Tag Archives: FOXY Choice

FOXY Choice is the sister business of FOXY Lady Drivers Club identifying the really good and female friendly garages nationwide, including a Good Garage Guide for motorists

FOXY Lady Approved accident repair centres are the GOOD NEWS to celebrate

Last night Channel 4’s Dispatches programme broadcast a report about car insurance and what happens when you need it most, at claims time and following an accident.

During it the OFT described the industry as dysfunctional and Malcolm Tagg, the CEO of VBRA (the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association), said that some insurer practices were immoral which gives you a clue about the tone of the programme.

We were looking at a purported culture that puts insurer profits ahead of doing the right thing in many cases and if some of the examples of cavalier management dismissing safety concerns are in any way typical, I’d be very very depressed indeed.

But they aren’t of course; they’re simply exceptions to do with the very small percentage of bad businesses (insurers and repairers alike) that are allowed to survive in their respective industries.

And we must now leave the Competition Commission to do its job re the all too common, short term and highly unsavoury mutual back scratching referral practices that are never in the long term best interests of the motorist – we who are expected to foot the bill for such folly.

Coincidentally this programme was aired on the same day as we launched our new FOXY Lady Approved© Accident Repair Centre network at the FOXY Choice website. Rest assured there are some fabulous and caring bodyshop and SMART repairer businesses out there who deserve more support on the basis of their investment in quality and processes to improve customer service.

We’re promoting them to women drivers and members of the Club of course via the FOXY Lady Drivers Club website as well. Accredited technicians, Kitemark licensees, manufacturer approval and those that operate to an OFT Approved Code are the standards we see as a cut above the rest.

We also welcome the sight of women in customer facing roles and, whilst quality is no guarantee of a genuinely female friendly business we’ve found, all FOXY Lady Approved© businesses have to sign a promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need’ before we’ll consider any application to join us.

Yes, I can hear some of you thinking… ‘none of this should be necessary’ but the problem is that the perception it will is there in the female mind. Too many women think the motor industry is out to get them by baffling them with jargon and ripping them off. A perception based on the scattergun promotion of industry complaints schemes we’re not used to seeing elsewhere perhaps but regularly topped up by real life negative (but well-intentioned) programmes like Dispatches…

Instead, I’d like to see more good news about the motor industry making it onto the public radar on occasion. How about some publicity about FOXY Choice giving motorists a female friendly choice so that all motorists, not just female ones, can rely on higher, more ethical and caring standards from tried and tested repairers after an accident that inevitably leaves them out of pocket, inconvenienced, considerably stressed and sometimes with very serious injuries and consequences to cope with afterwards.

Now that would be welcome news to hear for a change.


Community car care for Over 65s

It’s been a hard slog for all us motorists since 2008 and whilst the news is that the recession COULD be over nobody is feeling convinced or confident yet.

So a business that continues to give something back to help local motorists run safer cars in the community for less money is well worth a pat on the back in FOXY’s book.

Especially when the business is a member of the FOXY Choice approved female friendly garage network in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. We’re talking about Roy Chapman Ltd and their latest offer is for locals over 65; for Ford professionals to check their car’s lights, oil and coolant levels.

They’re also promising a wash and vacuum for the car as well, completely free of charge.

The point is to make sure their cars are roadworthy, recognising that many motorists are cutting back on maintenance and servicing for financial reasons.

Roy Chapman’s free car care offer includes the following checks:

Tyre condition and pressures, including tyre pressure adjustments where needed
Brake fluid level including top up if required
Full lights check
Battery condition including battery test
Engine oil levels including top up (up to 1 litre)
Coolant level and strength including top up
Operation of air conditioning
Windscreen wiper condition and operation
Windscreen washer operation including top up
Visual inspection of brake pads and discs (where possible)
Visual body inspection
Car clean consisting of an exterior wash and interior vacuum

Aftersales Director Jeremy Chapman explains “We wanted to remind everyone about our free offer for over 65’s, especially as winter approaches. Colder weather and icy conditions means a healthy vehicle is absolutely essential to avoid literally getting ‘caught out in the cold’.”

And a poorly maintained car can be dangerous so this is a really caring car initiative to identify any safety issues before they become more serious or unnecessarily expensive. An all round good thing and a sign of a genuinely caring business that is getting service levels right for women and their cars.


