OFT – raising servicing and repair standards
Garages in the Isle of Man will be put to the test as the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading prepares to use vehicles with known faults to establish standards of servicing and repairs.
The OFT routinely monitors standards of servicing and repairs as well as investigating complaints from consumers but Chief Officer Nick Black believes that there is a requirement for more intensive checks across the Island. “It is very important that garages maintain high standards when servicing vehicles. Work not carried out properly could make the vehicle unsafe – increasing the risk of accidents with resultant injuries or even deaths. Cars are one of the most expensive purchases many of us make and we rely on garages to do a professional job when servicing or repairing them. (We have done this work for many years but we now want to let everyone know that we are really stepping up a gear).”
Officers from the OFT will make use of or purchase second hand cars, motor cycles and commercial vehicles, which qualified engineers will assess.
The vehicles will then be booked into garages for services – with the work being assessed by the same qualified engineers to establish whether or not it has been carried out to the requisite standard. The engineers will also assess whether or not garages have charged for parts which didn't need replacing. Enforcement action will ensue if any serious or many less than serious faults are missed or if garages charge for unnecessary work.
Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading Bill Henderson MHK commented “Consumers need to be protected from garages that do not do not do their jobs properly. The OFT is determined to ensure that there is a high standard of workmanship at all Island garages. Poor servicing can result in dangerous vehicles on the roads driven by drivers who believe that they are safe.”
In 2006 the OFT prosecuted a garage for recklessly issuing a customer with an invoice for work that hadn’t been carried out. The garage was fined £1000 and ordered to pay £1750 in costs.
In 2005, 15 Trading Standards Authorities in England, Scotland and Wales took part in a Trading Standards Institute survey in which vehicles were checked by an engineer who registered faults before and after submitting them for service. The Institute found that 76% of garages failed to service cars correctly and 36% of those left vehicles with major faults, including one with imminent brake failure.