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Drivers fear garage rip-offs - especially women


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MOTORISTS in the South East feel they are being ripped off to the tune of millions of pounds by garages, a new report has revealed. Almost half a million motorists in the region think they have been overcharged or received bad service at a garage in the past 12 months.

As a nation, we spend more than £9 billion each year on car maintenance. But independent research from Norwich Union shows that motorists fear they could be wasting as much as £430 million each year on unnecessary or overcharged repair and maintenance work.

Norwich Union's "Fairer Deal for Drivers" study, which included mystery shopping various garages, also revealed that three out of five drivers think women get a worse deal than men when it comes to forking out for car repairs.

Female motorists feel they are cheated by an average of £100 - while men claim they are £85 out of pocket. As a result, more than a third of all female car owners admit they get a man to take their car to the garage for them.

But garages get men stressed, too. The Fairer Deal for Drivers study reveals that a quarter of all male motorists feel anxious about a visit to the garage. Norwich Union has launched a new initiative to educate and empower Britain's motorists, with the support of the Trading Standards Institute.

The insurer has provided a free guide to arm motorists with the right information and to help them get the best deal from garages. The guide, written in conjunction with a team of motor engineers, includes:

* Straightforward tips about what motorists should do when dealing with a garage.

* A summary of how consumers can avoid the most common pitfalls and keep up-to-date about their legal rights.

* A garage jargon buster Ð so motorists won't be fooled by "tradesmen speak".

* Contact details for motor trade industry bodies and consumer rights associations.

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