HL Deb 13 April 1981 vol 419 cc857-8WA
Lord Granville of Eye

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will state what organisation exists for the protection of car owners against excessive garage charges for repair work when no written quotation is possible and no scale of work exists.

Lord Trefgarne

If a price for car repairs is not agreed in advance the garage is entitled to charge a "reasonable price". If the car owner and the garage cannot agree whether the price is reasonable the owner can seek advice from a solicitor, his local Citizens' Advice Bureau or a motoring organisation of which he is a member. If no agreement proves possible the matter can ultimately only be resolved by the civil courts.

Car owners who trade with members of the Motor Agents' Association, the Scottish Motor Trade Association or the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, however, have additional protection as a result of the recently strengthened code of practice which has been drawn up by the associations in consultation with the Director-General of Fair Trading. This requires that the garage shall provide a firm written quotation whenever possible for all major repairs and an estimate when this is not possible. In the latter case the garage must seek the customer's instructions if it becomes clear later that the estimate will be exceeded by a significant amount. The associations will also be prepared to conciliate any disputes between car owners and their members and offer an arbitration service as an alternative to court proceedings.

I have arranged for a copy of the revised code of practice to be placed in the Library.