Illegal competition is being blamed for the fact that the number of car repairs carried out at authorized garages in Spain fell last year by 20%, and as a direct consequence it is reported that as many as 10,000 jobs were lost in the sector.These figures were quoted on Monday by Manuel Nemesio, the president of the Automobile Federation of the Comunitat Valenciana (FAUTCOVA), at the presentation of a campaign to encourage members of the public to use registered workshops which guarantee the safety of their vehicles. The campaign is also aimed at driving schools and consumer associations, stressing the risks and even negative effects on the environment of using unauthorized repair workshops.
The illegal or clandestine establishments competing with fully legal mechanics not only fail to pay tax, but also cannot offer guarantees regarding the tools and spare parts they use, which often come from scrap yards. On top of this they do not often comply with rules regarding the disposal of toxic and dangerous substances. As they don’t issue invoices, they cannot offer legal guarantees on the work they carry out, and this can be risky when they are working on elements of motor vehicles such as the tyres, the steering or the brakes, for example.
Of course the attraction of these unauthorized mechanics is that they are able to offer their services more cheaply than those who meet all the legal requirements for repair workshops, and the increase in VAT from 18% to 21% has made the difference even more attractive to drivers and owners who are short of cash. In addition, the fact that the average age of the vehicles currently on Spanish roads is increasing seems to go hand in hand with a tendency to choose cheaper repairs over more reliable services.
Last year the Seprona division of the Guardia Civil and the regional police force in the Comunitat Valenciana carried out 1,000 inspections at vehicle repair establishments, and found that as many as 148 of them failed to comply with the legal requirements for carrying on their trade. These non-compliers face punishments ranging from fines of 3,000 euros to being completely closed down.
The new campaign, which is backed by the regional government, will include the distribution of 3,000 posters to consumer associations, driving schools, garages and other establishments.
All Text and Images are Subject to Copyright