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Garages ‘rip off’ their customers

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A new report has found that many garages charge inflated prices for their services. Mike Collins takes to the road to find out more  

A recent survey by Warranty Direct amongst 3,000 garages across the country has found that some garages are charging ‘extortionate’ labour fees of up to £170 an hour for routine service work.

The highest rates were in London, but 80% of regions surveyed across the UK had labour charges peaking at more than £100 per hour. However, one spokesperson for the motor industry said that the findings were ‘misleading’.

One fact that no one disputed, however, is the marked price differences between franchised dealers and independent garages. These are at their widest in the West Midlands, the survey said, with the cheapest franchise charging £66.35 an hour and peaking at £117.45, while the cheapest independent came in at £23.50

<>p> Overall, the highest charges were levied in the south east and London, with the average fee coming in at £116.53 an hour and the most expensive £170 an hour.

Duncan McClure Fisher, spokesperson for Warranty Direct, said: “Garage rates are still extortionate, but motorists can help themselves by asking how much they charge an hour. Unfortunately, once you get the bill, it’s too late to yell.”

Matthew Carrington, chief executive of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, said there were good reasons for the price differences. “Franchised dealer labour rates are higher overall because of the extra costs these businesses incur in order to meet the standards expected by both consumers and car manufacturers.”

He continued: “Costs are naturally highest for businesses in metropolitan areas, especially central London. Those in the regions will be able to charge less as because their overheads are lower.”

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