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.
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.