A survey of 6,000 garages across the UK has identified that franchised retailers charge an average of 40% more than their independent rivals for an hour's workshop labour.
The most expensive rate uncovered by research carried out by automotive service and repair start-up motoreasy was £234 at Porsche Reading, while the cheapest was just £36, offered by an independent workshop in Manchester.
Overall, the UK average labour rate – combining main dealers, independent workshops and fast-fit outlets – is £67 an hour.
Franchised workshops are generally more expensive, with an average UK labour rate of £99 compared with an independent garage average of £56.
The findings will be a blow to NFDA chairman Mark Squires who has urged retailers to go head-to-head with franchised operators independent and fast-fit rivals to win new aftersales revenue.
Following publication of the latest NFDA Customer Satisfaction Survey, he described the consistent debate about more expensive labour rates as a “massive red herring”.
The NFDA’s data showed that the perception of ‘good value for money’ is still a stumbling block, however, only improving from 19% to 21% when comparing those customers that have used a franchised dealer in the last two years, to those that have not.
Squires said: “We recognise there is a gap between perception and reality on pricing for servicing and it was one of the reasons behind establishing this survey.
“There has been an easy story to play to keep hammering on about the difference in labour rates.”
NFDA director Sue Robinson added: “The franchised dealer network has highly trained skilled engineers who place safety and the quality of service above the hourly cost.
"The hourly rate measured in the motoreasy survey does not equate to final bill and is not reflective of the final cost of service.
“An unqualified engineer, charging an hourly rate, may take longer to service a vehicle as a result of not having access to the manufacturer, the specialist equipment and the added FOC services such as software updates."
Despite the ever-increasing cost of service, maintenance and repair work in garages, motoreasy found that more than three quarters of motorists (77%) admit they have no idea how much they pay for an hour of labour.
More than three in five (62%) say they don’t shop around to get the best price before agreeing to work and, alarmingly, nearly a third (31%) don’t even check the final bill before paying.
Female motorists are worse than men for not checking what labour rate they are paying, with more than four in five women admitting they don’t know the hourly cost at their regular garage.
Duncan McClure Fisher, motoreasy founder, said: “Today’s drivers don’t have the time or, in many cases, the knowledge to make absolutely sure they are getting the best price from garages.
“It’s not made any easier by the fact that the cost of labour differs so vastly across the UK. Even so, anyone spending money should at least understand how much they are paying and for what.”
Research carried out by motoreasy highlighted the difference in labour rates across the UK.