14 million UK motorists feel ripped off by their garage

11 February 2010 #SMMT News

According to research by Motor Codes, which operates the UK’s largest consumer code for motorists, over 14 million[i] people feel short changed by their local service and repair garage. To help consumers feel more secure and allow reputable garage owners to gain the respect they deserve, Motor Codes has today launched a national competition – Golden Garages – in search of the UK’s best local service and repair centres.

Survey results – highlights
·         Almost half of UK motorists (45%)[ii] feel they have been ripped off by garages totalling an approximate 14,063,614 motorists.
·         Out of pocket: Across the UK, motorists feel out of pocket to the tune of an estimated £2.4 billion[iii].
·         Young drivers hit hardest: 41% of 16-24 year olds feel ripped off by local garages on anything between £51 – £150 (compared to 31% of 25-34 year olds).
·         Golden Oldies: Nearly two thirds of over 55s are satisfied with their local garage.
·         Small change: Over a quarter of motorists who feel ripped off by garages think they’ve lost out by between £51 and £150.
·         Backfiring bills: 5% of motorists felt they had been ripped off on amounts higher than £300. Those who felt more than £500 out of pocket claimed to be on average £1,408 worse off following their latest service.
·         The East feels the pinch the most: Motorists in the East of England felt the most ripped off between £51 – 150, with a third claiming to have been short changed, compared to just 17% of motorists in Northern Ireland.
The Motor Codes survey of 1,194 motorists across the UK reveals the high levels of dissatisfaction among drivers taking their car for repair. With just under half of the population feeling hard done by, and an estimated £2.4 billion being lost, the need for a scheme which gives the consumer confidence is undeniable.
“The service and repair sector historically has a bad reputation when it comes to cost,” said Chris Mason, Motor Codes director. “Despite there being many very good UK garages, the public’s bad experiences with some has brought about a lack of trust. There are over 6,200 garages that subscribe to Motor Codes across the country and these businesses buck the disappointed motorist trend. Customer surveys show an industry leading 91%[iv] satisfaction rate from customers visiting Motor Codes garages, we’d like every motorist to feel this satisfied.”
Motor Codes operates a self regulatory code of practice for garages across the country ensuring that motorists receive consistently high standards of service. Supported by consumer groups and government, including the Department for Transport, Motor Codes will raise standards across the industry and the Golden Garages competition will play an important part in this process. 
Public and all garages can follow the competition on the Golden Garages micro site ( as well as on Twitter at
Expert judging panel
Vicki Butler-Henderson – racing driver and TV presenter
“Going to a garage can understandably be quite daunting for both men and women. You practically have to be a mechanic yourself to spot when you’re being ripped off by a dishonest garage – it’s even something that I’ve experienced. The Golden Garages competition will champion the best garages out there so that motorists can be confident of taking their car for a service or repair.”
Honest John – industry expert and Daily Telegraph motoring columnist
“The best way to get rid of bad garages is to support good ones, so the top garages get the business. When Motor Codes took the initiative to set a garage service code of practice I was all for it, especially since it is backed up by an honest and independent means of settling disputes. Now, Motor Codes in association with is searching for the very best garages in Britain: big, small, franchised and independent, and that can only be a good thing for honest, decent garages and for the motoring public.”
Richard Headland – Which? magazine, motoring editor

“Competition for customers is fierce in the service and repair sector and garages must stand out from the crowd to succeed. While, in my opinion, the independent garage trade has often received unfair criticism, members of the public using a garage that has signed up to a code of practice, like Motor Codes garages, have the peace of mind that the business is committed to being trustworthy and fair, plus will provide high levels of customer service. It is these outstanding characteristics that I will look for in Britain’s Golden Garage.”

Richard Bowler – Professional Motor Mechanic magazine, editor

“When having a car serviced or repaired, motorists need to know that they can trust the garage to carry out the required work professionally and at a fair price. Workshop standards vary enormously, but the Golden Garages competition will identify the many trustworthy garages who offer a great customer experience.”

Tom Mallens – Aftermarket magazine, editor
“I’ve been privileged to see the remarkable technical skills and outstanding customer service offered by the country’s best workshops first-hand. As a motorist myself, I believe Motor Codes has an important role to play in raising standards and making sure drivers get to enjoy great service wherever they take their car for repair.”
Chris Mason – Motor Codes, director

“The launch of our Golden Garages competition aims to champion the great service and repair centres across Britain, so that consumers know they can place their trust once more in their local workshops.”

The prizes
With a prize fund totalling over £16,000 open to motorists and garages, this competition is one not to be missed! Motorists nominating their favourite garage will be automatically entered into a draw to win one of five coveted Land Rover experience days for themselves and two friends.
Garages voted top in their region can expect prizes worth £1,000. The Golden Garage national winner, picked from the regional shortlist by an expert panel of judges will receive prizes worth over £5,000.
Regional winners (10 garages)
Unipart – Wigam LovAir Auto Sanitizer (£300)
Unipart vouchers (£300)
Snap-on vouchers (£300)
One year Motor Codes subscription (£75)
Motor Codes promotional materials (£25)
Total Value
= £1,000 per winner
National winner
Lotus Scare Yourself Sensible’ driving experience (£198)
Snap-on – Ethos diagnostic tool (£999)
Snap-on vouchers (£1,750)
Unipart vouchers (£2,250)
Three years Motor Codes subscription (£225)
Motor Codes promotional materials (£50)
Total Value
= £5,472

[i] Based on 2008 figure of 32,252,476 cars on the road according to SMMT data.
[ii] Research commissioned by Motor Codes, conducted by Tickbox surveying a sample of 1,194 UK motorists.
[iii] Based on the ratio breakdown of the sample base applied to the amount of cars on the UK roads.
[iv] Motor Codes survey of 1,868 people that used a Motor Codes garage for their service or repair.

Filter News

Update Newsletter