The Government has rejected calls for MOT stations to be obliged to join an approved code of conduct, but accepted many other recommendations aimed at improving the customer experience at garages.
A range of recommendations were put forward by the Motorists Forum which was created after the decision to stick to 3-1-1 servicing intervals.
The suggestion that all new MOT garages should have to join an approved code, and that existing workshops should join ‘as soon as it is practially possible,’ was the most contentious recommendation.
It was backed by forum members including Paul Everitt, outgoing Chief Executive of the SMMT of which the Motor Code for Service and Repair is a wholly-owned subsidiary and one such approved scheme alongside Bosch Code.
However, the Government’s response was: “We do not accept this recommendation. While we strongly support wider adoption of OFT/TSI backed codes, we have a presumption in favour of market mechanism and self-regulation.”
The DfT reponse undelines the Government’s reluctance to impose regulation on the industry, while disagreements on the recommendations show the difficulties in finding a unified way forward.
The recommendation was questioned by Bill Duffy of Halfords, and Stuart James of the Independent Garage Association, while the IAAF’s Brian Spratt called the entire legitimacy of the panel into question at the Federation’s recent conference.
Nevertheless, mixed figures from the AA/Populus survey show the need for the wider market to find a way forward as it still faces a lack of confidence and awareness amongst consumer and a growing threat to trade from franchises.
Overall the Government said: “Where customers are empowered with information about the standard of individual garages, market forces can drive up quality.” It’s response to other Forum proposals may also provide a framework for more united action. It accepted that:
- VOSA should publicise the results of its compliance work.
- More MOT data should be available to customers to help them make informed choices.
- It is in the interests of all garages to sign up to an code of conduct approved by OFT/TSI.
- Garages that are members of an approved code should benefit from ‘earned recognition’ within VOSA’s risk assessments.
- Codes should expand to incorporate the MOT test.
- Codes should provide customer feedback websites.
- The AA and RAC should track consumer confidence in garages:
- More publicity of mystery shopping exercises is needed
- That codes should include requirements on training.