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OFT ‘muddling’ ends code of practise plans

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has been accused of ruining plans for a code of practise being put together by the Retail Motor Industry Federation and the Scottish Motor Trade Federation.

They have withdrawn a joint application for the approval of the code, called CarWise, for the retail motor sector, governing car sales, servicing, and repair, including bodyshops.

It was given a branded identity to help the trade distinguish it from other codes of practice, as well as to help identify it to consumers. It was to be part of a national Government-backed scheme comprising of OFT endorsed codes of practice for industries including the motor industry, direct sales, the travel industry, and estate agents.

The RMI had set up the scheme for the sector in collaboration with the SMTA.

Matthew Carrington, RMI chief executive, says: “We apologise unreservedly to all our members who have supported our application over the many months, but the attitude of the OFT has made continuing impossible.

“We have met all OFT requirements for the scheme, but it has constantly changed its requirements, and acted in a way that has caused us to conclude, reluctantly, that it is either unable or unwilling to grant us the full approval, at least in the near future.

“It is apparent that the OFT-backed Codes Regime is still in a design phase and is unable to meet the demands being put upon it. Until such time as the OFT comes to a clear and consistent understanding of what they require from code sponsors to grant approval, there is little point in the RMI and SMTA putting further resources into this application.

Carrington says the RMI and the SMTA either jointly or separately will be developing an alternative scheme to improve industry standards higher and drive the public towards RMI and SMTA member businesses.

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