Wednesday, November 14Serving the aftermarket

Misguided press releases build consumer mistrust

As a journalist, I receive all sorts of press releases. The beauty of being an automotive ‘hack’ means I get plenty of general ones, not just those flavoured for the aftermarket.

And are from a couple of days ago was a doozy. You can read the story here, however I’ve not reported the whole release. The piece concerns customers being confused by jargon in garages – a fair point, those who are not mechanically minded would be a little confused.

But the piece included some examples, and this, which I omitted from the main news article, is what annoyed me:

 

Diagnostic check / charge The technician may plug a diagnostics system into your car to assess any faults; this sounds technical and can be used to mask the cost of an hour’s labour but it usually entails no more than plugging a laptop into the car, taking minutes

 

Minutes? Really? We all know that diagnostic checks involve more than ‘plugging a laptop into the car’ – it is the entire process of finding the fault. Not so much ‘that is not working’ but ‘why that is not working.’

My fear is that should releases like this be put into more public forums, consumers are going to think that a diagnostic charge is a rip-off, while garages will start to do it for free, despite the fact that it can take an hour’s labour.

The rest of the piece talks about how garages can amend their language to help customers feel like they are not being ripped off – a good point. But misguided statements like that above really do not help the industry to pull itself out of what can often be seen as an untrusted profession.

Perhaps the company in question should be looking for a PR agency that actually understands the aftermarket, rather than simply listening to what consumers think and saying the industry is to blame?

If a customer queries a diagnostic check, garages should not be afraid to discuss the job and intricacies involved. After all, diagnostic checking is an essential part of service.