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Industry repair code finally gets OFT's amber light

The Motor Industry Service and Repair Code has finally gained stage one approval in the Office of Fair Trading's Consumer Codes Approval Scheme.

Stage one approval shows that the wording and framework of the code satisfies the OFT in that it will promote and safeguard consumer interests beyond the minimum requirements of consumer law.

Now the motor industry must show that the code has sufficient buy-in from workshops and will work effectively in practice.

Motor Codes, the organisation established to run the code, will now carry out comprehensive monitoring procedures, including visits to garages and customer satisfaction surveys, to demonstrate this.

This is likely to take around a year, after which the OFT should grant stage two approval, which gives the green light for qualifying workshops to display the OFT Approved Code logo.

To address concerns about the sector and build consumer confidence, the code will require that:

  • When member garages provide a quote or estimate for work, they also offer a breakdown of costs including the charges for labour and parts in writing;
  • Where it becomes apparent that further work is required, the member garage must first get the permission of the customer before carrying out this additional work;
  • Member garages do not take upfront deposits;
  • Independent disciplinary procedures are in place with a range of sanctions including warnings and termination of membership to deal with garages who do not comply with the code;
  • A low-cost independent redress scheme is available to customers;
  • Comprehensive monitoring procedures of member garages take place, including inspection visits by independent RAC engineers.
  • The RMIF is among the industry stakeholders that have been involved in the creation of the new scheme.

    Ray Holloway, director of the RMI Independent Garage Association (IGA), said: "Improved standards of service and consumer care are best achieved through industry self regulation so the motor industry code of practice will be a great boon for the further development of our industry."

    Sue Robinson, director of the RMI National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), agreed the code would promote and safeguard the interests of consumers.

    She said: "This will benefit the reliable and professional businesses that make up the vast majority in the sector. ‘The Code is the route to success for the motor industry."

    Paul Everitt, chief executive, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: "Most garage businesses will meet the criteria needed to comply with the code and so we are confident that consumers will soon be seeing more and more of the motor codes logo appearing on service and repair outlets up and down the nation."

  • To read AM's full analysis on the OFT's approval for the service and repair code of practice see the September 5 issue. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.
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