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Mechanics on course to charge £200 per hour by 2008

Franchised dealers could be charging £200 per hour by 2008 for vehicle repairs, according to research.

Warranty Direct, the independent automotive warranty specialist, says that during the past 12 months, labour rates have risen nationally by an average of 4%, but with the most expensive dealers increasing by 10%, some are on course to charge an as much as £256 per hour by the end of the decade.

According to Warranty Direct, the highest recorded labour rate during the past year was a BMW dealer in Greater London, at £158.63 per hour. Other highly paid mechanics included £146.88 from an Audi garage, £129.35 from a Land Rover and £123.38 at a Mercedes Benz dealer.

Greater London is home to the most expensive dealers in the country with £100 plus hourly rates fast becoming the norm. “A growing number have been happily joining the £99 + VAT club,” says Warranty Direct spokesman, Duncan McClure Fisher.

The average cost of labour from franchised and independent garages has only risen by 2% across the capital since last summer, compared to the Thames Valley belt (up 10%), Scotland (up 19%) and the midlands (up 12%). Falls were recorded in Wales (down 5%), Anglia (down 8%) and the north west (down 7%).

Warranty Direct’s analysis of 2,897 dealers nationwide also uncovered an increasing trend to penalise owners of newer cars.

On average, vehicles under 3-years-old could expect to pay up to 20% more than a four-year-old version of the same model. One Skoda dealer admitted to Warranty Direct that they ‘don’t have a fixed labour rate at all’.

The report also stated that labour charges now vary according to the actual model in question. For example, one Land Rover dealer was charging £90.48 per hour for work conducted on a Range Rover but £69.37 per hour for work on a Freelander – both under the same roof.

Warranty Direct says: “We’ve been banging the drum about the extortionate rates being charged by dealers for several years now. The only reason they think they can get away with these figures is because the public continues to fail to ask the key question – ‘how much are you going to charge me?’

“And just because you have bought an expensive car, it doesn’t automatically mean you should take some of the rip off rates being charged on the chin. The fact is the job done is the same in Norwich as it is in London, but you’ll save over £65 an hour if you’re an Audi owner.”

Maximum hourly labour rate charged by a franchised dealer 2005

Regional variations

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