More than two thirds of British motorists believe they receive a dishonest and untrustworthy service when visiting a garage, according to new independent research released today.
In an independent OnePoll report into drivers' feelings about the tyre industry, HiQ - which is trying to bring the standards of high street retailing into the tyre trade - says that 66 per cent of drivers hold negative views about their experiences with fast fit dealers.
In fact 43 per cent of drivers have found the experience of buying a tyre intimidating, dishonest, unfriendly or a source of bad customer service. A quarter of women 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 Retail Director Peter Tye. "We knew that customers were sometimes treated poorly when buying tyres but we never guessed the situation was as bad as this.
"The comments from UK drivers include 'iffy', 'overpriced', 'rip-off merchants' and 'feel like I'm being manipulated'. This has to stop, now. We need to change the whole experience of buying a tyre, so that it feels as trustworthy and pleasant as shopping on the high street."
The research, carried out exclusively for HiQ by independent pollsters OnePoll, found that more than half of consumers (54 per cent) did not always trust professionals' advice when it came to buying tyres: indeed more would rather go online to check a tyre before purchasing (28 per cent) than call their tyre dealer for advice.
The research comes as HiQ takes the lead in challenging the way the fast-fit industry sells tyres to the public, by ensuring that its entire network of more than 150 branches is as customer-friendly as possible.
Its innovative steps include a programme of investing in clean and pleasant customer surroundings; 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 assessments under the ATA (Automotive Technician Accreditation) programme.
And, to ensure that its high standards are rigidly adhered to, HiQ sends mystery shoppers to its franchisees, as well as carrying out daily telephone checks.
These run alongside HiQ's industry leading mirror hanger customer feedback programme and online feedback pages.
"Tyres are a critical safety product, they're the only thing on your car keeping you in touch with the road.
"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 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."
HiQ has already stolen a march on its rivals by introducing industry defining tyre selector tools which have been commissioned to clearly inform customers of the benefits of each product at the point of purchase.
Peter added: "Buying a tyre should be a pleasant, stress-free experience for every shopper," says Peter. "Our customers deserve to be treated with the same standards, respect and honesty that they'd demand in any other store."