Mechanics On Course To Charge £200 Per Hour By 2008

By 2008, the British motorist could be paying more than £200 per hour to get their car fixed at a franchised dealer according to research by independent automotive warranty specialist, Warranty Direct.

During the past twelve months, labour rates have risen nationally by an average of 4 per cent, but with the most expensive dealers increasing by 10 per cent, some are on course to charge an astonishing £256 per hour by the end of the decade. *1

The highest recorded during the past twelve months, a BMW dealer in Greater London, earned his employers an astonishing £158.63 per hour. Other highly paid mechanics included £146.88 from an Audi garage, £129.35 from a Land Rover and £123.38 at a Mercedes Benz dealer.

And if you thought high charges were confined to prestige badges, one Renault dealer has been invoicing his customers a whopping £116.33 an hour - that’s the same as the highest Porsche dealer recorded.

Unsurprisingly, Greater London is home to the most expensive dealers in the country with £100 plus hourly rates fast becoming the norm. “A growing number have been happily joining the £99 + VAT club,” said Warranty Direct spokesman, Duncan McClure Fisher.

Even so, the average cost of labour from both franchised and independent garages has actually only risen by 2 per cent across the Capital since last summer - a figure that compares favourably with Thames Valley belt (up 10 per cent), Scotland (up 19 per cent) and the Midlands (up 12 per cent). Encouragingly, falls were recorded in Wales (down 5 per cent), Anglia (down 8 per cent) and the North West (down 7 per cent).

Warranty Direct’s analysis of 2,897 dealers nationwide also uncovered an increasing trend to penalise owners of newer cars.

On average, vehicles under 3-years-old could expect to pay up to 20 per cent more than a four-year-old version of the same model. One Skoda dealer even admitted to Warranty Direct that they ‘don’t have a fixed labour rate at all.’

In a similar trend, labour charges have now started to vary according to the actual model in question. For example, one Land Rover dealer was charging £90.48 per hour for work conducted on a Range Rover but just £69.37 for work on a Freelander - both under the same roof.

Warranty Direct's, Duncan McClure Fisher added: "We've been banging the drum about the extortionate rates being charged by dealers for several years now. The only reason they think they can get away with these figures is because the public continues to fail to ask the key question - 'how much are you going to charge me?'"

"And just because you have bought an expensive car, it doesn't automatically mean you should take some of the rip off rates being charged on the chin. The fact is the job done is the same in Norwich as it is in London, but you'll save over £65 an hour if you're an Audi owner."

*1 Highest labour rate recorded in 2005 is £159. A further ten per cent rise pushes it up to £174.90 in 2006, £192.39 in 2007, £211.63 in 2008, £232.79 in 2009 and £256.01 in 2010.

15 June 2005 Staff

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