Home > Complaint Case Studies > Complaint About Car Repairs and Servicing: A Case Study

Complaint About Car Repairs and Servicing: A Case Study

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 5 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Repairs Service Complain Complaints Car

The benefits of a car can often be outweighed by the headache of securing a good standard of repairs and servicing, as this case study attests.

Cheated By The Garage

Finding a reliable garage to carry out service and repair work on a car can be very difficult. Not knowing whether they are receiving a professional service or not, consumers are often at the mercy of car mechanics who sometimes exploit their ignorance with shoddy workmanship and bad practice.

Of the total number of complaints to Consumer Direct last year, car servicing and repairs accounted for just below 2%. However, although every year tens of thousands of customers complain about work not being completed, repairs being overlooked and about being charged for incomplete work, there are likely many more unaware they are being cheated.

The Filter Trap

When Donal left his car at a Belfast car dealership for its 40,000-mile service, he was well aware of the risks of taking a vehicle to a mechanic in UK. For this reason, he decided to perform his own little test. By marking the vehicle’s engine filters, he could check to see if they were changed afterwards to assess whether the service work had been carried out properly.

Upon completion of the service, the Newcastle native was handed a bill of around £275, which detailed charges relating to the filters. However, upon checking the marks made on the air and fuel filters, he found them to be still there. The work had not been done.

To add insult to injury, the bill also included a charge for the fitting of a new rear windscreen wiper even though the car didn’t even have one.

Complaint And Compensation

As a result of the filter ‘trap’, Donal knew immediately he had been cheated, and so demanded to speak to the manager. He was promptly given a reduced bill of £175 and told that there had been a mix-up between the service and receptionist. He was also offered £50 off his next car service.

Unwilling to accept the situation as an unfortunate human error, Donal brushed off the sweetener and contacted Trading Standards. The dealership later pleaded guilty to two charges under the Trade Descriptions Act.

Customer Vulnerability

The case study highlights how vulnerable consumers are when it comes to car servicing and repairs. They rely completely on the diligence of the mechanic to ensure the work is carried out properly. Donal was only able to spot the bad practice because he set up a trap for the dealership. Most customers would have been oblivious to the incomplete service and paid the money.

The dealership was charged because it is a criminal offence to make a false claim about work carried out. Serious offenders face prosecution, whilst those who fail to a lesser extent face warnings.

The Right To Complain

However, it was only through Donal’s ingenuity and basic knowledge of car maintenance that he was able to present a watertight case against the dealership. Most customers find it difficult to prove they have been cheated by a garage, and find their complaints often get them nowhere.

Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, consumers have a right to complain if the service or repair work is not carried out with reasonable care and skill, in a reasonable time, and for a reasonable price.

Trading Standards will offer advice on what to do if you believe you have been the victim of substandard car repairs or servicing. They may also investigate the offending garage on your behalf.

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[Add a Comment]
Ally- Your Question:
Hi , My 17year old son took his car to a garage. It needed a new gearbox and clutch.We were quoted 1600.Go to.pick it up the car , the bill is 2.300.They had to replace fly wheel but they went ahead and did this without discussing it with us first. They did have my son number. Were do we stand and who can I complain to ?? I am so angry that they have done the work without asking us and they didnt even mention at any stage that the fly wheel would need to be replaced. Thank you in advance for any advice

