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Parts delays: the pressure mounts

Delays in delivery of replacement components are costing bodyshops thousands of pounds in courtesy car bills - often way beyond the cost of repairs.

The situation has become so severe, says the Motor Vehicle Repairers Association, that some businesses are refusing to accept certain makes and models in their workshops. Volkswagen and MG Rover parts shortages have been well documented in AM-online, but the MVRA claims at least six marques are struggling to keep bodyshops supplied and has called on insurers and vehicle manufacturers to acknowledge the scale of the problem and to help come up with a solution.

Bob Hood, the Retail Motor Industry Federation's bodyshop services director, agrees the supply situation is not getting any better but suggests RMI members suffering additional costs as a result of delays talk to insurers. “Some of them are being very understanding,” he says.

And Alan Bird, of the Vehicle Builders' and Repairers' Association, also believes losses can be avoided if bodyshops negotiate with suppliers. There are shortages right across the board, due in part to changes of supplier and to the industry's adoption of just-in-time schemes - fine in theory, but not always in practice,” he says.

“Any bodyshop encountering delays should contact the VM's customer care line, explain the situation, quoting order number and date. This usually resolves the matter and often arrangements can be made to cover courtesy car supply or costs.”

Meanwhile the MVRA has mailed questionnaires to its UK members, asking them for chapter and verse on the extent and nature of the problems they are experiencing. “We have first hand knowledge of numerous cases where parts delays have caused problems for our members,” says MVRA customer service manager Roy Smith. “We have been involved with many cases where extended delays meant repairers were expected to foot the bill for a courtesy car for months on end.

“We're currently working with a member who is experiencing severe parts supply problems on vehicles from six separate manufacturers.”

Smith declines to name the VMs, but adds: “Some members are refusing to accept these cars into their bodyshops. They know that the extended storage and courtesy car loan period will wipe out the profit margin in the job.”

He believes data from the membership questionnaire will give the MVRA the ammunition it needs to push insurers and VMs into brainstorming discussions.

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