Tag Archives: Autotrader

Making a motor complaint – what you need to know

A recent press release confirms that The Motor Ombudsman has dealt with some 9700 contacts, presumably enquiring about making a complaint between April and June 2017.

Just imagine dealing with this sort of angry volume!

That’s presumably including many who are considering complaining about businesses that are signed up to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Code Of Practice scheme covering new cars, used car sales, service and repair garage work and car warranties.

Whilst this Ombudsman has quite a lot of dealers, garages and warranty providers signed up to their scheme I wondered where motorists with problems at non member dealers or garages go? So I googled and found the Consumer Ombudsman website but again, if the business you want to complain about isn’t part of either of these schemes you’re on your own it seems.

And never was this as evidently dysfunctional a process as illustrated by comments made below the AutoTrader article that introduced me to the Consumer Ombudsman. I imagine these may well be from individuals who bought a car from an AutoTrader advertiser? Too many for AutoTrader to handle one presumes from the absence of any acknowledgements.

So, keeping this blog short and to the point, if you didn’t know that car sales, servicing and repairs are largely unregulated areas within the motor industry and you accidentally chose a garage, a dealer or a warranty product that isn’t part of a Chartered Trading Standards Institute Code of Practice scheme you might be interested to read what happens when things go wrong?

Well, by and large, the answer is ‘not a lot’. You’re mostly on your own and because of this too few motorists take matters further, fobbed off by inadequate warranties or not realising their rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Which is a great shame and probably why the industry maintains its lacklustre image tarnishing the many good car dealers in the process.

Coping With a Motor Complaint

So, what should you do if you have a complaint about a car, a dealer or a garage? Here’s some advice.

1) Stay calm. Nice people stand a much better chance of getting a solution than difficult ones. Know who you speak to and when. Document your conversations. If you’re a member of FOXY Lady Drivers Club make sure we know… and that they know we’re watching the outcome with interest.

2) If you’re dealing with a manufacturer approved or franchised dealer or garage you ultimately have the car manufacturer to escalate your complaint to but you’ll still need to demonstrate that you gave their annointed garage or dealer the chance to rectify this before they failed.

3) Don’t imagine that you can simply go to another garage to get things put right or that garage number one will pay your bills if you do. They don’t have to. You should give garage number one the chance to put it right – even if you’re simply going through the motions.

4) Even if you’re unhappy with a business bill, you are usually required to pay it but you should write on the invoice ‘Paid Under Duress’ to show you didn’t want to, it wasn’t good value and/or the problem wasn’t rectified.

5) Remember that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015

i) Goods shouldn’t be faulty or damaged when you get them, subject to a price reality check of course ie the greater the discount the lower the standard of expectation.

ii) Goods should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for, as well as any specific purpose you made known to the retailer before you agreed to buy the goods.

iii) Goods supplied must match any description given to you*, or any models or samples shown to you at the time of purchase.

* _as in any privately sold vehicle advertisement_

How to Resolve a Faulty Product

Here’s how to get a faulty motor product replaced or repaired within The Consumer Rights Act 2015.

a) If the vehicle in question is of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described you can claim/get a full refund within 30 days. Don’t hang about.

b) If you are outside the 30-day ‘right to reject’ you have to give the dealer or garage one opportunity to repair or replace any goods which are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described.

You can state your preference, but the retailer can normally choose whichever would be cheapest or easier for it to do. If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, you can then claim a refund or a price reduction if you wish to keep the product.

c) Check if the business concerned is part of a Trading Standards Institute scheme as in

New cars The Motor Ombudsman
Car Sales The Motor Ombudsman
RAC Used Vehicle*
Car Servicing & Repairs The Motor Ombudsman
Car Servicing & Repairs Trust My Garage*
Car Servicing & Repairs Bosch Car Service*

*they handle any complaints about their members.

And take your complaint to them once you’ve had a final/unacceptable offer from the offending business.

Don’t forget that you might have recourse from a credit card company if you used one to pay here.

Flaws Within Motor Industry Complaint Processes

I don’t know how many motorists contact the general Consumer Ombudsman or The Motor Ombudsman with a complaint about a motor business that isn’t one of their subscribers. I’d imagine quite a few are then bitterly disappointed to discover that their rogue dealer or garage isn’t covered here.

