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VBRA deals with complaints

The Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association has dealt with 14 complaints about bodyshop members in the first year of operating its new consumer code.

Most issues have been resolved through the trade body’s conciliation system, which was a stipulation of the Office of Fair Trading when it granted full approval to the VBRA’s scheme at the end of September 2004.

According to the VBRA’s report, three cases are still under investigation: one has been referred for independent inspection, the second is being handled by the consumer’s insurer, and the third concerns alleged additional work that was agreed to be carried out but was not.

VBRA bodyshops ask customers to complete a postage-paid satisfaction survey card. In the past 12 months, 9,240 cards have been received back at the VBRA.

Of these, only 431 reported complaints, mostly in relation to the vehicle not being ready when agreed or failure to keep the consumer informed.

Almost five times as many actually praised the service received.

“The implication is that dissatisfied customers are more likely to respond than satisfied ones,” says Malcolm Tagg, chief executive, in the report.

“This said, it is pleasing that 1,964 favourable comments have been received, representing 22.25% of the total.”

The VBRA has around 680 bodyshop members which, according to its estimates, carry out at least 1.25m repair jobs annually.

All have been supplied with OFT code posters and leaflets to give to customers. However, Tagg highlights a delay by the OFT to swing its publicity campaign into action.

Originally this was due to begin in January, though the launch finally took place this month. Tagg says the delay caused “a degree of disillusionment” among VBRA members.

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