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Minister tells independents to sign up to code

A Government minister has made a direct appeal to the independent aftermarket to get behind the industry’s service code of practice.

Gareth Thomas, minister for trade and consumer affairs, has joined industry figures in trying to raise the industry’s reputation and encourage it to dispel the negative consumer perception through the Code of Practice for Service and Repair.

Thomas said: “The code got off to an encouraging start with some 5,000 businesses already committed to participate. However, I am disappointed only a small percentage of those businesses were from the independent, non-franchised, sector.

“The code has been developed to be a tool for the whole industry by which all competent operators can demonstrate they are as capable of providing good levels of service as any in the sector. In that way the Code can also be viewed as an aid to effective competition across the market.”

Thomas warned that only with the support and subscription of sufficient non-franchised garages will the code be considered sufficiently effective to become fully “OFT Approved”.

“The industry has taken great strides in improving customer service and delivery and a successful code might provide the key to finally dispel the largely ill-deserved negative public perception of the industry.”

Mike Owen, senior technical manager at the RMIF, said: “The Government has made it quite clear that it is measuring the garage industry through its participation with the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair, so those independents who have yet to sign up to the code should do so in order to participate in directing the future of the industry.”

Owen emphasised the importance of the industry getting behind one single code which can be promoted properly to consumers with the backing of the Office of Fair Trading. Others, such as the Good Garage Scheme, were “only pretenders to the throne”, he said.

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