The new car warranties market study, published in December 2003, found it was generally £80 more expensive to service a new car at a garage attached to a franchised dealer than at an independent garage, while there was no discernible difference in the quality of service offered.
However, many owners of new cars did not take advantage of the lower prices at non-franchised garages because of restrictive terms in their car warranties. The study also noted substantial confusion amongst consumers on this issue, with more consumers thinking their warranty contained restrictive clauses than was the case.
Following the 2003 study, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) put in place measures which ensure most car owners now have the right to have their new car serviced at any garage without invalidating their warranty, and also ensure that they are informed of this right.
The OFT ran a consumer information campaign to provide clear advice to buyers and owners of new and nearly-new cars about the choices available to them for servicing their cars.
The evaluation study by Europe Economics, came to the following conclusions about the OFT market study and follow-up actions:
John Fingleton, OFT chief executive, said: 'This report highlights an excellent example of the OFT working with industry and using its full range of tools to deliver a high-impact outcome for the consumer at a low cost and in a short amount of time. On this particular study, the OFT delivered over £400 in benefits for consumers for every £1 of taxpayer money spent. The report also demonstrates our continued commitment to evaluation for both external accountability and internal development purposes.'