Latest research of 27 manufacturers shows a dramatic variation of charges across the country – with £152.75 an hour being charged by a BMW franchised dealer in central London. The Thames Valley belt of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire is the most expensive region in the UK with an average hourly charge of £68.61.
Cheapest was Scotland, according to the survey carried out by independent automotive warranty specialist Warranty Direct, where the average repair is £43.12.
Warranty Direct managing director Duncan McClure Fisher said: 'Unfortunately, manufacturers don't have any control over dealer labour rates, hence the sometimes truly extortionate charges some motorists are having to stomach. Everyone appreciates the cost of living differs across the country but surely not to this level?'
Giving advice to fleets seeking repairs, McClure Fisher said: 'The obvious advice is to shop around and as manufacturers have effectively given them a stamp of approval, don't ignore established or specialist independent garages.
The service is just as professional and competent but you don't always have to pay the price.'
BMW said its dealers set their own labour rate and the average was £68 plus VAT.
Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Porsche and Audi provided the five most expensive rates recorded by the company.
At the other end, Mazda's average was £44 an hour, although a franchised Mazda dealer in London would cost double that.
Warranty Direct's research coincides with this month's Fleet News Fair Dealer campaign, which called for garages to give a better service to fleets.
Fleets highlighted their best and worst experiences with garages but dealers also responded, with many saying that fleets need to understand the problems facing garages before they have a true vision of what needs to be done to be done to solve the industry's problems.
The campaign found clear evidence that that a punishing drive to keep costs down among fleet operators is starving the industry of the resource its needs to improve.
Software provider cfc solutions said it has noticed that an increasing number of fleet managers are using fleet management software to police service standards from dealers. Managing director Jason Francis said: 'What has really set in motion the trend for monitoring the dealer service standards situation is the need to focus on maintenance order to fully meet Health and safety Executive guidelines.'
|Labour rate fact file|
|Region||Highest rate||Average rate|
|Northern Ireland:||£81.66||£58.67||South Coast||£119.85||£55.21|