The garage bill is too much

Estimates, quotes and contracts

If a firm price is stated at the time of making the contract, then both you and the garage are bound by it

If a firm price is stated at the time of making the contract, then both you and the garage are bound by it

If a firm price is stated at the time of making the contract, then both you and the garage are bound by it.

However it's more usual for a garage to give you an estimate of the price rather than a firm quote.  You should establish whether you have been given a quote or an estimate.

Generally speaking, an estimate will not bind the garage, although it will be an indication of the eventual cost.

A reasonable price

If no price is quoted, the garage can charge you a 'reasonable' price for all work properly performed.

What is reasonable is a question of fact, and a court would decide the question by reference to the work done, market rates, and any previous dealings.

A price will not automatically be considered unreasonable purely because other garages in the area charge less. 

Get several quotes

It's a good idea to get quotes from a number of garages before authorising the work.

Many factors affect a business’s operating costs including property, staff, equipment and training, so hourly labour rates can vary quite a lot, even in the same town.  Parts prices vary too depending on where and how they are sourced.

Authorising garage repairs

Garages should work strictly within their authorisation.

Some garages will attempt to contact you should further work be necessary but some may not. You need to make sure that the garage is clear what sort of authorisation you are giving them.

You should always aim to give the garage a number on which you can be contacted should questions or problems arise.

Specific authorisation

If you authorise a garage to carry out only specific work, and to do no other work without further permission, then the garage is not entitled to claim payment for any extra work done.

If however it has done so, the garage may remove any unauthorised replacement parts fitted provided the old parts are properly re-installed on your vehicle. If for any reason this is no longer practicable, the garage should bear the loss.

Obviously, unless such limited authority is in writing, it is open to dispute what instructions were actually given.

General authorisation

If your instructions to the garage are simply to carry out necessary repairs without placing any limit on either the extent or the cost of them, you give the garage unrestricted authority to carry out whatever repair work is necessary.

This does not mean the garage is entitled to do unnecessary (as opposed to necessary) work, but establishing this is often very difficult, and the task of doing so would be upon you in the event of legal proceedings.

If you are in doubt set a financial limit, preferably in writing, and ask the garage to contact you beforehand for your authority if this is going to be exceeded.

Unfair commercial practices

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 make it an offence to treat consumers unfairly.

A garage could be in breach of the regulation if they treat you unfairly through:

  • misleading actions - such as claiming to use only genuine parts but fitting cheaper non-branded parts, or deliberately giving you an unrealistic estimate.
  • misleading omissions - withholding information that would have helped you make a more informed decision
  • aggressive practices - aggressive behaviour that influences your decision or actions

If you think that you may have been a victim of unfair trading practices you should contact your local authority trading standards department in the first instance.