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Complaint About Car Repairs and Servicing: A Case Study

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 12 Nov 2018 | 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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I recently took my VW Golf for its service and MOT. The car was dropped off by my wife. The garage did the emissions fix without my specific authority and I need to know if I have any redress. The emissions fix is not mandatory and they never called me to discuss the works. I have avoided it as the feedback in the popular motoring press is that serious issues can develop. I feel duped. The garage makes money from VW Group for performing the service, but I am left with a car with potentially failing issues (DPF, lower MPG, etc). They obviously don't charge me for the fix they did - but they did it without my approval and I am not happy. Can you help?
mikeD33 - 12-Nov-18 @ 1:47 PM
Andre2018 - Your Question:
I went to a garage in Colchester Chrysler and it took me 850 pounds to change a.abs sensor. and a new half shaft. I had to see under the car and both are old. They did not change any and I paid for a new one.

Our Response:
Your only recourse would be to apply to the small claims court regarding this matter.
ComplaintExpert - 13-Sep-18 @ 9:54 AM
I went to a garage in Colchester Chrysler and it took me 850 pounds to change a .abs sensor. and a new half shaft. I had to see under the car and both are old. They did not change any and I paid for a new one.
Andre2018 - 12-Sep-18 @ 10:28 AM
We have a Peugeot 207 which had a nut come off and go into the Turbo wrecking it so the car was recovered and we paid to have a new turbo with the full fitting kit and two oil filters from three oil changes and two engine flushes in June 2017. Less than three weeks later the turbo goes again and the garage has it back in for longer than we had it back, did another two oil changes and engine flush and we had it back three weeks later in July 2017. Within 4,000 miles (and March 2018) we were getting noise from the engine so we took it back to them and they took a look and recommended that there may be a bit of sludge and we were driving it too gently and should put our foot down to clear it. We drove it as normal but six weeks later the car makes an awful noise and my wife has to stop and get RAC to recover her home. I paid for the car to be taken to the garage and they say that it is a build up of oil sludge in the oil pump pipe and the engine is wrecked, essentially writing off the car. I mentioned that we had paid for two full oil changes and two engine flushes when the turbo went on (as required by the warranty) and their reply was basically "tough" these things happen and they weren't to know. I feel the advice given by the mechanic directly led to the engine malfunction (as if he had properly assessed it we would not have driven it until it was flushed properly. Frustrated as we also took it in to have an MOT after he said it was OK and over £200 later the car is a write off.After spending £800 on the turbo fitting and full kit and not even having last a year, or even a few thousand miles, we feel conned that something like sludge has killed the engine after being promised that FOUR flushes were done in total over the two months they had the car in and out of the garage. Surely this should not have built up in such a short time, and if it had the garage that did the engine flush, and were notified of the noise, should bare responsibility. Hoping that someone can help point us in the right direction or let us know if we are wasting our time perusing this? Thank you, Jonathan
Edgeman - 27-Jun-18 @ 10:58 AM
I just got my car back from the garage yesterday didn't even make it home in it the full car is broken all dash board lights on and it won't park or drive at all it only went in to have a rear diff changed on it and now my full car is totally broke and I had to abandon my car and walk home the company aren't accepting responsibility for this and won't sort it out it was left in there hands with only needing that rear diff fitted which I had getting the advice from another mechanic first and was told what was wrong and needed only heas fully booked so couldn't fit me in so I then took it to this garage any advice on what to do here
G-man - 1-Jun-18 @ 9:25 AM
I had my head gasket done two weeks ago and I believe it's gone again as only blowing warm air not hot I paid for head gasket set but not for the labour yet we're do I stand on this matter
Dazza - 25-Apr-18 @ 11:21 PM
the garage agreed a price to fit two complete engines of 350 for the two, he picked up one to be done & paid £175 very happy then he picked up the other car he has now phoned & said I owe £420 I queried the cost as its not what we agreed. He broke it down & said service kit £95 & another service kit £85 plus £65 pick up fee. When I first got the quote he told me I won't need a service as putting all the fluids is included. I feel like he is trying to bump up this invoice. Should I pay & take it to the small claims court. I have tried to talk to the garage but they are refusing to discuss it.
James - 20-Mar-18 @ 12:32 PM
I took my peugeot 207 into a garage for it's head gasket to be repaired and my clutch total I paid was£990. I have the receipt were they have wrote on the work they have done. I have since been in touch with different garages and mechanics who say that they should of done an oil change when doing the head gasket. This WASN'T done and I've had to get it done at another garage who say they can't believe they didn't change the oil filter. What are my rights? Can I make a complaint as the work carried out wasn't done properly. If they done it to me how many more people are they doing it to.
Rovers - 14-Mar-18 @ 12:16 PM
My car was booked in for a full service by Servicing Stop (SS). I provided the specialist oil and left it together with the car servicing log book and wheel key on the passenger seat as instructed. On return of the car, the log book was date stamped SS and the servicing spanner on the dash no longer showed. My oil was till unopened. I suspected that the oil had not been replaced so took a sample via the dipstick the next morning. I also removed the air filter 3 days after the 'service' showing it had not been replaced and took a photo of it with the new filter I fitted. I also later replaced the oil filter myself. The air and oil filter manufacturer they said they fitted do not match those stamps on the ones I replaced and which I still have. Analysis by the OilLab of the oil sample I took recommended that it be changed, yet it was supposedly less than 1 hour usage old and with less that 50 miles of travel. I can see that there has been a legal test case of such practises but can't find the x versus y and case number details. Can anyone advise please?
