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AM campaign: Fair pay for a fair deal

Dealers have been subjected to criticism of their business practices in a campaign launched by AM's sister-title Fleet News.

It has led to fierce rebukes from the retail motor industry.

AM believes fleets should sign up to a customers’ charter to promote a ‘Fair pay for a fair deal’.

What would you like to see included?

Email your views to AM editor Stephen Briers at stephen.briers@emap.com

The latest headlines from Fleet News

Fleets speak out in dealer service row

Fleet operators have added their weight to the Fleet News Fair Dealer campaign with a growing list of examples of where they want service levels improved.

The Fair Dealer campaign highlights best practice and condemns unacceptable service in Britain's dealer network.

The operators wrote to us confidentially through FNN.

Among the case studies was that of a two-year-old Renault Laguna diesel, which needed to be repaired when the warning light came on and power dropped.

It was reported to a local dealer on May 21 and the first appointment offered was more than a month later, on June 25.

The fleet manager affected said: 'The car was left at the dealer's for several days as it would only be a 15-minute job to put it on the diagnostic computer, but they never touched it.'

He added that the company was paying for a hire car while his company vehicle was off the road.

Other problems included getting service departments to answer the phone or return calls.

Another issue was getting them to charge standard work times for jobs and not treat customers like 'idiots'.

One reader accused a manufacturer's dealer network of not being properly equipped to cope with the demands of commercial vehicle operators. He wrote: 'They need to take a look at proper commercial vehicle operations, such as those run by Iveco and Mercedes-Benz. No longer can they claim to be car manufacturers who build one or two vans.

'People like ourselves who operate several hundred commercial vehicles need to be catered for with 24-hour servicing, seven days a week.

'We cannot be asked continually to queue up behind three Motability cars, Mrs Jones' leaking Fiesta and Mr Smith's Ford Mondeo that he keeps reversing into his garage door.'

At the time of the campaign's launch, dealerships argued that most of their hard work and good service often goes unnoticed, with only the bad news coming to the surface.

If you have a good or bad story to tell about your experiences with a dealership click on the Fair Dealer Campaign logo on the right of the homepage.

Fair Dealer Campaign: Garages accused of rip-off over hourly labour rates

Garages have been accused of 'ripping off' customers by charging them more than £150 an hour for labour.

Latest research of 27 manufacturers shows a dramatic variation of charges across the country – with £152.75 an hour being charged by a BMW franchised dealer in central London. The Thames Valley belt of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire is the most expensive region in the UK with an average hourly charge of £68.61.

Cheapest was Scotland, according to the survey carried out by independent automotive warranty specialist Warranty Direct, where the average repair is £43.12.

Warranty Direct managing director Duncan McClure Fisher said: "Unfortunately, manufacturers don't have any control over dealer labour rates, hence the sometimes truly extortionate charges some motorists are having to stomach. Everyone appreciates the cost of living differs across the country but surely not to this level?"

Giving advice to fleets seeking repairs, McClure Fisher said: "The obvious advice is to shop around and as manufacturers have effectively given them a stamp of approval, don't ignore established or specialist independent garages.

The service is just as professional and competent but you don't always have to pay the price."

BMW said its dealers set their own labour rate and the average was £68 plus VAT.

Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Porsche and Audi provided the five most expensive rates recorded by the company.

At the other end, Mazda's average was £44 an hour, although a franchised Mazda dealer in London would cost double that.

Warranty Direct's research coincides with this month's Fleet News Fair Dealer campaign, which called for garages to give a better service to fleets.

Fleets highlighted their best and worst experiences with garages but dealers also responded, with many saying that fleets need to understand the problems facing garages before they have a true vision of what needs to be done to be done to solve the industry's problems.

The campaign found clear evidence that that a punishing drive to keep costs down among fleet operators is starving the industry of the resource its needs to improve.

Software provider cfc solutions said it has noticed that an increasing number of fleet managers are using fleet management software to police service standards from dealers. Managing director Jason Francis said: "What has really set in motion the trend for monitoring the dealer service standards situation is the need to focus on maintenance order to fully meet Health and safety Executive guidelines."

Labour rate fact file
Region Highest rate Average rate
Thames Valley: £117.31 £68.61
North London: £115.62 £65.36
Anglia: £102.67 £64.87
South London: £152.75 £62.97
North West: £108.63 £60.71
Northern Ireland: £81.66 £58.67
South Coast £119.85 £55.21
Midlands: £111.63 £54.45
North East: £101.52 £50.35
Wales: £96.31 £51.60
South West: £101.52 £50.35
Yorkshire: £98.70 £48.12
Scotland: £70.50 £43.12

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