The motor industry makes a selling point of complaints handling processes rather than concentrating on the reasons why so many things can, and do, go wrong in garages and car dealers.
Whilst the majority of car dealers and garage do a conscientious and capable job for motorists, it’s important to remember that this is an unregulated industry sector where mechanics and car sales staff don’t have to be licensed to do their job.
Inevitably, if businesses don’t have to meet minimum standards, some garages won’t and they’ll take shortcuts by not recruiting the best staff and/or selling shoddy cars and parts.
Add in the fact that so many price comparison services encourage motorists to buy cars and services based on price, and it’s not surprising when things go wrong at the cheap end of the market.
And whilst it isn’t an excuse, even the best businesses are run by good people who have off days. The acid test is their quality control systems – good businesses must make sure that their customer service and workmanship levels never compromise your motoring safety.
Your Consumer Rights As A Motorist
When things go wrong and you find yourself dealing with a faulty car or garage service, you have The Consumer Rights Act 2015 on your side.
Here are some of the highlights to help you understand your rights. Key to all this is reasonableness on both sides:
- If a vehicle you’ve bought from a car dealer turns out to be of unsatisfactory quality or is unfit for purpose or not as described, you can claim/get a full refund within 30 days. Stop using the car and don’t hang about.
- If you are outside the 30-day ‘right to reject’ period you have to give the dealer or garage one opportunity to repair or replace any goods you consider to be of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described.
- You can state your preference for a refund but the retailer can normally choose whichever would be cheapest or easier for it. If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, you can then claim a refund or a price reduction if you wish to keep the product.
- Check if the business concerned is part of a Trading Standards Institute scheme meaning they operate to an Approved Code of Practice as in New Cars The Motor Ombudsman, Car Sales The Motor Ombudsman; Used Car Sales RAC Used Vehicle; Car Servicing & Repairs The Motor Ombudsman; Car Servicing & Repairs Trust My Garage; Car Servicing & Repairs Bosch Car Service. You can take your complaint to the above, once you’ve had a final/unacceptable offer from the offending business in accordance with their terms and conditions.
- Don’t forget that you might have recourse from a credit card company if you used one to pay your bill. Speak to them to find out what you need to provide them with, to claim your money back.
- Stay calm. Nice polite people stand a much better chance of getting a solution than difficult ones. Know who you speak to and when. Document your experience and all conversations. If you’re a member of FOXY Lady Drivers Club make sure we know what’s happened. We’ll offer advice and the business will know we’re watching the outcome with interest – and the possibility of sharing your story within The Club.
- If you’re dealing with a manufacturer approved car dealer or garage you ultimately have the car manufacturer to escalate your complaint to but you’ll still need to demonstrate that you gave their annointed garage or dealer the chance to rectify this AND went through any Trading Standards Institute scheme BEFORE getting them involved.
- Don’t imagine that you can simply go to another garage to get things put right or that Garage Number One will pay your bills if you do. They don’t have to. You should give Garage Number One the chance to put it right – even if you’re simply going through the motions.
- Even if you’re unhappy with a business bill, you are usually required to pay it but you should write on the invoice ‘Paid Under Duress’ to show you didn’t want to, it wasn’t good value and/or the problem wasn’t rectified. Then commence the official complaint process.
The Consumer Rights Act
Remember that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that
- Goods shouldn’t be faulty or damaged when you get them. This is subject to a price reality check of course ie the cheaper the price the lower the quality expectation should be.
- Goods should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for, as well as any specific purpose you made known to the retailer before you agreed to buy the goods.
- Goods supplied must match any description given to you (as in any privately sold vehicle advertisement) or any models or samples shown to you at the time of purchase.
Motoring Support For Club Members
If you are a member of FOXY Lady Drivers Club our Helpdesk will advise you in these circumstances and add our support. Sometimes there are lessons to be learned by members of course.
However, where all conciliation fails and it’s evident that the business is at fault, we have been known to issue a Red Card by writing a blog and mentioning this at You Tube. No business can afford bad PR but when the business/customer relationship has totally broken down we are less able to help you negotiate an amicable settlement without resorting to Court.