-avatar

      Poker face

      Why would they show the evidence they have knowing there is a court case coming their way. I’m no lawyer but I’m a pretty fair poker player and nobody shows their hand before they have to, that’s how you lose the game. It makes no difference to the public what the report says some people will say told you so and some will say it is not genuine it won’t change anyone’s opinion. Let the court decide.

    • comment-avatar

      Legal Eagle

      Julie, what have I sprouted apart from the truth to do with legal process ? I certainly cant see where I have made any accusations. I have no affilliation to Lotus and have never even spoken to them or any of their representatives. Perhaps you should go back and read through comments.

  • comment-avatar

    Julie

    Those that have nothing to hide will go all out to prove it, as Tracy Leigh has done, THOSE THAT HAVE EVERYTHING TO HIDE WILL GO ALL OUT TO HIDE IT, as Lotus are doing!!!!

  • comment-avatar

    Gary

    Why would they make an offer conditional in that it’s less GST? They can claim that back as a loss against their next Activity Statement which no doubt they would if they offered a refund including GST.

    • comment-avatar

      Poker face

      As I understand it the offer was made by Lotus direct?
      If that is the case they didn’t collect the GST originally the dealer that conducted the sale would have. Rightfully a refund needs to come direct from the point of sale at the figure written on the receipt. I agree a customer deserves a full refund of purchase price when one is offered but this seems to be a different category of payment as the entity offering the payment isn’t the supplier but rather the manufacturer.
      Wherever the item was bought from is responsible for payment of a complete refund including GST and then they can adjust their BAS accordingly. In the case of a 3rd party offering a payment they have no recourse to recover the GST from the ATO.

  • comment-avatar

    Everyone over You

    TRACEY LEIGH.
    Seriously get a life and move on. You’re so fixated on the issues that you no longer want a resolution as you’ve made this absorbe your life and you are now thriving on the drama. Shut up, move on and get a bloody life. Your a pest in the caravan world.

  • comment-avatar

    Lyn Michael

    Q I left this group a long time ago, whilst Leigh higlighted problems in the industry, ( yes real ones), my view was she never wanted a settlement, it would in my view be impossible to deal with her in good faith.
    Yes i eveN donated money, never saw a statement of expenditure, in the end i believe the last comment above by over to you , fairly sums up this debacle for Lotus and Leigh.

    • comment-avatar

      sweet

      Tracey you have snookered yourself, you now have a caravan you can’t sell and that is all on you. You’ve had your 15 months of fame now go use your caravan, fund your lifestyle from sticker sales and crowdfunding.

  • comment-avatar

    Dave

    Tracy, Thanks for what you have done, you have made Lotus and all caravan manufactures pull there socks up, improve quality control and be aware of using the right trades people for the right job. Well done. I have looked into the latest Lotus Caravans and pick up a new Tremor in April and feel confident about there quality control thanks to you. I will also be going over the caravan my self with a fine tooth comb now you have made me aware of potential problems.

  • comment-avatar

    John oliver

    Independent caravan expert engaged by lotus LOL 😂


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