Automotive Blog

Taking the plunge

Taking The Plunge Image

When working in the automotive industry, it’s often easy to forget that most people don’t know a lot about their cars, or what they should be charged for servicing and repairs. Some players in the industry certainly haven’t forgotten this. In fact, many have managed to dominate the marketplace on this very fact, pricing their services at a premium and offering their customers a reassurance against being ‘ripped off’ … the irony is clear.

In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Alistair Preston, co-creator of the rapidly growing website, explained the importance of creating transparency in a marketplace infamous for keeping their customers in the dark and independent dealers shackled to an outdated reputation for shady activity and grimy mechanics. The aftersales market in the UK has been ripe for revolution for decades now, and it seems that, and other sites offering a similar service, may be one step in the direction of helping independent repairers compete effectively with their franchised counterparts, and putting the ball back in the customers’ court.

I recently had a first-hand experience with when faced with the daunting prospect of taking my car in for service, for the very first time. I’d already put it off long enough and my mileage was creeping up fast, so I reluctantly resigned to doing a bit of research into finding a garage to do the work. I was recommended a local franchised repairer by the garage that sold me the car, and on being quoted, I almost cried out in shock- £300! Having no idea how this compared to others I consulted friends and family, who despite decades of experience, couldn’t answer whether this was a lot, or very little. Thank god for because as it turns out, it was a lot.

I posted my service job on the site, and within a few days two local workshops had responded with very comprehensive quotes. The first was from a different franchised dealer, who managed to shave £80 off the cost straight away, including a courtesy car and a full clean: two things the original dealer hadn’t offered. The second was from a (very) independent garage, who gave me a price that was just a third of the original quote. He didn’t offer any of the extras the franchised dealer had but he offered to come and collect my car and had Saturday hours too! It seemed too good to be true.

After extensively reading reviews, I decided to take the plunge and go for it, even after the numerous sarcastic ‘good lucks’ and raised eyebrows I got from friends and family, I just couldn’t justify forking out triple the cost to avoid my own doubts.

As the reviewers had promised, the mechanic was lovely, the service went without a hitch and although recommending some advisory work, he didn’t push me to spend any more. Although the car was unwashed and the garage had been a little out of my way, I happily handed over the cash and drove off, feeling pretty smug with myself.

This is just one experience, and it’s not just about price, the cheapest quote offered on is only picked by customers 37% of the time. So maybe the industry is far from full scale revolution, but there’s a reason was named one of the UK’s top disruptive businesses in 2015. With 6000 registered garages and over 118,000 users, it is clear that the website is aiding the UK in evolving its aftersales market. Attitudes are changing; all across the country, more and more people are offering a raised eyebrow and a sarcastic “good luck” to those forking out big money to the few taking advantage of an opaque, outdated industry.


Written by Lucy Langdon

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