Our Response:
If you only asked the garage to do a specific piece of work and they did extra work that you didn’t ask for, you can ask them to undo the work. If this isn't possible, you should insist you only pay for the work that was agreed, please see CAB link here .
ComplaintExpert - 7-Dec-17 @ 12:33 PM
Hi , My 17year old son took his car to a garage . It needed a new gearbox and clutch .We were quoted 1600 .Go to.pick it up the car ,the bill is 2.300 .They had to replace fly wheelbut they went ahead and did this without discussing it with us first . They did have my son number . Were do we stand and who can I complain to ??. I am so angry that they have done the work without asking us and they didnt even mention at any stage that the fly wheel would need to be replaced . Thank you in advance for any advice
Ally - 5-Dec-17 @ 7:37 PM
Son in law booked a friend's car into garage for her to get it mot'd friend picked up car and told them my son in law was paying for it . Now garage chasing him for bill to be paid . Can you tell me who is responsible for paying the bill please as garage says he is responsible as he booked it in ! Thank you
Liz - 30-Oct-17 @ 9:30 PM
@Alfie - you should be able to claim back any financial loss you have incurrred, especially if the garage has a service plan and they have overlooked the most important part of it. I'd ask for the company's complaint procedure first and take it from there.
Tom - 25-Sep-17 @ 3:35 PM
Hi I have just received a letter from the DVLA stating that my I do not have a MOT certificate for my car. I currently have a service plan with a large garage and this covers my MOT and service payments. I pay monthly into this. I took my car into this garage in April 17 after booking it in for its MOT & service. So was very shocked to receive this letter from the dvla this morning stating I had no MOT. I then rang the garage to see what they had done. The garage confirmed that they had missed the MOT!! I just wondered were I stand on this as I am not normally a person to complain but this therefore means I've been driving around with no MOT for the last 5 months due the garage makin this mistake! They have told me to bring the car in tomorrow to sort it but will not pay for any taxis as a good will gesture and we will have to sit and wait whilst it's MOT gets done. I use my car for work everyday & if I had a accident this would have cancelled the insurance. How should I handle this? Should I seek advice from trading standards? I really feel that they should compensate me for this. It's terrible how they have just taken payments and not even done the job. Any advice anyone?
Alfie - 23-Sep-17 @ 8:13 AM
Hi I have just received a letter from the DVLA stating that my I do not have a MOT certificate for my car. I currently have a service plan with a large garage and this covers my MOT and service payments. I pay monthly into this. I took my car into this garage in April 17 after booking it in for its MOT & service. So was very shocked to receive this letter from the dvla this morning stating I had no MOT. I then rang the garage to see what they had done. The garage confirmed that they had missed the MOT!! I just wondered were I stand on this as I am not normally a person to complain but this therefore means I've been driving around with no MOT for the last 5 months due the garage makin this mistake! They have told me to bring the car in tomorrow to sort it but will not pay for any taxis as a good will gesture and we will have to sit and wait whilst it's MOT gets done. I use my car for work everyday & if I had a accident this would have cancelled the insurance. How should I handle this? Should I seek advice from trading standards? I really feel that they should compensate me for this. It's terrible how they have just taken payments and not even done the job. Any advice anyone?
Alfie - 22-Sep-17 @ 8:46 PM
Hi I have just received a letter from the DVLA stating that my I do not have a MOT certificate for my car. I currently have a service plan with a large garage and this covers my MOT and service payments. I pay monthly into this. I took my car into this garage in April 17 after booking it in for its MOT & service. So was very shocked to receive this letter from the dvla this morning stating I had no MOT. I then rang the garage to see what they had done. The garage confirmed that they had missed the MOT!! I just wondered were I stand on this as I am not normally a person to complain but this therefore means I've been driving around with no MOT for the last 5 months due the garage makin this mistake! They have told me to bring the car in tomorrow to sort it but will not pay for any taxis as a good will gesture and we will have to sit and wait whilst it's MOT gets done. I use my car for work everyday & if I had a accident this would have cancelled the insurance. How should I handle this? Should I seek advice from trading standards? I really feel that they should compensate me for this. It's terrible how they have just taken payments and not even done the job. Any advice anyone?
Alfie - 22-Sep-17 @ 6:54 PM
I bought a car last year DEcember on the 22 but it a second hand and the fault the electric mirrors is not working got worming lights and the cruse is not working and the radio is not working and now is not running for two months its a Renault Megan 2012
Themba - 22-Sep-17 @ 12:31 PM
