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First free-to-use motor ombudsman in the UK launched for car owners

Bill Fennell and Jodie Kidd

A new free-to-use mediation service has been launched for car owners.

The Motor Ombudsman, previously known as Motor Codes, is the first organisation of its kind to be focused solely on the automotive sector.

It self-regulates the UK’s motor industry through its Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Codes of Practice.

Bill Fennell (pictured), chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “Our ultimate aim is to give consumers peace of mind, ease relations between garages and motorists and find the fairest solution for both parties should a dispute arise.

“All our accredited garages comply with our comprehensive Trading Standards-approved Codes of Practice and our service is completely free for the public.”

It is responsible for providing an impartial service between consumers and its 7,500 accredited businesses to resolve motoring-related disagreements outside of the courtroom.

“This helps to reduce stress, and the time and money involved in bringing disputes to an end.

“Vehicle owners can now feel confident that when handing their car over for repairs at any of the Motor Ombudsman-accredited garages, they will be able to enjoy a high standard of service and deal with professional experts in the unlikely event of a dispute.”

The ombudsman’s launch comes with a warning that nearly half of the nation’s drivers (43%) put their safety at risk along with the safety of other road users by avoiding taking their car to a garage despite suspecting a fault.

New research of 1,000 UK drivers has found that the major barriers to seeking professional garage advice are “not being able to explain what’s wrong with their car” (35%) and “feeling intimidated by the garage” (32%).

Also, 38% of motorists have skipped having their car serviced, with the biggest concern a fear of overcharging (36%).

Furthermore, 57% of drivers who have experienced an unresolved dispute with their garage did not know where to turn to for help resolving the issue.

For nearly a decade as Motor Codes, 99% of disputes were successfully resolved for.

Jodie Kidd (pictured), the spokesperson for the launch of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “I definitely understand that not knowing too much about cars can put people off taking their car to the garage - no one wants to draw attention to their ignorance.

“Another big worry is the cost associated with the work that needs to be done, meaning we’re skipping services. Having a reliable guide to help find a reputable garage with credible professionals fills us with confidence and allows us to address any potential issues.

“In the rare event of a dispute, The Motor Ombudsman can provide a free of charge un-biased service ensuring peace of mind and a stress free experience.” 

Video: Welcome to The Motor Ombudsman

Highlights of The Motor Ombudsman’s consumer research results

Have you ever had a dispute with the garage?

Yes: 34%

No: 66%

Did you know who to turn to in the event of the unresolved dispute to bring it to an end?

Yes: 43%

No: 57%

Have you ever been put off taking your car to the garage when you suspected there may be a fault with it?

Yes: 43%

No: 57%

You said you had previously been put off taking your car to the garage when you suspected there may be a fault with it - why were you put off taking your car to the garage?

I could not explain what was wrong with the car: 35%

I was intimidated by the garage: 32%

I was embarrassed that I couldn’t understand what the fault was: 24%

I wanted to avoid a potential dispute: 23%

Other: 16%

Have you ever skipped a recommended full or intermediate service interval?

Yes: 38%

No: 62%

As you stated that you have previously skipped a recommended full or intermediate service, why was this?

Concerned that I would be ripped off: 36%

I forgot: 21%

Other: 21%

I am not familiar with servicing schedules and their importance: 15%

It’s difficult to find any genuine garage reviews to make an informed choice: 15%

I didn’t know where/ how to find a garage which I was confident with: 10%

I prefer to do the servicing myself: 8%

Has your own lack of knowledge about your vehicle ever lead to a misunderstanding with a garage causing a dispute?

Yes: 14%

No: 86%

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