UK garages let down motorists

31 January 2006

  • Three workshops join Kitemark scheme
  • Fewer than 100 applications in five months
  • Poor service from workshops continues


Motorists looking for trustworthy garages have just three accredited workshops to choose from - and that's five months after the start of a Kitemark good standards scheme.

The British Standards Institute says that it has received fewer than 100 applications from the UK's 25,000 garages for the Automotive Kitemark scheme which it launched last September, and will only send out the first three licences later this week.

The slow response from service and repair workshops is the latest disappointment in decades of attempts by the £10 billion-a-year industry to get its house in order and give motorists a better deal.

Strings of mystery shops all show that motorists are routinely overcharged, are told they need unnecessary work or are left with their cars in a dangerous, unroadworthy condition.

Steve Fowler, group editor of What Car? said: 'Enough is enough. With just three out of 25,000 workshops getting approval from the BSI in five months, and fewer than 0.5% even bothering to apply, it's clear that servicing and repair workshops are treating motorists with arrogant disdain.

'There seems to be no appetite to change the industry and little effort from workshops to put their shoddy, second-rate and, at times, dangerous past behind them.'

The National Consumer Council last summer set a deadline of March 31 this year for lead trade association the Retail Motor Industry Federation to win approval for a code of conduct from the Office of Fair Trading.

Since the RMI has already abandoned one code and made clear that it will not submit another to the OFT, the NCC says it is now looking to the BSI Kitemark, and another programme being developed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, to drive up standards.

The NCC has the power to lodge a 'super complaint' with the OFT, which could help to force regulation through, but is likely to extend its deadline to give the Kitemark and SMMT schemes a chance to win support.

Come back to soon for more What Car? is Watching features. We're keeping a close eye on garages and dealers to make sure you don't get ripped off.

See next month's issue of What Car? magazine, on sale February 16, to see just how UK motorists are still being ripped off with servicing.

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