Dear expert, all of my services have been carried out by a Mercedes dealer. While booking in for the current service I found out that the transmission oil had not been replaced in the last service which when it should have been done.Now 18k miles later the electronic valve body in the transmission has a fault and needs replacing. The dealer has admitted that the transmission oil should have been done then and will do it now. But are refusingto fix the problem which was due to their fault of not replacing the oil in the first place. Independent specialists are confirming that the oil not being changed is the most likely cause but the Mercedes dealer are not owning up to their fault. What now?
Marvey80 - 1-Sep-17 @ 1:09 PM
Hi I took my car in to our local garage for a new air mass meter the garage ordered a part and fitted it afterwards my car was running worse , I took it to another garage who fitted a BMW air mass meter the car now runs perfect .the local garage I took it to first is going to refund the part price but can I get a refund on the labour and vat from them as the car was worse after they put the part on I paid them for kind regards
Manda - 21-Aug-17 @ 1:02 PM
@doc-do-little - I'd find another mechanic. Looks like you might need a second opinion here. If you are advised against driving the car, I'd ask the garage to transport it for you, it's the least they can do. That's shockingly bad service. I wouldn't pay them for the work done either, especially if they have had your car for a whole month!
MrT - 21-Aug-17 @ 10:37 AM
dear experts i am seeking advice my vehicle has been in the garage for a month i asked them to change 4 studs on the engine they give me a reasonable price 50 pound so iagreed i asked if he could give it a look through aswell as i was having problems he completed the studs and then told me i am not getting oil to the engine so he said he was to try sort it so i said okay ,i then rang a week later the receptionist told me that the mechanic was off for a week so i waited a week then rang again he told me again that the mechanic was off but they arent giving me any information as to whats happening or when it will be fixed or what needs fixing and its been there for a month now im paying insurance for nothing any advice please
doc-do-little - 19-Aug-17 @ 9:00 AM
Dear Experts I submitted my beloved ,Smart car in to a local garage after an initial consultation with Mercedes Benz. The Repairs from Mercedes Benz would have cost me £1600 , so I went to my local garage whoI have usedbefore for small jobs and MOTS. Upon consulting my local garage with the ,Mercedes quotation ,the local garage said that he could complete the repairs in two days and at accost of £650. Unfortunately, this episode of using this local garage turned out to be an exercise in the most worst kind of customer service I have ever had to endure. The time scale the local garageeventually held my car, peaked at 31 Days and all during this time I never ever got a telephone call regarding position of updates it, was always me calling them and with a response of it will be ready in a couple of days. All throughout this episode I was never ever offered any alternative transport (courtesy car), but what my family was offered was, threats when demanding the car back. It got so bad that we, had to ask in intermediary friend to try and get the car back. Unfortunately this did not work either, but eventually and due to more pressure from the intermediary the garage admitted defeat and returned the car but, not after completing the repairs. No this had to be done at an alternative garage which specialised Smart. When the car arrived at thealternative garage it had flat tyres ,flat battery and was in a sate of unrepaired when missing bolts from it. Ok the original garage had repatriated the car to the alternative garage but, never even notified them it was coming but, just had the low loader driver dump it and run. When the alternative garage eventually discovered from the low loader driver where the car had come from the alternative garage called the original garage and asked for my number, but what they got was abuse from the owner and a comment ofwatch out for her meaning me. Eventually I had to pay the alternativegaragea similar price for the repairs as Mercedes because the attempted repairs of the local garage were bad. Surely my case is one that does warrant an element of reimbursement and compensation for the treatment sustained. Thank you for your assistance and I look forward to hearing from you in due course. After reading this particular course of events it
nees - 17-Aug-17 @ 11:08 AM
Dear expert. My 2010 polo gti 50,000mile went into a recommended and well praised garage needing a timing chain replacement. It was towed to the garage on the 30th of March after waiting 2weeks to have it booked in, i had a warranty on the car and has full service history, the garage said worst case scenario 2months (which i find ridiculous!!) they encountered a problem with my piston rings, After they put it all back together and well, its now 11th of August and they still haven't sorted the piston rings. They offered me a 'good will gesture discount' but after near 6 months, and alot of honesty from them 'oh we haven't touched it in a few weeks so we could get some other jobs done first'i must be eligible for alot more??? Kind regards
Payne - 11-Aug-17 @ 7:19 PM
Matt - Your Question:
Dear expert. We had our timing belt supposedly changed today by our regular mechanic for the last two years but after the mechanic's unusual behaviour and weird explanation with the belt being changed somewhere by his mate, my wife became suspicious. I've been able to look at the timing belt and it definitely doesn't look new. Also screws and bolts that should have been removed, look as untouched. We have the invoice. What would you advise to do? Kind Regards.

