Code of practice praised by consumer group

18 November 2008 #SMMT News


Consumer Focus1 today used its presentation at a seminar held by the parliamentary All Party Motoring Group, to praise the work and commitment of the motor industry in its response to the challenge made by predecessor organisation, the National Consumer Council, which in 2005 called for a new consumer code for the service and repair sector.


While encouraged by the early commitment shown by franchised dealer networks, and the number of subscribers to the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair now hitting 5,000, Consumer Focus re-issued the warning of a ‘super complaint’2 should the independent sector not take this opportunity to show a similar commitment by subscribing to the Code.


“We can see the benefits of self-regulation, but the industry must meet its side of the bargain,” said Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus. “If the independents don’t sign up, this leaves little option but to introduce a mandatory licensing system. It is in the best interests of all garages to sign up, as carrying the Motor Codes logo tells potential customers that this business takes their consumer protection seriously.”


To date, good progress has been made in initial discussions with high street independent chains, but Consumer Focus is keen to ensure the entire industry remembers why the Code was developed and that the very real threat of enforced legislation still exists, should subscriber numbers across the sector not demonstrate an equal commitment to self-regulation.


Chris Mason, director of Motor Codes Limited, responsible for the operation of the Code said, “We have been impressed with the commitment to the Code shown by the franchised dealer networks to date. I now urge the independent garage sector to engage in this process and add their commitment to demonstrating to everyone that as a sector we are capable of managing our own affairs. This is vital if we are to keep the threat of a super complaint away”.


With stage one of the Office of Fair Trading approval process already completed, this is acknowledged by many as the best – and last – chance the industry has to self-regulate.


The Code aims to promote and safeguard the interests of consumers by helping them identify subscribing garages, and provides an easily accessible and robust dispute resolution mechanism when required. So whether you are a garage seeking a competitive edge by having the value-add benefit of subscribing to the Code or a consumer looking for the most cost-effective solution to deal with motoring costs, log on to and find out more about how the motor industry is committed to delivering good customer service through self-regulation.


The Code itself:


* provides a free consumer advice line: 0800 692 0825

* provides free conciliation and low-cost, legally-binding arbitration

* offer consumers more rights than required by law


Any UK garage can sign up to the voluntary Code, which is currently progressing through the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) and has completed the first stage of the OFT’s code approval process.



Notes to Editors:

  1. Consumer Focus is the new statutory organisation campaigning for a fair deal for consumers in England, Wales, Scotland, and, for postal services, Northern Ireland. It was created through the merger of three consumer organisations – energywatch, the National Consumer Council (including the Welsh and Scottish Consumer Councils) and Postwatch. The new approach allows for more joined-up consumer advocacy, with a single organisation speaking with a powerful voice and able to bring cross-sector expertise to issues of concern more readily.
  2. A super complaint can be made to the Office of Fair Trading when it is considered that there is any market feature, or combination of features, such as the structure of a market or the conduct of those operating within it, that appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers.


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