If you have experienced a problem with your vehicle, such as a bad repair, then you are advised to speak to the garage which was responsible. However, if you are not able to come to a suitable resolution with the garage in question, then you may want to consider speaking to a trade association that the garage may be affiliated with.
A trade association will have a code of standards that each member should follow. Failing to follow the association’s code can lead to a trader being dismissed from that particular association.
These trade associations are also able to offer conciliation or arbitration services to public to help them to sort out problems with members.
How to find out which association the garage is part of
The simplest way to find out if the garage is a member of a particular organisation is to ask the garage owner directly. You can also look on their paperwork, office window, garage wall or website to see if you can spot any relevant association logos. Most garages will display their association membership with pride, as it can help them to get custom.
Alternatively, the majority of the large trade associations have search functions on their websites, so you will be able to search for your particular garage on each individual trade website.
Main trade associations
There are four main vehicle trade associates in the United Kingdom; Motor Codes Limited, Retail Motor Industry Federation; Motor Cycle Industry Federation and the Scotland Motor Trade Federation. A garage can be a member of more than one of these associations, but they do not have to be affiliated with any of them.
If they are a member
If you establish that the garage which you are in a dispute with is actually a member of one (or more) of these trade associations, then you can get in contact with that particular association to explain your problem. They should explain their code of standards to you, so that you will be able to understand whether what they have done is in breach of the code of standards. If the trade association agrees that the garage may have broken their code of standards, then they should set out to you what they will do to try to help to negotiate a fair resolution in your case.
Although a trade association can apply gentle pressure and may even threaten to cease a garage’s membership, they do not have any legal powers in relation to your claim. A trade association will not be able to help you in a case which involves a garage that is not a member.
Small Claims Court
If the trade association is not able to help you to come to a satisfactory resolution, then you may be able to take your claim to the small claims court. You will be expected to outline your claim and give evidence to support it. However, if you lose the claim, you may have to pay legal fees for the garage.