New deadline for dodgy garages

29 March 2006

Workshops have been given a stay of execution by the influential National Consumer Council, which says the servicing industry has started to make progress in improving standards.

The NCC last year threatened to launch a supercomplaint against the industry and push for regulation unless standards were improved by this March.

Now it thinks that the industry has shown signs of improvement, so it has set out a new timetable for workshops to clean up their act by September 2007.

NCC chairman Lord Whitty said: 'The good news is that the industry is now starting to show some signs of turning the corner.

'However, there is still a long way to go before Britain's 25 million car drivers can be sure of a fair deal.'

The NCC says half of garages are still giving motorists unacceptably poor service, costing each driver £150 a year or £4 billion in total.

It has written to the Department for Trade and Industry urging it to step up pressure on workshops. The NCC has told DTI ministers that it will insist on full regulation if the industry hasn't had a code of conduct approved by the Office of Fair Trading by September next year.

It is hopeful that a code of conduct will be approved, however, and points to the new British Standards Institute Kitemark as a positive sign of progress.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders welcomed the NCC's supercomplaint postponement. The groups said the industry was committed to finally pulling its socks up, and said good progress with a jointly developed code, intended to supplement the new Kitemark, had been made with the DTI.

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: 'We have worked hard to convince the NCC that we are serious about raising our game and we must continue to develop the tools to do the job – with absolute urgency. The threat of a supercomplaint is still very real.'

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