sapper - 18-Feb-18 @ 12:50 PM
Hi, I have taken my car a Ford Focus to an approved repairer by my Insurance company AXAdriver could not remember if it was raining that day as he collects over 50 cars per week. I explained again, the driver would have used the wiperson collection as the weather was wet and If he did not report that only one wiper was working, then I can only assume they were were working normaly.I asked if the engine bay had been pressure washed as at a glance it looked very clean and could water have got into the wiper motor ? following the valleting servicehe said no but I did not go back to my car to check at that pointas it was now back in the workshop. The manager then asked one of he`s staff for a price for a wiper motor, the cost was £195 he said he would fit the motor for free but I would have to pay for the part. This is when the dispute began. I told him I was upset by the news and felt I was put in a position, to now prove that the wipers were working properly when the car was collected. I said If I had to pay I would look to be getting a refund via a small claims court. I left the car with them as he agreed that it was not in a safe condition to drive even though the paper work I was handed after excess payment was made states " YOUR VEHICLE HAS BEEN THROUGH QUALITY CONTROL CHECKS DURING THE COURSE OF THE REPAIR AND HAS PASSED THE FINAL QUALITY CONTROL EXAMINATION" I rang AXA when I got home and told then what had happened. They rang me back after an hour and said they had spoken to the manager. They will now have to get a report from the manager and send it to AXA`s engineer to give a verdict. The person I spoke to did say the manager might have overlooked the wiper on first inspection. I am still waiting to see what is going to happen now. I can only say the whole following a front end collision. My car was collected from my premises to the repair garage. I had been using the car for a week after the collision as the damage was not Great and all the normal functions were working, lights, horn, indicators, windscreen wipers, hazard warning lights. I would not have used the car If I thought it was not safe to drive. The car was collected from my home 8.30 am and weather light rain.I signed for the collection in my kitchen as the paperwork was handed to me on my drive and was getting wet. The car was taken and a courtesy car given. I called the Garage after a week had gone by and asked when I could get It back. I was told the repair had begun and they were awaiting parts but would be a few more days. I went to collect my car a few days later. The repair work looked good. I gave the car a cursory inspection, I asked the receptionist If she would just watch while I tried the lights indicators etc. She came outside and confirmed the light were functioning ok and said all the necessary checks would have been done. I went back into the office and paid my excess. I came out of the office and got in my car to drive off, It had starte
Alan - 12-Feb-18 @ 12:34 PM
Hey, I had some issues with the automatic gear box of my Ford car fifteen months ago. The gear box was replaced with a new one at Ford workshop and I had to pay £3750. I got same issue with the gear box after 15 months. The Ford Garage does not take the resposiblity as the one year warranty period is over. I can not afford to spend again £3750 for the gear box replacement. How to complain to Ford company about the poor quality of the component?
Sohail - 10-Feb-18 @ 9:49 PM
Hi needing some advice my car was in a garage on saturday for new break pads and discs i picked it up saturday eve and drove 5 minute journey home , i used it again on sunday morning, my journey was very strange i had brakes grinding ( i put this down to being new parts) and felt like i was pulling car it seemed not to drive as usual , then thunding / banging whilst driving to the car , then a strange burning smell and more grinding coming from front which made me pull over to check upon braking my car it took what seemed like ages to stop , and a really awful noise by this stage , upon getting out my caliper was hanging off i could move it freely without any effort just by touching it , i phoned the garage that had fixed it they came out and stated it was a geniune unfortunate thing that happens every so many cars and the caliper bolt has shredded and fallen out no bodys fault, he drove my car home and i still dont have it back yet , upon speaking to other people about this i have been told no way should this ever happen and either the garage has not put the caliper bolt on after doing pads and discs , or if it has shredded it was because it was put on too tight or too loose ifits just came off , i am really worried scared about getting back into my car as when it wouldnt stop i was really worried for myself and my kids it couldve been alot worse as at the time we were just about to go on a 60 mph windy road
123232323 - 29-Jan-18 @ 4:32 PM
Hi needing some advice my car was in a garage on saturday for new break pads and discs i picked it up saturday eve and drove 5 minute journey home , i used it again on sunday morning, my journey was very strange i had brakes grinding ( i put this down to being new parts) and felt like i was pulling car it seemed not to drive as usual , then thunding / banging whilst driving to the car , then a strange burning smell and more grinding coming from front which made me pull over to check upon braking my car it took what seemed like ages to stop , and a really awful noise by this stage , upon getting out my caliper was hanging off i could move it freely without any effort just by touching it , i phoned the garage that had fixed it they came out and stated it was a geniune unfortunate thing that happens every so many cars and the caliper bolt has shredded and fallen out no bodys fault, he drove my car home and i still dont have it back yet , upon speaking to other people about this i have been told no way should this ever happen and either the garage has not put the caliper bolt on after doing pads and discs , or if it has shredded it was because it was put on too tight or too loose ifits just came off , i am really worried scared about getting back into my car as when it wouldnt stop i was really worried for myself and my kids it couldve been alot worse as at the time we were just about to go on a 60 mph windy road
123232323 - 29-Jan-18 @ 4:24 PM
I took car for reconditioned turbo garage said they would after fit new pipes etc to keep the 2 year warranty which I had done then 3months later turbo failed they said it was to do with oil pick up pipe blocked pipe blocked and want another 400 to mend it surely this should have been covered in my 2year warranty and they should have seen this when they fitted the turbo am o getting ripped off?
Mj - 23-Dec-17 @ 1:19 PM
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
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