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The big picture: Speaking in coded words

In March the RMIF and SMMT issued a joint statement welcoming the decision by the National Consumer Council to delay its super-complaint.

Relationships between the industry’s two leading trade bodies appeared at an all-time high, with talk of agreement over jointly developing an industry code of practice for the service and repair sector.

How quickly things change. In a conversation with AM last week, RMIF chief executive Matthew Carrington spoke accusingly of the SMMT 'fudging the issue' in an attempt to force through its code as an industry code of practice. He said the SMMT was keeping the code to itself and not allowing other key stakeholders in the Retail Motor Strategy Group to have a say in its development.

The SMMT disagrees. It says the code is for the industry and that it welcomes the input of other organisations. This week it held a meeting of the RMSG customer service standards Sherpa group, chaired by Vauxhall retail sales director Duncan Aldred, to discuss progress.

The RMIF, though invited, did not attend due to prior commitments, but insists this is not a snub to the SMMT. Despite the emotive language used by Carrington, he still wants to work with the SMMT.

So what’s the true picture? According to those that have sat in on the RMSG meetings, including this week’s Sherpa meeting, it’s somewhere between the two viewpoints.

The SMMT has not engaged stakeholders as fully as it should, but the code is not, as the RMIF suggests, dead in the water. It hasn’t been rubber stamped by the strategy group, but neither has it been dismissed, according to sources.

Feedback following this week’s meeting suggests that members of the Sherpa group – who include franchised dealers, independent repairers and manufacturers – are committed to developing the code and have reached a consensus about the way forward. The industry is watching with interest.

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