Norfolk garages face Trading Standards ‘mystery shopper’ test over car services

Trading Standards officers from Norfolk County Council are carrying out a mystery shopper test on the county's garages. Trading Standards officers from Norfolk County Council are carrying out a mystery shopper test on the county's garages.

Thursday, March 20, 2014
11:57 AM

Watchdogs from Trading Standards have posed as customers to see whether Norfolk drivers get what they pay for when they book their cars into the county’s garages.

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And they have warned that garages could find themselves prosecuted if they do not carry out work on vehicles to a good standard.

The mystery shopping survey has seen cars with a number of known faults put in for servicing. The faults have been assessed and recorded by an independent engineer and trading standards officers say they are typical issues that garages should spot during a service.

They range in severity from faults that may only need notifying to the owner after the service, through to problems that if left could pose a safety risk.

The cars will then be retested when they are picked up, to find out whether the problems have been spotted and mended, whether the garage carried out the work they said they would, or whether work or parts were unnecessarily added to the bill.

Jon Peddle, of Norfolk County Council, who leads the Trading Standards team carrying out the survey, said: “Cars are far and away the most complained-about consumer issue, but it’s difficult for us to properly follow up complaints about servicing and repairs on cars because we can never be sure what condition they were in when they were taken to a garage.

“This campaign is designed to put the garages we’ve targeted through their paces. It will show us if they’ve carried out their work with reasonable care and skill and if it’s been done in a way that was described and agreed to by their customers. “We know from Trading Standards surveys carried out across the country that there’s a wide diversity in the standards of servicing from minor checks not being carried out to more serious matters, including not replacing items and even charging for items not actually used or fitted.

“Obviously, we hope all the garages we have used here in Norfolk carry out their work to a good standard, but if we find that they haven’t, we will consider taking action, including prosecution, if the particular circumstances warrant it.”

Dan Roper, cabinet member for public protection added: “In a rural county like ours, people are reliant on their cars so keeping them in good condition and well maintained is a major cost for many Norfolk residents.

“And when it comes to young drivers and vulnerable members of our community, they can be disproportionately affected when things go wrong.

“All car owners should expect to be confident that they get what they pay for when they take their car for a service.

“This survey is designed to drive up standards in the car servicing market, make our roads safer and support reputable car servicers who would never dream of doing anything but giving their customers a fair deal.”

5 comments

  • Oh dear thats the end of the road for one norwich main dealer then mention no names worst garage i have ever used,they lie for each other also. T N !....

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    paf1

    Friday, March 21, 2014

  • So we do not know who fit parts not needed or who carries out unwanted work or who did not do jobs properly or even who did not do the jobs charged for..Yep, that will make them think it's not worth the risk... How will things ever improve if we are being left unaware of who the cowboys are?? NCC & their Trading Standards team are simply part of the problem, not a solution, if they know who is trading fraudulently & choose not to warn us of who to avoid.

    Report this comment

    el84

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • What is the point of spending public money on exercises like this when the results are not put in the public domain. If the garages knew they would be named and shamed, like food outlets, then perhaps it would make them up their game. I have taken my car back on more than one occasion because I was not happy with the servicing of it. On one occasion it was completely re serviced because the mechanic had screwed up. Services are not cheap nowadays and we should know who is doing the job properly.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • How soon can we expect to see these Trading Standards survey tests published so the public can see the garages that carry out work correctly and those that do not?

    Report this comment

    mike smith

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Garages are like many other businesses in Norfolk, not fit for purpose.

    Report this comment

    nicholas dasey

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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