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RMIF slams latest Warranty Direct report

The Retail Motor Industry Federation has labelled the latest Warranty Direct with misleading consumers into thinking they are being overcharged for repair work.

The 2006 Warranty Direct Garage Labour Rates survey compares franchised and independent garages and shows London as the most expensive region.

The survey suggests that garage rates ‘are still extortionate’ and that ‘motorists can help themselves by asking how much they charge an hour’.

“Warranty Direct seems to think that the general public cannot grasp the idea that garages have differing labour rates in different areas of the country. Also, I strongly suspect the majority of consumers would resent the implication that it wouldn’t occur to them to confirm costs before work commences,” said Matthew Carrington, RMIF, chief executive, commenting on the 2006 Warranty Direct Garage Labour Rates survey, which compares franchised and independent garages.

Carrington continued: “Consumers are able to choose an appropriate service and price structure across a broad scale.

"Franchised dealer labour rates are generally higher overall because of the extra costs that these businesses incur in order to meet the standards expected by both consumers and car manufacturers.

”Independent repairers may incur lower costs, and these savings may be passed on to customers.

“Costs are naturally highest for businesses in metropolitan areas, especially central London.’

What Warranty Direct says: “British motorists spend an average of £72.28 per hour for car repairs – with London garages charging an average of £86.51 or £116.53 for a franchised dealer.

Across franchised dealers, the national average jumps to £91.07, and falls to £49.61 for independent workshops. The most expensive dealer over the past twelve months charged £170.61 an hour, with one independent billing a customer £117.45.

Oxfordshire proved to be the most expensive region as far as independent garages were concerned. It recorded an average of £67.20 an hour, more than twice as much as the comparable rates for Lanarkshire, Scotland (£32.12). Similarly, the £116.53 an hour being charged by franchised dealers in London to carry out repairs was almost 60 percent more than the cheapest region, Cornwall (£70.34).

The firm's analysis of invoices from over 3,000 workshops showed that the £100 an hour barrier was breached in eight out of ten regions (52 were examined in total). Even Lanarkshire, which recorded the lowest rates for independents, delivered a £112.80 per hour charge for one of its franchised dealers.

The disparity between franchised and dealer labour rates is perhaps starkest in the West Midlands where the average is £66.35 an hour, but as high as £117.45 (franchised) or as low as just £23.50 (independent) – the cheapest recorded."

"After a couple of years of excessive rises, mechanic labour rates have started to stabilise but it’s obvious that there is still a major gulf between regions, and independent and franchised garages," says Duncan McClure Fisher, spokesman for Warranty Direct.

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