Tag Archives: MoneySavingExpert.com

A temporary reprieve for the UK MOT

Every year 35,000 cars are MOT’d at some 21,000 MOT centres.

Thank goodness for that I say because the Government tells us that in 2010-11 44% of vehicles failed their MOT test initially and 28% of vehicles had one or more car defects that were either missed by MOT test centres or incorrectly assessed.

This matters massively because the MOT is supposed to be a safety snapshot on the day and often it’s the only one older cars get each year.

VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) data also showed that the roadworthiness of one-in-eight cars (12.4%) was being incorrectly assessed by MOT test centres.

Minister for Transport, Justine Greening said:
“Our garages are crucial to ensuring that Britain’s roads continue to be among the safest in the world. Most are doing good work but the latest data shows that there is room for improvement.”

“I want each motorist to be confident that a visit to the garage ends with their car repaired to a high standard by reputable mechanics rather than uncertainty about cost and the quality of service.”

“Giving drivers the very best information about garage performance is absolutely key to achieving this goal. It means that responsible garages will be well placed to reap the commercial benefits of transparency. Garages where performance is not up to scratch will find themselves under pressure to do more for their customers.”

Nicely said but drivers wouldn’t need performance information at all if all garages were regulated to perform to minimum and policed standards. As things stand, bad garages can pay to join good garage schemes, thus appearing to be responsible garages, without employing qualified or accredited mechanics.

And from the female motorist’s point of view, especially one who prefers her Yellow Pages Directory to any online listing, how is she to know that a garage listed as ‘Good’ doesn’t employ qualified mechanics to fix her car? Undoubtedly she thinks it does.

One interesting footnote to today’s Press release about all this states ‘The garage sector is regulated in several ways. The sector has to comply with business laws and consumer protection legislation. The MOT scheme is regulated by VOSA, an agency of the Department for Transport.’

All well and good but sadly, in our experience, none of this stops motorists being overcharged, patronised or sold things they don’t want to buy.

So I shall be interested to see how the Government assesses ‘reputable’ mechanics when they aren’t qualified or accredited as fit to do the job before being allowed to tinker with our brakes, for example.

All in all, I’m pleased to see that there will be a spotlight on garages again but wouldn’t it be easier to have one regulation system for all garages? Not just the ones who choose to self-regulate themselves via Motor Codes because the majority of these are franchised dealerships who have been told to sign up by their manufacturers but who presumably operate to higher standards than the Motor Codes Service & Repair code in any case? Which doesn’t include MOT centres as it happens.

And how will the industry judge value for money here? The likes of moneysavingexpert website tells motorists to use local authority centres where they’ll pay full price but aren’t sold anything they don’t need. But motorists will head for the discount deals and garages that may or may not be part of a ‘reputable’ scheme.

All to avoid the inevitable which is surely a fully blown regulatory scheme that outs the bad garages for once and for all.

FOXY Steph

You can read about 2010/2011 VOSA compliance survey data here. .

Or check your car’s MOT status  and history here.

Can customer loyalty be bought?

How much is it going to be guys?

Some companies clearly think you can buy customer loyalty but that’s often a very short term marketing strategy. It is grossly unfair that she who haggles hardest gets a better deal than she who doesn’t know to haggle or what her choices are…

But should we need to haggle to get a price we should all be offered in the first place? It’s not very British after all. I prefer to know where I am, with businesses publishing a fixed price menu, and/or promising me their best price and then offering me a simple price matching guarantee should I find a lower price elsewhere after paying my money (terms apply of course). I’m usually suspicious of cheap prices anyway, especially in garages I don’t know, for fear of being ripped off in the end.

And whilst successful hagglers are usually assertive types (more often male, truth be told) who enjoy the chase for the lowest possible prices, I suggest that for every one woman who enjoys negotiating, there are two of us who feel this is probably below our dignity…we don’t have to do this on the High Street after all.

Which is why comparison websites are so popular of course because we can see our price choices without any stress; even though we all know we get what we pay for and that it’s vital to read the small print before we buy car insurance, for example. If only to see the excess we’re underwriting and whether it’ll cost us more to choose a FOXY Choice approved female friendly bodyshop for our accident repairs.

But why should those who don’t like to haggle be expected to live with a second rate deal? In fact, these females can be ones that tend to trust a business yet they are often the ones exploited by unscrupulous businesses. They don’t get a deal because they didn’t like to ask…

Take the following telecoms and insurance organisations, for example, who MoneySavingExpert.com tells us will reduce their prices if existing customers threaten to take their business elsewhere…  AA Breakdown, Admiral, BT, O2, Orange, Sky, T-Mobile, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone.

Those customers that threaten to take their business away save money, often quite a lot, whereas those that simply pay up regardless, pay more. Is that style of caveat emptor behaviour really fair? And what is even worse in my opinion is that very often existing customers are better off cancelling and signing up again because of preferential deals many offer new customers. Women don’t necessarily do this, because of the hassle involved at the time, but we aren’t stupid, the rot has set in and many of us will jump ship as soon as it suit us.

I am particularly interested in the subject of customer loyalty in the UK motor industry because many car dealerships will do a better new car buying deal at the end of a month or a sales quarter; whenever there is a sales target to be met. But who realises this when they walk into a showroom – the car salesman, who is often on commission, is not going to tell you this…

In FOXY’s experience the majority of women find haggling stressful and this mindset, in an unfamiliar shopping environment like a garage or car showroom, may explain why we often feel ill at ease and like to take a man with us for support. In 2011 for goodness sake; when women are the professional shoppers and the BIG gender spenders!

On the flipside, businesses that adopt and stick to a ‘What You See is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG) ‘no haggle’ policy are likely to be trusted more than others. It seems a more open and honest way to do business, it’s definitely less stressful and it’s clearly fairer for all.

If only the price we were quoted was always the best price at the time! Then the motor industry wouldn’t have the reputation it has for ripping off solo females (and many men who are less likely to admit that it happens to them too) who don’t know how to react in garages, dealerships or when dealing with a stressful accident claim.

FOXY Steph

PS: Visit the FOXY Choice website to find out which female friendly UK garages, dealerships and fastfits have signed a commitment to not ‘overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they do not need or want.’ That’s the FOXY Promise and whilst it is primarily for women (because FOXY is a female brand) it’s also the sign of a measurably better and more trustworthy business for men too.