Aldi has agreed to pay $1,000 in compensation to a customer after a critical tow bar accessory snapped while he was pulling a caravan.
Martin Bray from Adelaide purchased the $29.99 Caravan Anti-Theft Lock Kit as part of a Special Buys from a store in Woodcroft in the city’s south in February.
The 65-year-old then used the hitch pin from the kit to tow his caravan along the Strzelecki Track, in outback South Australia, on a road trip to Queensland.
A hitch pin is a thin metal rod in the shape of an L that helps secure a trailer to a vehicle.
The councillor for the City of Onkaparinga had just hit an unsealed section of the road on September 12 when ‘the knot came off the end of the hitch pin’.
‘Nobody expects something like that to happen,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Budget supermarket Aldi will pay $1,000 in damages to customer Martin Bray, from Adelaide, after their hitch pin snapped (pictured above) while Mr Bray was pulling a caravan
‘When the hitch pin came out, the caravan dropped down on to the chains and started violently shaking.
‘I had no idea what was going on and just very slowly and carefully braked and brought everything to rest.’
The emergency chains stopped the caravan from detaching and the caravan’s electrical connection ensured its breaks were still working.
‘If the caravan brakes weren’t working when I braked it would have smashed into the back of the car,’ he said.
‘Because all the secondary safety things were working correctly, fortunately given the seriousness of it, the outcome was not too bad,’ he explained.
Mr Bray was able to fix the caravan with tools and spare parts he had brought on the journey.
‘I got out of the car and took a photo and then it was a matter of realising what happened and working out how to sort it out.
‘I had a spare hitch pin which was extremely fortunate… so with a combination of jacks I was able to get the van back up and get things organised,’ he said.
Mr Bray contacted Aldi through email and 18 days later received a call asking him to provide further details of the incident.
‘I sent them an email, including a statement of claim for the damage done to the van, ‘he said,
‘Aldi initially got back to me and said the product was not designed for travelling on the road and was for use when the vehicle is not moving, which is hilarious.
‘They denied that there was any issue and they just denied the claim and indicated that they weren’t considering doing anything more about it.’
Mr Bray raised the issue with South Australia Consumer and Business Services and received an updated email from Aldi on Wednesday.
Mr Bray was driving to Queensland along the Strzelecki Track (pictured above) in the South Australian outback when he entered an unsealed section of road and the hitch pin broke
‘Aldi subsequently contacted me and said they considered that a full investigation was needed and they have agreed to pay the compensation,’ he said.
An Aldi spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia Mr Bray’s experience was ‘an isolated incident’.
‘Product feedback shared with Aldi is investigated thoroughly to ensure current and future products meet our high quality standards,’ a spokeswoman said.
‘In this instance, the investigation led to misleading information being shared with a customer, and in turn, the customer has been compensated.’
South Australia Consumer and Business Services have ‘urgently’ been investigating Mr Bray’s claim.
‘Consumer and Business Services is urgently assessing this complaint to determine whether there are matters that need to be addressed under the Australian Consumer Law,’ a spokesperson said
‘We are unable to provide any further detail at this stage.’
Mr Bray said he hoped to raise awareness about the dangerous equipment and the need for a recall.
‘If this happens to somebody, and their setup isn’t quite right, when the van detaches the consequences could be quite severe,’ he explained.
Mr Bray’s claim prompted an investigation from both Aldi (file image storefront pictured) and the South Australian Consumer and Business Services