INDUSTRY dispute resolution provider, The Motor Ombudsman, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair.
The Code was introduced in response to the need to improve standards in the service and repair sector, and to reduce the number of complaints from consumers.
Now it is one of the four Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved codes to be offered by The Motor Ombudsman, covering the entire customer purchase and vehicle ownership experience. It is also the most comprehensive and longest-running Code of its kind.
Unveiled with the backing of the Office of Fair Trading, consumer groups and the service and repair sector, the Code was designed to ensure that individuals receive an honest and fair service when visiting an accredited business for work on their car.
It quickly became recognised as the new industry benchmark for the standards expected of garages, which surpassed those required by law, and saw over 5,000 businesses voluntarily subscribing to the best practice operating guidelines in its first few months.
Since then, the Service and Repair Code has evolved and been refined during the past 10 years to accommodate the arrival of the Consumer Rights Act and Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations in 2015, as well as the transition from Motor Codes to The Motor Ombudsman the following year.
Over 7,500 independent garages, franchised car dealerships and vehicle manufacturer authorised repairers across the UK are now accredited to the Code.
All businesses that are signed up to the Code have agreed to the use of honest and accurate advertising, to open and transparent pricing and to employ competent staff.
They should also have a swift and effective complaints handling procedure in place should a problem need resolving with a consumer.
In the event that a dispute cannot be concluded directly, any accredited business can signpost them to The Motor Ombudsman’s impartial alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service.
With a growth in awareness of the Code during the past 10 years, and the volume of businesses accredited to it, associated contacts and cases have also risen.
These stood at 2,980 and 35 respectively in 2009, the first full year of the Code, and is forecast to reach over 13,000 contacts and 700 cases for 2018.
Common breaches of the Code have related primarily to the quality of the work that was carried out on a vehicle, issues arising from the diagnostics process and damage to a car while in for repairs.
Despite the notable upsurge in demand for the assistance of the resolution of disputes through the means of adjudication since 2008, studies commissioned by Motor Codes and The Motor Ombudsman have revealed an increasingly positive picture of the service and repair sector.
Satisfaction with the work conducted by businesses has remained consistently high during the past few years, averaging over 9 out
of 10, with both independent garages and franchised dealers scoring 9.9 out of 10 in 2017. Furthermore, a study by The Motor Ombudsman also showed that vehicle owners are even happier with their service and repair experience in 2018 compared to the preceding 12 months.
Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director said: “The future of the sector is certainly looking bright based on the current trends, and it remains our continued ambition for as many businesses as possible to be adhering to the Code.”