I don’t know another industry that makes such a selling point out of their complaints processes! I’d much rather the whole industry was subject to Government regulation to ‘out’ the bad guys.

If I knew nothing about the motor and automotive industry I’d not realise that both these Ombudsmen services are closed shops because they are only handling complaints concerning THEIR subscribers.

Stating the fairly obvious, bad car dealers and garages are the ones least likely to join a quality scheme yet this is where most of the complaints will come from. Regardless of the feedback they all somehow manage to produce for Google.

As things stand, motorists who make the ‘wrong’ garage or car dealer choice are stranded all too often and it costs them too much to further their cause, deterring many from using the courts or identifying offenders this way.

As I see it, the best idea is to have ONE Motor Ombudsman to cover the whole of the motor industry – regardless of whether a business subscribes to a CTSI scheme or not.

Of course ONE Motor Ombudsman scheme covering all car dealers and garages would be the equivalent of regulation (like MOTs are regulated by the DVSA) – this would be my preference.

We’d then be able to ‘out’ the (too many) bad guys and help the (too many) mediocre ones do a better job to benefit motorists and their business alike.

Sadly this would starve the Chartered Trading Standards Institute from earning out of as many competitive schemes as they can sell to, per Code Of Practice scheme. And whilst I can see a significant business case for one scheme rather than many, our current Government is no fan of regulation they tell us.

Even when the detriment is as great as it is in this area and the implications are as far reaching re car safety.

Finally it just might be significant that The Motor Ombudsman is part of The SMMT (Society Of Motor Manufacturers And Traders) and that Trust My Garage is part of the Retail Motor Industry’s Independent Garage Association. Of course they both try to be 100% impartial when it comes to customer complaints and the CTSI Code dictates how the process is managed, but I can’t help thinking about turkeys and Christmas. Like it or not, both organisations have a vested interest in shareholders and stakeholders ahead of Joanna Public.


The purpose of this blog is to alert women drivers that, if all else fails, FOXY will have a look at their complaint and possibly share their experience within The Club to benefit other female motorists. We’ll consider naming and shaming evident cowboys in our Red Card rogue gallery. By all means email info@foxyladydrivers.com and better still join The Club to support our hard work here.

Why can’t car showrooms be like travel agencies?

A new survey confirms that 3 out of every 4 male and female customers feel ill at ease in new car showrooms. Yet they are out to spend £10,000+ and often a lot more.

Carried out by Auto Trader whose extensive online presence may suggest a vested interest, this confirms what women drivers say.

Women who influence the majority of car sales and feel that pushy and poorly informed sales people make new car shopping a daunting experience.

“There’s no denying that entering a new car showroom can be overwhelming for buyers” said Matt Thompson, Group Marketing Director at Auto Trader. “In today’s testing economy, cost conscious consumers are spending cautiously and investing in a new car is a significant purchase decision to make. There’s a real opportunity for new car dealers to help put buyers at ease in the showroom. By making the buyer feel relaxed and giving them the breathing space and time to browse at their leisure they are far more likely to go ahead with a sale.”

The research also showed that half of those surveyed (50%) cited ‘perceived attitude of staff’ as further reason to feel uneasy followed by a lack of obvious price tags or costs (47%). When asked what would make the shopping experience more pleasant, half the sample wanted to browse at their leisure whereas 37% wanted more knowledgeable sales staff.

Speaking personally I don’t like the glass bowl atmosphere of most car showrooms today. Why are they all so similar?  If I am wearing heels you can hear me tapping my way around so I feel self conscious with eyes upon me; from the same floor and often looking down on me (which is coincidentally often the feeling I get from this!)

But the thing I like least of all is the fact that car buying novices like me are expected to do our buying homework outside the showroom (where the experts are) and then go through the same shopping experience in each of several shortlisted model showrooms. This takes ages and can be such a waste of time. The likes of Top Gear and car buying magazines are rarely written for me (I don’t do torque or jargon remember and I have different needs…) yet most websites seem to think equality means I want the same as men…

I don’t.

