The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) believes the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is tailoring the code to protect retail consumers but not company car drivers.
BVRLA director general John Lewis said: ‘I am appalled at the SMMT’s attitude. It appears they want to treat company car drivers as second class citizens just because they don’t pay bills out of their own pockets.
‘The same standards must be applied to every customer irrespective of who pays the bill.’
The code has been developed with the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF), which agrees with the BVRLA.
RMIF chief executive Matthew Carrington said: ‘I cannot accede that the proposed code can exclude 40% of dealers’ customers. We cannot expect dealers to work with different standards for different customers.’
Lewis said that unless the SMMT changed its mind, the BVRLA would withdraw its support for the code.
He said: ‘We have supported the concept of a new code, but with the unilateral exclusion of company car drivers it appears that discussions between ourselves and the SMMT have been fruitless, leaving us no alternative but to withdraw our support unless the drivers of our members’ customers can be included.’
SMMT spokesman Nigel Wonnacott said the code had to be drawn up to Office of Fair Trading guidelines, which stipulated that the consumer must benefit.
‘It’s not true that company car drivers will not benefit from a code that has to be drafted with the consumer in mind, not the business customer,’ Wonnacott said. ‘Ultimately, the business customer will benefit because they will be using the same service outlets.’
The voluntary code was developed after the National Consumer Council (NCC) threatened to lodge a ‘supercomplaint’ over widespread bad practice by the garage industry. Such a complaint could result in a licensing system for garages, rather than a voluntary code of conduct.
The NCC said every motorist paid on average £150 over the odds for servicing and repairs as a result of bad practice.