Law guide: Complaints and disputes

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Garages provide both goods, such as parts, and services, like repairs or testing.

Finding a reliable garage

Look for an established business with a good reputation. Find a member of a trade association – this should mean the garage follows a code of practice.

A reliable garage will do some or all of the following:

  • Display a menu of fixed-cost work
  • Tell you how much they'll charge to diagnose a fault
  • Have trained staff and display certificates
  • Have a complaints procedure

Getting work done

Before getting any work done, you should:

  • Find out how long the work will take and agree a collection time;
  • Check whether the garage will fit the manufacturer's parts;
  • Find out if the work will be guaranteed and for how long, then get this in writing;
  • Agree the cost; and
  • Ask them to prepare an itemised bill.

Before service

In addition to the above, you'll need to know what the service covers. Ask whether it covers engine, brakes, electrics, steering, bodywork, suspension and the parts that will be replaced as part of the service.

Before repair

Get a written quotation. If you want to accept it, mark it with the word 'accepted', sign and date it, and return it to the garage owner. If a quotation is accepted, you're not obliged to pay more and will be within your rights to pay the price you agreed. Avoid estimates as these are just an informed guess.

If you don't know what's wrong, first get a price for a diagnosis and make it clear that any further work will need your approval.

After repair

After the work is finished ensure that you:

  • See any parts the garage has removed;
  • Ask for an invoice or receipt, and all relevant guarantees; and
  • Keep all the paperwork.

If things go wrong

Contact the garage as soon as you can, explain the problem and give them the chance to correct it. Keep a record of all contact, including dates, times, and what was said.

If you don't get the outcome you want, put your complaint in writing to the garage manager and send a copy to any trade association the garage belongs to. The association may be able to resolve the dispute.

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