Consumer: Is the motor industry still chauvinistic?

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A growing network of garages wants to get the car industry female-friendly, and lose the sexist tag forever.

Women drivers are being urged to fight back against one of the last bastions of chauvinism – rip-off motor mechanics who try to charge them more purely because of their gender.

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A major new survey has revealed that women still feel they are treated differently to men by their garages and car mechanics.

Over half of the women surveyed admitted to asking a male friend or family member to accompany them to a garage when their car needs service or repair work doing, in a bid to be treated fairly.

The Approved Garages survey also showed that nearly 50 per cent of women have mentioned a partner or husband when booking their car into a garage so they won’t get ripped off.

The survey targeted female drivers throughout the UK between the ages of 18 to 60-plus.

Respondents were asked if they believed that the car industry had become more female friendly in recent years.

The good news for the industry was that almost half of the women stated they did believe that the industry had improved its attitude slightly.

But most of the women polled still believed they were being over-charged, and often felt intimidated.

More than a third of the respondents admitting to having had an unpleasant experience whilst dealing with a garage.

One 37-year-old woman said: “When I dropped my car off I was told to put the kettle on!

“I didn’t get a proper response when I asked what work had been done on my car and was treated like an imbecile.”

Another angry female driver said: “One garage tried to tell me that I needed £1,000 of work doing when in fact there was nothing wrong.

“I think they thought I wouldn’t question it or ask for a second opinion and I would just pay.”

When it comes to complaining to a garage about their level of satisfaction with the work or service received, it is the 50+ age group who feel the most confident in doing so.

Of those questioned in this age group, 86 percent said they would complain if they felt they needed to.

The least likely to complain were women aged between 20-29.

Phil Seymour, Approved Garages network manager, said: “One of our aims within the network of Approved Garages is to change the long-held belief that all mechanics and garages are sexist.

“Our wish is that female drivers should feel as confident and as comfortable visiting one of our garages as our male customers do.”

He also urged ladies to take advantage of the wealth of freely available information, and arm themselves before visiting a garage, thereby avoiding any unpleasant encounters.

“Developing more confidence and knowledge about cars is so easy these days thanks to the Internet,” he said.

“Our website has plenty of handy hints and there are lots of basic car maintenance educational videos out there.

“Otherwise check the owner manual.

“This will tell you all about your car, how often you should have it serviced and when certain parts need to be replaced.”

Approved Garages is a network of independently owned garages, which offers car services, MOTs and repair works to be booked through their website www.approvedgarages.co.uk.

Mr Seymour said all member garages have been carefully selected before becoming an Approved Garage.

Each has an RAC inspection carried out as they join, and the process is repeated every two years.

Member garages have full approval of the Trading Standards Institute (TSI).

This makes them Motor Codes certified, which means they are committed to an open transparent and fair way of doing business.

Motor Codes was set up by the motor industry to act as the self-regulatory body for the automotive sector and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The Service and Repair Code was developed as a means of recognising quality within the motor industry and promoting peace of mind for motorists.

THE FAIR DEAL PLEDGE

Motor Codes is the Government-backed, self-regulatory body for the motor industry.

It has thousands of voluntary members who have pledged to maintain high standards throughout the new car sales process, administration of new car warranties and car service and repair.

Motor Codes also offers protection and standards, a free advice line and dispute resolution service.

Other services include an MOT reminder by email.

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