Repair disputes reach record high

The Motor Ombudsman has seen a sharp increase in service and repair disputes in the last quarter and expects to receive more than 5,000 complaints from motorists this year.

Between July and September, the Ombudsman for the automotive sector received 1,348 new submissions from motorists, up 10% from 1,226 in the second quarter, and a 13% increase on the first three months of 2023.

The number of disputes for quarter three also surpassed last year’s tally by nine per cent for the same period.

Diesel cars drove over half (52%) of the service and repair complaints in the past three months, followed by petrol models (40%), electric vehicles (four per cent), and hybrids (four per cent).

However, the heightened case volumes have been mirrored by a record number of contacts received from consumers during the first nine months of the year – most likely sparked by the financial pressures associated with the cost-of-living crisis, and a greater likelihood to make a complaint to help recoup perceived losses, rather than being a reflection of declining standards in this area of the automotive sector.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “This year has seen a notable uplift in the volume of contacts received from consumers, and the number of cases accepted with regards to a service or repair. With the rising costs to maintain and keep a car on the road, combined with other significant financial pressures on households, this is driving a greater likelihood to make a complaint.

“With the current trend showing no let-up in the volume of cases accepted by our service, we expect to receive in excess of 5,000 service and repair disputes by year-end, and as we look ahead to the coming months, 2024 is likely to follow a similar trend according to current projections.”