Why can’t showrooms be more like travel agencies instead? With a friendly local face to help you make the best model choice based on quality awards, performance surveys, my needs, expectations and budget. We’d chat over a cuppa and she (I’d prefer a female face given a choice…) could then tell me what my best makes/models/deals are; then introduce a sales person to take over.

And I’d like a female member of staff to take me on my test drive – that is if I can’t have the car to test over a weekend of course…

Were this all to happen, chances are many makes/models wouldn’t make it into most shopping shortlists, truth be told. Who would buy makes that languish at the bottom of safety and reliability leagues when they can choose ones that are always at the top and are clearly better value for money? They are only bought nowadays because too few motorists know they have a better choice.

But this business model could work in future and even now there are foxy dealerships providing more female friendly services and amenities than others, identifying Female Business Ambassadors for starters and employing personal shopping assistants to reduce the stress levels and minimise the time this all takes for men and women motorists alike.

One thing is for certain in my opinion – the shopping solution is not faster online services because buying a car is a major investment and one where we deserve the luxury of personal service and being spoiled. Unless you can afford to treat a new car like a disposable commodity of course or are getting a fleet car to order, it’s always best to have a known name and a local friendly face to talk to in the event of any delivery complications or future concerns. And that person becomes your loyalty link with a view to future aftersales and new car business in future, of course.


If you want a more personal car shopping advisory service, join the Club and we’ll hold your hand during the entire process…

Foxy female motorists will shop online

Pre recession, motor industry research claims that c£17m is lost by UK car dealerships every week when women drivers walk out of car showrooms.

Why do they do this and why is the industry not doing anything about this?

The reality is that there are so many subliminal reasons why, in an industry that is so used to demeaning women and is often totally oblivious to this at the very highest echelons.

For example…

It’s not just the fact that one of the leading trade magazines uses the innuendo of scantily clad dolly bird headlines and YouTube videos to tempt salesmen and mechanics to visit their website

… or the many topless model posters in garage workshops

… or the ghastly sex magazines women and children can still see on shelves in petrol stations

… or the bimbo-like eye candy that meets you at Motor exhibitions

… or the more upmarket (but equally patronising to women) fashion models draped across prestige car bonnets (because you’re worth it…).

Here is an example of what I am talking about and there are a lot more at AutoTrader’s website, titled their bonnet babe collection. See what I mean?

ghastly_bonnet_babe24The reason why women feel so ill at ease in this industry and why men don’t understand is for all of these reasons and more.

It all spells a total lack of respect for females and it is costing the UK motor industry our trust and our business.

No wonder UK showrooms, car dealerships and garages are not perceived to be a female friendly places to either work in or visit.

No wonder online services are booming.

Of course there are massive exceptions to all this and I have met many gentlemen in the motor industry who are equally as appalled by all this as me.  Those businesses listed at FOXY Choice and the new femalefriendlyapproved.com websites certainly agree and are on the right track for women customers.

But until the UK motor industry picks up on this extreme disrespect for women customers and does something about it at the very top of leading trade organisations like the SMMT and RMI then this disrespect will fester on and continue to affect sales from their biggest customer audience – female motorists – for new cars, used cars and garage services.

Mark my words, those businesses that go that extra mile to market themselves to women as female friendly, ahead of complacent competitors, will reap considerable competitive advantage in industries like the UK motor industry.

Talk to me soon guys – I’ll tell you how to do it!


Foxy females favour Fry

According to motoring website Autotrader, Stephen Fry has topped the list of female friendly celebrities that women drivers would like to have as their driving companion, followed by Simon Cowell.

Nailing my favours to the mast, I can only imagine that Daniel Craig wasn’t on the list…

The good news is surely that women drivers wanted to spend time with a witty conversationalist who is clearly considered as female friendly ie Stephen Fry than someone who makes his money out of adding to the typically empty-headed, vain and giddy celebrities who adorn the likes of Hello and OK magazines (and ahead of other empty-headed celebrities who appeared lower in this list..).

Do I detect a waning of the  ‘celebrity’ love affair – the coming of a similar fall from grace for easy come celebrities, a la politicians and bankers?

Or am I just having a grumpy day? Time for a late lunch.