First to offer FOXY employee benefit scheme

Safe and Sound is the first employer to sign up to FOXY Lady Drivers Club’s employee benefit scheme, designed to help reduce staff stress levels to do with all aspects of their everyday motoring.

Every female member of staff has been given a free membership of the Club by Buckinghamshire-based WMS Group who owns Safe and Sound, and all male colleagues are encouraged to nominate a foxy lady to receive their staff benefit.

“FOXY is becoming the female voice of motoring in the UK because someone needs to speak up for our gender on occasion” says founder and MD Steph Savill. “For example, too many female motorists have found themselves ripped off, patronised or sold something they didn’t need, either in garages or car showrooms. I’m deeply encouraged to see Safe and Sound come on board with the FOXY ethos as well as supporting their female team members in such a caring way.”

What Women Want

Safe and Sound was developed in 2010 after WMS Group conducted extensive research into consumer behaviour which revealed that all buyers wanted reassurance that their car was road legal, safe to drive, didn’t have a hidden past and was being sold at a fair price.

It was also clear that many women had the final say on the car purchase and yet they were more likely than men to struggle to find a dealership they could trust not to sell them a dud.

So Safe and Sound has become a transparent programme which addresses these buyer concerns and promotes good businesses, much as FOXY is doing in its own way.

Staff benefit scheme

Our staff are delighted to have received their FOXY Lady Drivers Club membership,” says Steph Colinswood, Safe and Sound’s marketing manager “as many of them know little about cars.”

“Having access to the Club reassures them that they’re equipped with the knowledge and empowerment that comes with this level of motoring support. As a female-friendly employer we also believe lifetime Club membership for only £23 represents terrific value for money, especially as it doesn’t just cover the member but also her entire household.”

“By working with FOXY, we’re helping to spread their message and look forward to funding memberships for many more female employees in the future as WMS Group continues to expand. As a not-for-profit organisation, FOXY is unbiased and honest, and like us they’re passionate about the motor industry and making a stand for female equality. We’ll do all we can to help FOXY promote their fantastic business and are excited to be working with them.”

Coincidentally, last week WMS Group welcomed its first female account manager, responsible for seeking new dealerships to work with in this traditionally male-dominated industry.

To find your nearest Safe and Sound dealership, visit www.SafeandSound.co.uk.

If you are a business interested in joining the Safe and Sound network, see www.SafeandSound.co.uk/dealers.

To find out about FOXY Choice’s female friendly garage network, visit www.foxychoice.com

Protyre tackles student safety on our roads

If the outer rim is covered your tyre is legal; if not you need professional advice from a tyre fitter you can trust..
Here is some sensible and timely advice for students from leading tyre retailer Protyre.

Many new students are about to start their new term at university. Costs are a particular issue this year because students starting new degree courses are bearing the full brunt of the new tuition fees of up to £9000 pa. Not only that but the cost of car insurance is often greater than the value of the car students are driving and it could be that other motoring bills are postponed in these circumstances.

Protyre certainly appreciates this situation and is doing three important things to help here.

1 Tyre advice
For starters Protyre is advising students not to neglect their tyres or brakes because any such shortcut could seriously compromise their personal safety and that of their passengers as well as others on the road.

2 Free safety check
To help students run cars that are as safe as possible Protyre is now offering students a free 5-point safety check at any of their 49 retail UK outlets. These checks will include tyres, brakes, wipers, under bonnet fluids and lights.

3 A special discount voucher

Finally, recognising the financial imperative, any student who calls in for a free safety check can claim a £10.00 discount voucher redeemable over the coming 12 months on a car service, replacement tyres or brakes.

Staying safe on the road is of paramount importance to young drivers and tyres are the one component that are often overlooked and often allowed to drop below the legal minimum of 1.6mm.

“We have one of the best ranges of good quality tyres at competitive servicing prices,” said Micheldever Retail Director, Simon Hiorns “and our retail centres are all members of the OFT approved Code of Practice for all service and repair work. This means we can provide MOT, car servicing and mechanical repairs at great prices as well as offering advice so students select the right tyre for their car and driving conditions. We recommend that students DO NOT use or buy part worn tyres; we know from experience that too many are illegal and potentially dangerous.”

This echoes FOXY sentiments entirely and now that the Protyre Group are members of the FOXY Choice female friendly garage network ALL motorists can rest assured that they have signed the FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they don’t need or want to buy.’

