After the demise of the NZSA star rating system back in April 2012, it was always going to interesting to see what the industry would do in terms of regulation. I warned back then that I would not be surprised to see bogus star rating claims as there would be no one to check or question if any of the so call testing of alarms were legitimate!
It was good to see that Autowatch NZ did the honest thing and removed any reference to the Star ratings from their website. However, the likes of Mongoose and AVS seem to have carried on as if nothing has changed.
Let’s not forget that some companies were quite happy to claim that Dynatron was not “star rated” after they stopped paying the NZSA membership fees back in 2011! Surely going on this logic you would have thought that AVS, Mongoose and others would have dropped their claims of being “Star rated” seeing that there is no longer any NZSA representation? As Ron Cambell from Dynatron pointed out, the star rating system is little more than a “conspiracy to defraud the public and insurers”.
There is no doubt that Mongoose and AVS had both invested heavily in the “5 Star Car alarm” marketing spin. AVS even named their re-branded RhinoCo products after the Star rating system. S3 (3 star), S4 (4 star), S5 (5 Star) etc.
Mongoose Star rated?
Mongoose claim that all their alarms are independently tested but how do we know this is true? Should we simply trust them?
Mongoose vehicle security products have been designed and developed by us in New Zealand and Australia and manufactured exclusively for us overseas to our specifications. The systems are then independantly tested and certified by Australian testing laboratories to ensure they meet and exceed the demands of the highest AS/NZ Standards. That Standard, and the level of security, is easily identified by their Star rating.
For all I know, the tests could have been carried out by a crack addict who runs a P lab in Wagga Wagga!
So what is needed to clean up the standards?
First of all the standards need to be available to the public. As it stands there is no way to verify that an alarm/immobiliser actually has a valid test certificate, or what the test actually checks! This means that the system is wide open to abuse and can not be challenged.
We need a system that is open and transparent. It should not be difficult to achieve. Let’s take the Thatcham system as an example. All current test certificates are valid for two years and certificates can be found on the Thatcham website.
Cobra NZ has also provided me with copies of all their existing certificates which I have published. If you have any doubts about how valid they are then you can double check them!
As it stands there is no way to check any of the AS/NZS car security standards.
Let’s look at the AVS S series of alarms. It is now in its 4th generation. Does this mean that it’s the same alarm that was tested back in 2003 or whenever the test was done? Or do AVS simply keep the same model name to avoid getting a new test done?
The same can be said of Mongoose with the M60 and M80. Are they the same alarms that got tested and approved many years ago?
Here are my recommendations:
1: All Test Certificates should be published.
2: Test certificates should have the name of the testing lab and person issuing the approval.
3: Standards need to be open to peer review and accountable to both the public and the insurance industry.
Finally, I need to point out that the current standards AU/NZS are hopelessly out of date (even when last updated in 2003) and need to be updated or dumped. For example, surely having an attack-proof security housing should be a minimum requirement for an “insurance rated” immobiliser?