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Honest John gives seal of approval

The motorist ‘agony uncle’ Honest John website has selected five automotive companies to be the first to receive its HAT (highly approved trader) standard.

Freelance journalist and former car dealer Peter Lorimer, who runs the website, says franchised dealers are unlikely to get a HAT standard. 

“A franchised dealer group might be added, but I don’t know when,” said Lorimer. “It might be a retailer offering big value for money.”

BCA, Cargiant, Motorpoint, Drivethedeal.com and Warranty Direct are the first to receive a HAT standard.

Lorimer, who spends time each week at car auctions, said the five companies had given proper service for many years. 

He weighed that experience against comments from more than 100 emails a day from visitors to the Honest John website and from Daily Telegraph readers.

“They had to show reliable, high-quality service, excellent value for money, and demonstrate an excellent and transparent mechanism for handling customer complaints,” he said.

The HAT standard was nothing to do with the Daily Telegraph, though the newspaper’s web address appears at the Honest John website, he added.

“Many awards are given in the industry that don’t mean much,” said Lorimer, who has not been a dealer since soon after the launch of his Honest John column in 1995.

Lorimer said he championed the cause of motorists but the HAT standard also recognised motor trade best practice.
“Now, more than ever, motorists are trying to find people they can trust who will deliver good deals and decent service for a sensible price,” he said.

Tony Gannon, BCA communications director, said: “We support this initiative, which can only help the industry as a whole.”

David Shelton, Motorpoint managing director, said: “I am pleased to see Honest John support the best of the motor retail trade, helping consumers make informed choices and driving up industry standards.”

Darren Miler, a Cargiant executive, said: “Honest John is a household name which makes this a significant achievement for Cargiant, setting us apart as a mark of quality.”

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