Our Response:
In the first instance, you can either go back to the garage and ask for confirmation the repair has been done, and/or get a second opinion from an expert. You can see more regarding your rights via the Which link here.
ComplaintExpert - 3-Aug-17 @ 11:43 AM
Dear expert.We had our timing belt supposedly changed today by our regular mechanic for the last two years but after the mechanic's unusual behaviour and weird explanation with the belt being changed somewhere by his mate, my wife became suspicious. I've been able to look at the timing belt and it definitely doesn't look new. Also screws and bolts that should have been removed, look as untouched.We have the invoice.What would you advise to do?Kind Regards.
Matt - 1-Aug-17 @ 11:14 PM
jimbo - Your Question:
I had my car fully serviced and mot last week I paid the bill received the mot but nothing else can you help please

Our Response:
You would have to contact the garage who did the work to ask for the service documentation.
ComplaintExpert - 27-Jul-17 @ 12:52 PM
I had my car fully serviced and mot last week I paid the bill received the mot but nothing else can you help please
jimbo - 25-Jul-17 @ 10:10 PM
@sue - A full service price should always include the replacement of the engine oil and filter. Rob.
BobbyS - 29-Jun-17 @ 3:37 PM
Hi, can anyone please tell me... when you book your car in for full service and mot. they take your reg . to know what oil you need. so they price you accordingly. So does price they give you for your car include oil change and filter ? thankyou Sue
sue - 28-Jun-17 @ 4:27 PM
@Leigh- it needs to be lubricated by the engine oil. If your chain is worn (which it shouldn't be if you've only done 11,600 miles, but if you've done 116,000 miles that's a different matter) it's pretty noisy and your car may shudder or backfire. They can just snap, but like a bike chain, the chain is more substantial than your timing belt. It's hard to say whether your mechanic is pulling a fast one, you're not giong to be able to prove it. Dan.
DanTH - 31-May-17 @ 1:53 PM
I have just put my golf mk5 06 plate in for a full service, it has 11600 mls the garage where driving it back to me and it broke down they say and had to tow it back to the garage. They say it is the timing chain? Now if it was the timin chain surely I would have heard it make a noise or rattle. Does anyone have any advice thanks
Leigh - 30-May-17 @ 7:36 PM
Car taking few minutes to start and a white smoke is coming and engine oil getting dirty in 1k k/m. And taking havey accelerate while traffic. What to do solve these issues.
Pavi - 30-Apr-17 @ 5:32 PM
My renault grande scenic was acting up on starting then warning and service light'check injectors' came on, took to lical mechanic who did diagnostic test came back with injectors again. Paid £515 to have the 4 injectors replaced - next day after getting car back still not startingproperly in fact worse - help ?!
The boss - 10-Apr-17 @ 7:38 PM
Hi We have had our car (2013 plate) for less than 3 years, 2 weeks ago, out of the blue the car broke down (issue with the coolant) and wouldn't start. It got towed to the dealership where we bought it from. They have told us that it needs a new engine. The car has low mileage and we have had the car serviced by the dealership each year and no-one else has touched the engine. The dealership say that the fault is not ours, as nothing we would have done could have caused such catastrophic damage, we also checked whether it could have been down to pot holes and they said no. This suggests to me that the fault was there when we bought the car, or has 'developed' since then and the mechanics servicing the car haven't picked up on it. The dealership have offered to pay 25% of the repair bill but we are arguing that they should cover the whole cost of the bill - do we have a case?
Penguin - 30-Mar-17 @ 5:14 AM
Hi, I have recently had fitted a new front spring a clutch and flywheel and a new cam belt and water pump in my 2004 golf. Having recieved the car back, it wasn't running right at all so I took it back and they advised me that the car was like that prior to having done the work????! Should the garage not have said we have took it for a test drive and it's not running right, do you still want to have the work done? It's now 4 weeks later and the car is getting worse. I took it back to the garage to complain again and they have now said it needs a thousand pound more work doing in the space of 4 weeks since spending £1000. I feel totally robbed as I believe if they test drivethe car and knew it wasn't right yet still did the repairs without informing me it was going to cost me more money to get right. Is there anything I can do? Thanks
Toots! - 2-Mar-17 @ 3:19 PM
Who do I put a complain in with over a mechanic passing cars mot without seeing the car for extra money
kiaus2014 - 25-Feb-17 @ 10:20 PM
Please please please help. My gad had problems starting. If I parked car reverse on drive it started fine. Anyway there was possibly egr fault. My clutch started slipping. I took to a garage who advertised by citreon BMW n Peugeot specialists. I first had my brakes done. 2 days later I was booked in for slipping clutch. The car was high revs. Anyway it went into garage. After having clutch done I noticed engine was vibrating really bad. Took back to garage and he secured hose pipe with cable tie. I took it back day after as engine was not like that b; I took it in. He tried to secure with more cable tie. I told him to do job properly. He took my car. Said : of mounts were broke so he replaced. I got my car home and still not right. Fresh oil all over under bonnet. I took back. He passed my car onto a friend of his who was Peugeot specialist. He said I had egr faults n I had oil leak which had bn there for ages. That is untrue. He fixed injection pipe oil leak which I did not ask him to do. I then got told to get a better car. Now my car engine is vibrating smoking n rattling. I'm getting full inspection off AA do hopefully get proof garage messed up. Anyone got any advice please. My car is no longer driveable
Sick as a chip - 27-Jan-17 @ 11:54 AM
My ignition barrel on my car started to stick, I took my car to a garage they said it needed a new barrel they said it would take three to four days for the part to come ,I asked them to order the part, in the meantime the ignition barrel rectified the problem ,the garage three weeks later rang me to say the part had just arrived ! I no longer need the part what can i do about it .
Smithy - 10-Jan-17 @ 12:47 PM
My Mondeo had a new clutch fitted, The original one lasted 140,000 miles.
butch - 26-Dec-16 @ 10:16 AM
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