As a consumer am I given any kind of protection when taking my vehicle in to get repairs?

Required vehicle repairs

Taking a motor vehicle into a garage in order to get it repaired is an issue which will have to be dealt with by individuals on a daily basis. In certain scenarios when taking a car in to be repaired the consumer can be put at a disadvantage due to their own lack of knowledge concerning what may be wrong with the vehicle.

Accordingly it is imperative that a consumer is given some kind of protection in this transaction.

The VBRA Code of Practice

What is the VBRA?

The VBRA is the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association and is the lead Trade Association for Vehicle Body Building, Car Body and SMART repair.

The VBRA is a consumer friendly. Member driven organisation which is structured to best represent and assist its members within their sectors and with their interaction with their customers.

Members of the VBRA

If a garage whereby you take your car to receive repairs is a member of the VBRA they will be able to display the VBRA Logo which is in conjunction with the Office of Fair Trading. If a company carries this logo it means that they will be approved by the Office of Fair Trading and accordingly will provide adequate protection for consumers.

What does the VBRA Code of Practice deal with?

The VBRA Code of Practice deals with the following issues:

  • Where estimates for work have been given it must be made clear to the consumer that these are estimates only and that the cost may therefore vary
  • In some situations a garage may need to make a charge in order to examine the car in order to give an estimate. If this is the case the customer must be notified in advance
  • The position in relation to VAT must also be clarified to the consumer, for example whether or not the estimate includes VAT
  • If a guarantee is given this must last for at least 12 months or 12,000 miles and must also be transferable to any subsequent owners

Is there a complaints procedure under the VBRA Code of Practice?

There is a complaints procedure under the VBRA Code of Practice. Under this procedure the complaint must first be made to the garage or trader.

What happens if this does not settle the issue?

If this initial process does not settle the complaint then the Local Trading Standards Officer or the Local Authority can be brought in to help the complainant.

What can the Local Trading Standards Officer do?

The Local Trading Standards Officer can either write a letter to the garage or trader or make a visit to the premises to try and obtain any further information.

What happens if this still fails to produce any results?

If this still fails to produce any results the VBRA operates a conciliation service where a complaint can be referred to an independent examiner to be appointed by the Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors.

What will the examiner decide?

The examiner will make a decision as to whether a settlement is the appropriate way to settle the complaint.

What will happen if the trader cannot pay the settlement?

In certain circumstances the trader may not be able to pay the settlement due to having gone into liquidation. When this happens the VBRA has a contingency fund in order to make payments.