Rumours have been circulating that the RMI is planning a ‘son of CarWise’ scheme, which would have similar codes of practice, although any such programme would still require OFT approval.
“This is absolutely not going to happen. We have started consultation with our members for our own code of practice but this is a long way short of CarWise,” says Matthew Carrington, RMI chief executive.
“All this will be is a code of practice that we need to get OFT approval for, like any other industry body. The NCC is a completely separate issue – we have been in communication with them with regard to the possibility of a supercomplaint but that is all. We believe that self regulation is the answer here, rather than legislation.”
The RMI dropped CarWise, a code of practice for car sales, servicing and repair, last September after six months of wrangling with the OFT.
The NCC has the power to submit a ‘supercomplaint’ to the OFT if it believes that a market appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers. This could lead to enforcement action by the OFT’s competition or consumer regulation divisions or a market investigation by the Competition Commission.
In April it threatened to issue a supercomplaint, accusing the industry trade bodies of “inaction” on the problems suffered by consumers, estimated to cost about £4bn a year. NCC is now launching a study into how standards could be improved.
“We are throwing down the gauntlet. Years of inaction defy the harm this sector inflicts in consumers,” says NCC chair Deirdre Hutton. “Unless the industry gets serious about addressing the problems consumers suffer, a supercomplaint may be the only way forward.”