Car service and maintenance has long been considered a shady industry, with many car owners dubious of work being carried out. But times change, and high-end brand Audi are reassuring customers by pioneering a new camera which lets customers see and hear about necessary repair work and authorise it all via mobile phone or PC.
Now rolled out across all UK Audi centres, the service enables technicians carrying out workshop inspections to focus handheld 'Audi Cams' on specific problems, to deliver verbal diagnoses and to send the resulting film clips to customers' home computers or smartphones before any work begins.
Audi said the camera is a "small, hand-held video camera capable of delivering high quality footage with excellent sound quality". Audi Approved technicians, who have undergone training, will use it first to visually and verbally identify a customer's car on film after an inspection. They will then pinpoint and explain any problems found, and then offer solutions.
Each problem identified – for example brake pad wear or illegal tyre tread depth – is filmed as an individual clip to minimise file size and reduce buffering, and in three minutes can be incorporated into a web page which is sent through a secure link to the customer.
The page contains the relevant film clips, and grades each problem as 'urgent', 'advisory' or 'for info' to give the customer a clear idea of its severity. It also provides a VAT-inclusive price quotation for each job, along with action buttons that enable the customer to authorise the centre to proceed at the price quoted, to reject the work or to request a call back.
Paul Sansom, aftersales and service boss for Audi UK, said: "By effectively beaming the workshop to our customers' homes or smartphones, Audi Cam greatly simplifies the service and repair process, and at the same time breaks down more of the barriers between the service bay and the customer that have traditionally fostered scepticism and suspicion."