Almost two-thirds (60%) of motorists say they have had a bad experience at a local garage – but more than half (55%) have also found a 'totally' trusted supplier that they regularly use.
This mixed picture was revealed in a survey of 1,400 motorists carried out by the RAC for the launch of the recently-launched RAC Garage Compare price comparison website.
Among concerns raised were 38% of motorists who said a garage failed to fix a problem with their vehicle and 36% who felt they were overcharged. In addition, almost one in four (24%), are concerned about hidden costs when booking their car in for work such as servicing.
In fact, more than one in 10 (11%) said that they did not trust local garages at all. However, in addition to the 55% who have identified a “totally” trusted local supplier, a further 40% have a local garage that they “mostly” trust.
Douglas Rotberg, chief executive of The Motorist’s Organisation, which is the RAC’s partner for RAC Garage Compare, said: “This mixed picture shows how motorists often find it difficult to identify a garage that they believe they can trust. More than half feel as though they have had their fingers burned at some time. Pricing and quality of work are clearly concerns for many.
“However, the research also indicates that motorists also know that there are good garages out there and, once a customer has built a relationship with one that they like and in which they have confidence, they will keep using them again and again.”
Douglas said the results revealed that customers often felt a sense of vulnerability when they were dealing with a garage.
He said: “A car is often a major source of expenditure for a customer and something on which they very much depend for their work and social lives. However, they probably have only a vague idea of how it actually works and taking it to a garage is a stressful experience for them. Will they end up spending a lot on a repair they don’t even really understand?
“Good garages recognise this fact and do everything possible to be transparent and place their customers at ease. They know that this approach is not just the most ethical and honest but is also the best way to build long-term, sustainable customer relationships.”
Douglas added that this was why online customer reviews were rapidly becoming important to garages.
He said: “Independent, easily accessible review provide the customer with a fast and easy way to assess the trustworthiness of a garage. The principle is simple – if other people have had a good experience, then it is likely that you will also be satisfied.
More than 3,000 independent and franchised garages have signed up as suppliers to RAC Garage Compare since the project was announced in early December.
Consumers enter their postcode and registration number plus details for the kind of services they require from a menu – choosing from three pre-defined levels of servicing with the option of an MoT. They then book online, receiving a confirmation and are also encouraged to rate the garage after use.
For garages, the new site provides free listings and access to a potentially entirely new pool of local customers as well as the opportunity to build a strong reputation through customer ratings. Each can list up to three different types of service schedule. Their profile can include accreditations along with details of memberships including the RAC Approved Network.
Results from RAC Garage Compare are ranked in terms of availability and garages can easily update their current status in real time, providing the opportunity to drive bookings higher when there is spare workshop capacity by influencing their position.