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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
New scheme targets garage rip-offs
Mechanic repairing a car
Only 5% of garages investigated came up to scratch
Leading motor manufacturers and large garage chains have agreed to support a code of conduct, with the aim of clamping down on malpractice in the car-maintenance sector.


40 per cent of garages missed at least one service item; 51 per cent if the customer was female, 33 per cent if the customer was male.

DTI report

The agreement follows an official government reported identifying systematic overcharging of customers.

An undercover investigation by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials highlighted garages failing to do work and charging for parts that weren't fitted.

Over half the 207 garages visited by the DTI inspectors were deemed to have provided unacceptable levels of service.

Big bill

The DTI estimates that garage overcharging and carrying out sub-standard work costs UK motorists more than 100m a year. UK motorists spend 9bn a year on car repairs.

DTI report findings
Only 5% of garages investigated were judged very good
86% of garages missed at least one fault with the car
27 % of fast fit centres recommended unnecessary work
Source: DTI

Consumer Minister Melanie Johnson said "consumers are suffering and the industry needs to take strong action now to improve standards."

This is not the first time garage servicing has come under government scrutiny.

As long ago as 1985 the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) reported on UK car services standards; since then complaints to local authorities have more than doubled.

Voluntary code

In response leading car manufacturers and garage chains have agreed to consumer minister Melanie Johnson plans for a Good Garage scheme.

The scheme will set out minimum standards that garages have to adhere to.

However, the Good Garage scheme will be voluntary.

As yet the government does not plan to introduce legislation to licence garages.

There are 26,000 garages in the UK; one-third are single person operations.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation, which runs its own code of practice, said it was keen to work with the government on its Good Garage Scheme initiative.

See also:

19 Sep 01 | Business
23 Jul 02 | Business
08 Aug 01 | Business
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