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SMMT delivers car code ‘with teeth’

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says it is giving new car buyers greater confidence following the approval of its New Car Code of Practice.

All of the SMMT’s measures have been granted stage two approval by the Office of Fair Trading – the first code to do so – just weeks after the OFT rejected the CarWise Code put forward by the RMI. However the RMI claims the SMMT’s regulations leave most British motorists unprotected, as they apply only to the relationship between new car buyers and carmakers. In response, the SMMT has urged the RMI to make its own code acceptable to the OFT.

Provisions in the New Car Code of Practice include regular monitoring by the SMMT’s Regulation and Compliance Unit, which reports directly to the OFT, of carmaker’s conduct in areas such as product quality, parts supply, warranties and complaints handling.

Contraventions will earn manufacturers penalty points, which once exceeding 200 points in any three- month period will result in a fine of £1,000 to £5,000, donated to industry charity BEN. Their performance will also be publicised.

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan says the industry has delivered a code “with teeth” as demanded by the OFT. His RMI counterpart, Matthew Carrington, welcomes the code but says its CarWise Code would have further benefited consumers. “Despite the lack of cooperation by the OFT, we are working towards a scheme that will provide the customer with a strong sense of confidence in their garage and the service they receive,”he says.

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