Thursday, 17 November 2011

We are OFT Approved

The Office of Fair Trading has approved the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair.

I've been waiting over five years to say that, today is a significant day.

In 2005 the UK service and repair sector was told by the Government to sort themselves out or they'd get involved. At this point SMMT were seen as the pioneers of a new approach to sector specific self regulation through the New Car Code that had been launched and approved by OFT in 2004.

So, the Government came calling and through it's industry liaison group agreed that SMMT should establish a new company that would house a service and repair code to define minimum standards of customer service and in the longer term become a brand of reassurance sought by consumers.

Motor Codes was formed and now we have a Government backed Service and Repair Code to add to our long standing OFT Approved New Car Code.

The journey has been long and interesting, frustrating, demanding and sometimes, well... pretty dull. That's the nature of putting a code through the OFT approval process, its hard work.

All worth it today, well worth it.

I've been working in the motor industry since 1985, this was required then. I know senior industry figures who tell me the same about when they started in the industry, 40 and 50 years ago.

So now we have it. An agreed set of standards that any garage worth its salt should adhere to.

That's consumer protection, customer service and customer retention all in the same document. And guess what, it's not complicated, that's the funny thing. The complicated part has been getting the negotiations with OFT over the past few years right so that what we have is something we can all understand and commit to.

Congratulations to all involved in this extraordinary process, I guess for my part I merely steered the course with much advice, support and encouragement from any number of people.

Collectively we did it. Well done all.

Sign up or search for a subscribing garage here

OFT press release

Motor Codes press release here

All the best

Times, they are a changing

This month we bought a new car for the family. I say new, it's three years old. Our son says it's our big new car - that's good enough for me.

Why am I telling you this? Well, we live in north Essex and the car came from Gateshead, we didn't see it in the flesh, test drive it, touch it, kick its tyres or study the paintwork before we bought it.

We found a dealer group that we trust and entered into a process whereby they 'assisted' us to find the car we wanted, in the colour we wanted, mileage, previous history and ownership, all as we wanted. The vehicle was the exact specification we wanted as we'd spent time researching it beforehand.

The car was delivered to our door, at the time and day we specified, with bridging insurance in place for a week to allow us to drive it immediately. Which we did.

The car had an MOT and service prior to delivery, has 12 months warranty and roadside assistance cover, as well as a 'no quibble' exchange or refund should the vehicle not be what we had agreed to buy.

For team Mason, you can't beat this. We have bought our last two family cars through this process now, without having to find time to trail the kids around forecourts and everything that entails.

Horses for courses I know, some would think us mad to complete the transaction without actually seeing and driving the vehicle.

I reckon that's the way the used car market is evolving and by the time our son gets to buying his first car, it might just seem a little odd to him that we used to go and look at them.

I may be wrong, time will tell..

All the best