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Independent banned from cheaper claims after fails to prove case

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A small victory has been achieved for franchised dealers battling independent garages’ ‘cheaper servicing’ claims.

Servicing Stop, a web-based motor servicing operation which directs work towards its network of 750 independents, has been banned from repeating a radio advert which claimed its servicing cost much less than main dealers after a challenge to the Advertising Standards Authority by franchised rival Birchwood Garages.

The ASA ruled that the advert was misleading and in no way qualified the claim of “costs much less than main dealers”, so listeners would be misled into believing Servicing Stop was always cheaper.

To back its claims, Servicing Stop provided the ASA with a table showing a sample of jobs booked between January and July 2010 comparing its listed service price with prices quoted by main dealers, and said it had gathered quotes from a range of dealers by phone and online.

It also argued that it was able to charge less than main dealers because it could purchase parts at a lower cost and because it believed its labour rate was always cheaper, fixed at £65 per hour.

It showed the ASA labour rates of four franchised dealers, all of which were higher.

But the ASA said it wasn’t clear whether the main dealer prices in the table were from one dealer or were an average of several, nor whether they were for full or interim services, plus the quotes were at least six months out of date when the advert was broadcast.

The ASA banned Servicing Stop from repeating the advert.

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