The VBRA Code of Practice

This deals with estimates for vehicle body repair work and guarantees.

a. Where estimates are given it should be made clear that they are estimates only and therefore the cost may vary.
b. If a charge is to be made in order for the garage to look at the car and give an estimate then the customer has to be notified in advance. The VAT position must also be clarified i.e. whether the estimate includes VAT or not.
c. Any guarantees given must last for at least 12 months or 12,000 miles and be transferable to subsequent owners.
There is also a complaints procedure. The complaint must first be made to the garage/trader. If this produces no results then the Local Trading Standards Officer of the Local Authority can be contacted. They can either write a letter to the garage/trader or visit the premises themselves to try and obtain further information. Alternatively the help of a local Citizens' Advice Bureau or Consumer Advice Centre can be sought to write a letter.
If this does not produce any results then the VBRA have a conciliation service where a complaint can be referred to an independent examiner appointed by the Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors. The examiner will decide whether a settlement is appropriate.
If the trader cannot pay because they have ceased trading or gone into liquidation, the VBRA have a "contingency fund" from which payments can be made. Arbitration is available as a last resort when a decision can be made but on a documents only basis.