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RMIF/SMMT clash (again)

The RMIF and SMMT have clashed again over the industry’s attempt to develop a code of practice to try to avoid a National Consumer Council so-called supercomplaint in September of next year.

Matthew Carrington, RMIF chief executive, issued a statement the day before the British International Motor Show press day claiming a breakthrough “in the nick of time for a united industry approach after we exposed the manufacturer body’s attempts to push through a one-sided code”.

He added: “All parties must understand there can be no more hidden agendas, no more back door tactics. This is our last opportunity to get this right. The consumer lobby will not be giving us a second chance.”

In response, Nigel Wonnacott, SMMT spokesman, says: “There must be something in the water at the RMIF. We don’t understand their comments, because nothing has changed as far as we are concerned.

“We want to work with the RMIF and everyone else, and there is no battle. We’re getting a bit tired of this sort of nonsense and struggle to see the motivation.

“Maybe the RMIF believes its members want it to be seen to be posturing. But anything suggesting to the Consumer Council that the industry is not working together is extremely unhelpful.”

Matthew Carrington is unrepentant: “Our members are extremely concerned that the SMMT does not understand the problems of garage owners, and wants a code that suits manufacturers.

“We are still trying to get the SMMT to work with us and the greatest danger is that the code is not adopted by the whole industry. The NCC has made it clear it will judge us on whether mystery shopping assessments show an improvement for our customers.”

Carrington says it is “not helpful” that Duncan Aldred has had to step down as chairman of the DTI Retail Motor Strategy Group’s customer service standards Sherpa and not yet been replaced.

Aldred, former Vauxhall retail sales director, has been appointed Opel and Chevrolet sales and aftersales marketing director in Budapest.

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