Senior citizens should get the same quality service as they'd receive in a high street store when buying tyres, but the vast majority feels intimidated and poorly treated, according to fast fit network HiQ.

And a major report, specially compiled for HiQ, has found that a third of women aged over 55 find the ordeal of facing garage staff so unpleasant that they would rather get someone else to take their car in.

"The results of this research into our own industry surprised us," says HIQ's marketing manager Geraldine McGovern. "We knew that senior citizens were sometimes treated poorly when buying tyres but we'd never have guessed the situation was as bad as this.

"The comments we've had back from shoppers include 'iffy' WHERE article_id='overpriced', 'rip-off merchants' and 'feel like I'm being manipulated'. This has to stop, now.

"We need to radically change the whole experience of buying a tyre. It's time someone stood up for consumers and made the whole experience of buying a tyre as easy and pleasant as walking into a good high street fashion store."

The independent survey, compiled for HiQ by independent pollsters OnePoll, spoke to 2,000 people. It found that just 30 per cent of drivers aged 55 and over felt buying tyres was an honest or trustworthy experience - indeed 40 per cent thought dealers were intimidating, unfriendly, dishonest or provided poor service.

The research comes as HiQ takes the lead in challenging the way the fast-fit industry sells tyres to the public, and in particular senior citizens, by ensuring that its entire network of more than 150 branches is as customer friendly as possible.

Its innovative steps include industry defining tyre selector tools which have been commissioned to clearly inform customers of the benefits of each tyre at the point of purchase.

In addition a programme of investing in clean and pleasant customer surroundings has been launched; producing clear, jargon-free pricing and menu boards so customers know exactly what they are buying - and how much it costs; creating an online ordering service; and sending its technicians for professional assessment under the ATA accreditation programme.

And, to ensure that its high standards are rigidly adhered to, HiQ sends mystery shoppers to its franchises, as well as carrying out daily telephone checks.

These run alongside HiQ's industry leading mirror hanger customer feedback programme and online feedback pages.

"With this in mind, we are doing what no other fast fit network is doing - offering a unique combination of retail and technical skills to provide motorists with a genuinely memorable and expert retail experience.

"Our comprehensive HiQ Tyre Expert Programme includes technicians being fully trained in offering the very best advice to motorists, demonstrating how seriously we take this issue.

"Our senior customers deserve to be treated with the same standards, respect and honesty that they'd demand in any other high street store."