This is particularly important in an industry with a poor reputation for selling motorists expensive tyres they don’t need, whether they’re male or female, young or old…

Full details of the range and prices for tyres together with a full list of the Protyre outlets please visit www.protyre.co.uk.

Yet another ‘rip-off garage’ survey; this time in West Sussex

How much did you say?My blood boils when I read about bad garage surveys. The latest states that only one out of eight garages tested by West Sussex Trading Standards carried out all the required work on a test car with known problems.

Imagine the safety implications here. Not just the vulnerability of many female motorists but the accidents that badly repaired or inadequately serviced cars can cause for us all.

We can’t prove it for obvious reasons but we suspect that many women on their own don’t complain because they don’t realise they’ve been ripped off or, even worse, despatched with a car that’s unsafe.

Why am I surprised by rip-off garages?

No-one should be surprised that garage surveys like this produce these such shameful results across the UK. This is an unregulated industry where
+ anyone can open a garage
+ mechanics don’t have to be qualified
+ the industry’s Motor Codes scheme covers dealerships/garages that opt-in (and bad garages don’t for obvious reasons); an added complication is that HM Government runs this ‘OFT approved code’ scheme and is reliant on the subscriptions from it
+ the Trading Standards recommended scheme ‘Buy With Confidence’ merely covers customer service issues (not any measurable quality workmanship that should underpins the business).

Even worse, few motorists realise this or the risk they run when choosing any garage.

FOXY would like all car mechanics to be accredited

Why is it that gas fitters, plumbers and electricians need to be qualified to practise their trade but mechanics don’t? Yet they can repair safety issues such as the brakes on our cars.

The perfect solution is the Institute of the Motor Industry’s ATA accreditation scheme where mechanics are assessed, sign an ethical commitment and have to do it all over again three years later. Regardless of whether they are dealership or garage employees, all mechanics should be required to take this test before working on our cars.

And what a shame WSTS is unable to publish the names of the offending garages here. When we’ve asked about this in the past Trading Standards have said ‘we can’t tell you for legal reasons…’ which is a cop out we feel – knowing how many vulnerable women are prey to the unscrupulous and/or incompetent garage staff out there.

West Sussex garage survey details

West Sussex County Council’s Press Release PR4996 confirms that a selection of garages were targeted on this occasion following complaints from members of the public. This is worrying in itself because it indicates a history of shoddy workmanship rather than a one-off mistake which can be forgiven. A test car was prepared beforehand by Trading Standards and then taken to each garage for a service and pre MOT check.

Examples of rip-off garage behaviour this time include
+ an oil filter which was charged for but not changed
+ a tyre was said to be damaged when it wasn’t
+ a part of an exhaust was said to need replacing when it wasn’t faulty
+ an engine was overfilled with oil (which can be as costly as too little oil)
+ extra work was done and charged for without permission
+ low tyre pressures were not checked/topped up (with potential safety implications here).

Formal action is now being considered by Trading Standards against four of the garages.

Christine Field, County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “Motorists need to be able to trust their garages won’t exploit them, as most people are unlikely to be able to check the claims for themselves. In the present economic climate, people are feeling the pinch, and need to be able to rely on work being done competently.”

We wholeheartedly agree Christine but the only way we’ll ever see this is through industry regulation. In the meantime, the best solution is for female motorists to join FOXY Lady Drivers Club so we can identify, monitor and share the details of the best garages together. In this way women drivers can steer clear of the rest (and tell their menfolk of course).

To find out more about this subject read FOXY’s Good Garage Guide.

To find out which garages have signed the FOXY Promise ‘to never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need’ in West Sussex please visit the FOXY Choice website and its female friendly garage network.

To tell us about good, bad or indifferent garages/dealerships in West Sussex please leave your female garage feedback here.

If you have a problem with a garage, you can contact the marvellous Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506. But even they won’t know the inside story here and what the many logos and competing quality schemes actually need. For informed advice, information, assistance and support female motorists can also contact FOXY Lady Drivers Club (FOXY as in shrewd, canny and discerning which is what women need to be when choosing a garage)…

We’re also a not for profit and 100% independent company which means we really are doing it all for the motorist. If you’d like to know more, read what the Daily Telegraph said about us (and Mandy, a Scottish widow in particular) and this very issue.