“Hello, I’d Like to Make a Super Complaint”
For example, according to What Car, its numerous mystery shop reports have all shown motorists are routinely overcharged, told they need unnecessary work or left with cars in a dangerous, un-roadworthy condition. Summing up consumer sentiment on the issue, earlier this year Steve Fowler, group editor of What Car?, said: “There seems to be no appetite to change the industry and little effort from workshops to put their shoddy, second-rate and, at times, dangerous past behind them.” True, such bad press could be overstating the matter – on balance it is also worth mentioning that at least one NCC mystery shopper survey described a missing valve cap as a “serious” fault – but this does not change the outcome. So while many tyre outlets operate professional services, the actions of a number of “cowboy” garages mean the may also have to pay the price.
The next problem is the lack of progress made in working towards the only other alternative, self regulation. Some have tried (namely the SMMT and BSI) but so far the success is summed up in the history of the BSI initiative. BSI, the organisation that issues the world famous Kitemark accreditation, has been trying to introduce an automotive Kitemark, but take-up has been pathetic. Out of the UK’s 25,000 garages only 11 currently hold the Kitemark.
The good news is the government recognises that self-regulation is a better option. Sources report that the people who would be responsible for introducing enforced regulation are not interested in having a VOSA repeat performance. (Do I need to mention the MOT fiasco?) But unless there is a clear alternative the government, through the office of fair trading, will have to act.
So what’s the answer? All professional tyre specialists know that customer service is paramount. And while much of the tyre retail business may have been unfairly tarred with the same brush – as far as the “arrogant disdain” that Steve Fowler described above – taking the necessary steps to ensure that the business is seen to be doing the right thing is in everyone’s interests.
Otherwise what’s the industry going to do if the man from the NCC says: “I’d like to make a super complaint.”?