Opinion: Block Exemption is useless if motorists are unaware of it

GW columnist, Aaron Phillips concerned motorists are being told they will void warranty if independents service their car

Opinion: Block Exemption is useless if motorists are unaware of it
Image: Bigstock.

Working as a director at a family run independent garage, Block Exemption and the ‘right to repair’ have always been a big thing for me.

Aaron Phillips of Jackson & Phillips Automotive Services in Leighton Buzzard.

Being able to service or repair any car or van at any time is important for independent garages.

So what is block exemption and what does it mean for the independents?

Without going into too much detail, Block Exemption Regulation (BER) 2002 includes clauses intended to increase choice when it comes to servicing a new car, meaning the customer is not obliged to have their vehicle serviced by a franchised dealer as a condition of warranty.

As long as the independent garage is using manufacturer approved parts, following manufacturer service schedules and is VAT registered they can service any car or van from the 1st service.

Block Exemption also helps independent garages access technical and repair information from the manufacturer – all be it at a cost.

Alongside the information access we also have access to online service history, meaning we can view vehicle service history in order to make an assessment of which service is required for that particular vehicle.

It also means we can update and make entries in the online history of a vehicle.

“Motorists don’t know we can service their new car”

Even though we can do all this, the regulation doesn’t help if motorists don’t know that we can service their new car.

In a survey carried out by Halfords it was found that almost half (44 per cent) of drivers still think they would invalidate their warranty if they didn’t take their car to the dealer in the warranty period.

My colleagues and I have taken many phone calls over the years from people who have been told by the company that they bought the car from that they have to come back to the dealership in order to maintain their warranty – and these are just the people who decided to question the information they were given.

It means we have to spend time correcting what they have been told and even then sometimes people just don’t want to take the risk.

We use posters in reception and posts on social media to try and get the message across.

Main dealer misinformation

As recently as last week a long standing customer called to cancel a booking for a service on his new car, the dealer who sold the car to him had called to arrange the first service and when our customer told them that he had booked the service with us he was told that this would invalidate his warranty.

The ironic part is that the same dealer would have supplied the parts had we done the job anyway.

I decided on this occasion I would call the dealership and find out why my customer was being told something completely false.

I did get an apology and the promise of an investigation.

My customer was also called to confirm what I had said was correct.

I honestly felt like taking it further because what is stopping them doing it again?

Hopefully writing this article will raise awareness and possibly make anyone who reads it think twice before giving out the wrong information, intentionally or not.

Share your Block Exemption comments and experiences below.

Home Page Forums Opinion: Block Exemption is useless if motorists are unaware of it

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Steven Paterson 1 week, 3 days ago.

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
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  • #174830 Reply

    Peter

    Yes we have had the same experience hundreds of times. Don’t think you are winning the battle though because if and when you get the customer convinced, the dealer will try to devalue the vehicle at sale time because it has not been dealer serviced.
    The motor industry has far more than its fair share of crooks, poorly or untrained people and plain idiots. It urgently needs to get its act together or there wont be any independent or small dealers and the customers choice will disappear.

    #174859 Reply

    Ben

    I was recently in a Porsche dealership collecting parts for a job we were doing and overheard one of their salesmen completing handover of a new vehicle. Having been in sales for years prior to working in my family run garage, I took great interest in what he was saying. I was quite surprised to hear him emphasise very strongly that the owner should only bring their Macan to the main dealer for servicing as using an independent would ‘probably’ void their warranty, not least because they could not guarantee that OEM parts would be used and after market parts were inferior (I laughed a little given as I was there for OEM parts), he then went on to say that using an independent for servicing would also de-value their vehicle when they came to sell it not only privately but also to a dealer even if it was carried out by a ‘so-called’ specialist.

    The pitch came from him very fluently and was clearly ingrained (whether by himself or from the top down), either way, it’s toxic and given Block exemption, should be banned.

    #174849 Reply

    Steven Paterson
    Participant

    I would like to know what parts are OEM approved for warranty purposes, because I have seen several garages promote the ability to carry our warranty safe servicing while fitting what they assume are quality oem approved parts (and many of them are not oem approved), we need someone who claims to represent our industry to tell us what brands are 100% warranty safe brands to use, rather than people fitting parts that once had a brand name that have now become boxing companies for cheap chinese parts using a popular name to sell there product (usually bought buy a factor), our thoughts are if it’s not Tier 1 or OEM it’s not warranty safe

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)

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