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Complaint About Car Repairs and Servicing: A Case Study

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 21 Aug 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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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
Hi i recently brought a mini in august that had aclutch done at snows had vibrations coming from the clutch been told by 3 other garages its the clutch took it bk to snows they said i would have to wait 4 weeks nearly to have it fixed but it is basically undriveable need advice please
Roxy - 13-Dec-16 @ 6:06 PM
I had my mercedes serviced at mercedes benz Temple Fortune London NW11 While it was being serviced they phoned me to say they had damaged my car by jet washing it. Paint the size of a small hand had come off. It cad been repaired 2 years previously by Mercedes Brentford. There was a small damage since then on the same panel but I foot away and some scuffing on the bumper. They have offered to pay half of the repair. Which I find unfair. They deny responsibility making excuses that water has come through the paintwork and loosened the original repair. I tried Mercedes head office who raised the issue but could do nothing else useful. I should go to a London lawyer, can you help. I do not know how to proceed
Jaq - 7-Dec-16 @ 11:00 AM
Please help! My boyfriends motor scooter broke down last week and he took it to the garage he bought it from for repair. When he went to pick it up they charged him £115 for a service! But they hadn't noticed that it had a problem - they hadn't fixed anything! (Just thinking they must have turned it on and noticed it wasn't working properly??) So my boyfriend paid them for a service he didn't ask for and left the bike there to now get fixed. They are now trying to charge him an extra £200 to fix the clutch that it went in for I the first place! Should he have to pay for the service (and the spark plugs/filter/anything else they did) that he didn't ask for? Where do we stand? Thank you!
LauraG - 11-Oct-16 @ 10:41 PM
2/10/2016 Hi need some advice I took my car to a garage for a new cluch end of July..8 weeks ago...other day noticed a burning smell and cluch slipping looked under my car oil dripping all over took the car to the garage who did the cluch...he's come up with its faulty gear box...I have never had any gearbox trouble until the cluch was fittedI've got a feeling this as happened when the cluch was fitted any advice please
Deb - 2-Oct-16 @ 8:08 AM
Kaz14 - Your Question:
24/09/2016.had my RCZ now for 3 years and love it. Yesterday took it in for a full service and MOT to the Peugeot dealer I bought it from. Picked it up 4hrs later and jumped in to take it home. I pulled out of the parking bay only to hear a really bad grinding noise to the front and found the front wheels are rubbing the front bumper. On full lock the wheels are grinding and rubbing the front housing. It's undrivable and so I left it at the garage and refused to take it off the forecourt. I now have a courtesy car until Monday but I'm wondering how and what has happened to my beautiful car.If I'd driven it off the forecourt and brought it back with this complaint I bet I would have been accused of damaging it myself so m glad I had the sense to leave it there. What they will say on Monday is a real worry and what they will do to. Will keep you posted. Kaz14.

Our Response:
We hope it is nothing too serious, thankfully you did the right thing by leaving it where it was.
ComplaintExpert - 26-Sep-16 @ 10:38 AM
24/09/2016......had my RCZ now for 3 years and love it. Yesterday took it in for a full service and MOT to the Peugeot dealer I bought it from. Picked it up 4hrs later and jumped in to take it home. I pulled out of the parking bay only to hear a really bad grinding noise to the front and found the front wheels are rubbing the front bumper. On full lock the wheels are grinding and rubbing the front housing. It's undrivable and so I left it at the garage and refused to take it off the forecourt. I now have a courtesy car until Monday but I'm wondering how and what has happened to my beautiful car. If I'd driven it off the forecourt and brought it back with this complaint I bet I would have been accused of damaging it myself so m glad I had the sense to leave it there. What they will say on Monday is a real worry and what they will do to. Will keep you posted. Kaz14.
Kaz14 - 25-Sep-16 @ 8:45 AM
Need a little advice ? I dropped my car off at a garage on 22nd of April..........As it had an engine rattle at 2000 rpm..........I explained the problem in detail to the lad behind the service desk........ And told him to call me when they had diagnosed the problem........When they first called me 4 days later they said the rattle could'nt be heard......I explained the problem again.........And the following day he rang again...Saying YES we can hear it.........And the car needs a set of Hydraulic lifters in the top of the engine............I agreed the cost and said YES..........change the parts.............Approx 10 days later the garage called and said the car is ready..............I went to collect it......paid....and got in the car..............It still rattled....And the car was runningbadly......(The car was running fine when I dropped it off and just had the engine rattle at 2000 rpm).......I left the car with the garage..............And 4 days later, they still have it.......I have already paid them £565.....Parts and labour.......Am I right in thinking that due to the fault being misdiagnosed they now have to put the car right at no additional cost to myself ? The parts put in the engine cost £220....... But because the problem is still there and the engine still rattles I'd say it did'nt need the parts.. UPDATE.........Various calls later and one today (14.06.2016) The garage rang again and said they cannot get the car to idle correctly and the engine still rattles).........But yet they want me to take the car away.....Drive it.......And see if the idle problem solves itself........It sounds to me as though they just want rid of me as a customer..........Plus I would still be left with the original engine rattle fault........... Should I go and collect the car.......Or would that be a mistake ? Would appreciate some advice as soon as possible please......As they are expecting me to take my faulty car away within a few days....Many thanks
steve2748 - 16-Jun-16 @ 9:46 PM
Please help! I had my car in the garage on 2nd June as I had a bad power stearing leak, garage called to say I needed a full stearing rack at a cost of £312.00 I agreed to have it done as I was going on holiday on the 4th June and needed the car to be safe to get us there. I picked car up from garage on 3rd (they had it overnight). I went away for the week only using my car to dive there and back, didn't use it for the week I was there. To my horror as I turned into my street the whining noise was there like before. I checked my power stearing fluid and it was completely empty! I've refilled the fluid and it's leaking out.
Cathd - 12-Jun-16 @ 5:23 AM
Hi. Please give me an advice. My mum was driven her car and the overheat light switch on then it switch off. She brought it to the garage and the mechanic told iss a gasket. She left her car for a temp repair then he said he cant fix as it wont work and need to do bigger repair for 500£ her car was not value that much so he offered a swap of a car(fixed and fully working car) and some money towards it. She accepted as she "trust him". When she drove the car home I noticed white smoke(he said because the car was not in use and its normal).when i opened the bonned there was a hissing sound as was raining so basicly its over heated engine(the car was just in use for 15min).the smoke still continouse. When i looked throught papers i found a garage service notice(belong to previous owner)that the motor suffered major internal damage due to overheat and is not economical for repair. I phone the garage and he didnt pick the call i message him about the smoke and engine(didnt mention the note) im willing to take the car to other garage today to check it but Im really feel sorry for my mum she spend a lot of her hard earned moneys and I m really worry if there is anything we can do about it. Please help thank you
Wio - 30-Apr-16 @ 9:29 AM
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