Consumer champion Which? is bidding to banish bodge jobs by launching an endorsement scheme to help restore public confidence in traders after its research revealed that just three in ten (28%) expect them to act in their best interests.
Which? was prompted to act after its monthly consumer surveys found that while consumers in the capital are happy with the choice of trade services available, they were lacking in confidence when selecting one and even less sure about avoiding being ripped off.
Which? Trusted Traders will help individuals make an informed choice to find the best traders in their local area and will allow the firms themselves to differentiate themselves from the competition and attract more business.
The launch of the scheme also coincides with the Trading Standards Institute’s National Consumer Week (November 4-10) which is focussing on buying used cars.
Which? Trusted Traders will initially focus on car repair and home improvement traders in London and the Home Counties.
Consumers can visit http://trustedtraders.
In order to become a Which? Trusted trader, firms have to pass a rigorous and independent assessment process that includes a face-to-face evaluation by a professional assessor, a company credit check and vetting of customer references.
Endorsed firms are then able to use the Which? Trusted Traders logo on their vehicles, letterheads and business cards and have the opportunity to feature in a printed directory that will be distributed to thousands of households in London.
Which? Trusted Traders is also partnering with Ombudsman Services for the initiative so that consumers and traders are able to settle any significant disputes that may arise.
Barney McCarthy, Which? Trusted Traders spokesperson, said:
“We all sometimes need the services of a trader, be it a plumber, a builder or a mechanic. It can be an expensive process – and an emotive one in the case of car crash repairs or damage to a property – so the last thing consumers want to feel is that they are being ripped off by traders not acting in their best interests.
“We are launching Which? Trusted Traders to give consumers the confidence to make the right choices when it comes to finding skilled professionals and to give traders the chance to distinguish themselves from their peers. This scheme will provide a useful, free resource to the capital’s consumers and will help banish the bodge jobs.”
HM Bodyshop is a family-run automotive crash repair specialist based in Colindale, North London. It is run by managing director Jon Herzig and his wife Alex and was established in 2001, although the Herzig family’s involvement in the motor trade dates back over 45 years.
The business was one of the first companies to be endorsed by the Which? Trusted Traders scheme, with Jon identifying similarities between the application process and the procedure the insurance companies they deal with insist upon. He says: “Our aim is to keep our customers happy at all times and if they can see we have been endorsed by an organisation as respected as Which?, it gives them the reassurance and peace of mind that they are having their vehicle repaired by someone who is highly skilled and uses the correct repair methods and techniques.”
Jon says HM Bodyshop often see examples of poor previous workmanship when they are carrying out their repairs and warns that shoddy work doesn’t just end up costing more in the long run but can also be highly dangerous. “My suggestion would be to use an endorsed garage that has proven it has the knowledge of the industry,” he advises. “Using a backstreet garage to save a few pounds is not the way to go as savings usually mean short cuts are taken. Some of the bodge jobs we have come across in the past have not only left vehicles structurally unsound and therefore more vulnerable in future collisions, but have damaged electrical wires which increases the risk of fire.”
Notes for editors:
1. Populus, on behalf of Which? interviewed 2,115 UK adults online between 25th and 27th October 2013. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
2. Which? conducted a survey about buying second hand cars to coincide with the Trading Standards Institute’s National Consumer Week and found that more than 50% of people who bought a second-hand car in the last five years didn’t know that if their car developed a fault within the first six months they have the right to get it repaired for free. Consumers wanting more information should visit: http://www.which.co.uk/
3. For more information on Ombudsman Services, visit: http://www.ombudsman-
4. Traders who are interested in registering their interest in the scheme can call 01992 825 003. Lines are open 8-6, Monday to Friday. To find out more, visit http://trustedtraders.