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Car repair rip offs

(81 Posts)
Chewbacca Fri 23-Oct-20 14:22:22

Last weekend, whilst driving home, the sudden roaring emanating from my car suggested that I'd got a problem with the exhaust. DS came up that day, took a look and confirmed that there was indeed a hole in the top section of the exhaust and it should be a simple job to just replace that section. On Tuesday, I took the car into a nationally known garage that specialises in tyres and exhausts. They told me that the problem wasn't in just one section; it was far worse than that and the whole thing would have to be replaced. Estimated cost £389 + vat. On seeing the look of shock on my face, the young man said that, as I was a pensioner (I'm not) he would knock 20% off as a goodwill gesture. I phoned DS who told me to walk away and he would take the car into the same garage company, but a different branch in the next town, himself. DS is just back with the car. On closer examination of the exhaust, he agreed with the garage that, in the long run, it would be better to just replace the lot. Quoted price to DS? £195 + vat. The job has been done and the car is now fine. But I'm livid that a well known garage obviously saw an older woman who didn't have a clue about car mechanics and saw an easy touch to exploit her and double the cost. I thank goodness for DS but it shouldn't be, that in 2020, we still need to have man to deal with things of this nature to avoid being taken advantage of. I'm still considering my next move....... angry

Nannylovesshopping Fri 23-Oct-20 14:27:32

This sort of incident makes me so mad, I’m hopping for you, I would like to kick that man extremely hard in the shin then he would be hopping!

Chewbacca Fri 23-Oct-20 14:35:51

I'm thinking of a little higher than his shins Nannylovesshopping. angry

EllanVannin Fri 23-Oct-20 15:56:11

Disgusting isn't it ?
Nearly 2 years ago my D rang around car companies because the alternator had gone in her car. Most of them saw her coming, because it was a Chrysler , a big car. If she'd gone to any of the places mentioned she'd have been well-ripped off. Sharks.

Not far from her there's a scruffy little garage so in she went and the chap was falling over himself with politeness and willingness to go along to the house and do the fitting there as the car wouldn't move. It was January, bitterly cold and an atrocious day but the chap carried on and even checked everything else while he was at it. He took it for a drive around to make sure it was okay and it was £800 less than she'd been quoted so he is her man for tyres and everything else. D gave him extra for his work and honesty too.

Mapleleaf Fri 23-Oct-20 16:11:37

You are right to be livid, chewbacca. It seems to be quite commonplace. A few years ago when I was still taking my car to be serviced at the well known garage I bought it from, it had come to the end if it's guarantee period. Surprisingly, this time it developed a "fault" with the steering rack which would involve a cost of over £600 to rectify (on top of what I'd just paid for the service). I just laughed and said I'd have to think about that as I didn't have that kind of spare cash to hand. I took it to a local garage who looked it over and said there was absolutely no problem at all with the steering rack. Needless to say, that small garage has had my business ever since.
You are right though, I think some of these big national garages think, "oh it's a woman, unlikely to have any mechanical knowledge, so we'll scare her with potential serious problems and fleece her for a fortune". This lady was not for fleecing (to misquote a famous female prime minister ??).
It really is a disgrace, isn't it?

Gwenisgreat1 Fri 23-Oct-20 16:16:22

My car had steam coming out of the bonnet while I was on the way to the hospital to see my DD so stopped at the garage we'd bought it from on the way. The garage told me it was because the carpet was wet, I pointed out I hadn't got round to carpeting under the bonnet! I knew it was the steep angle the car was parked that caused it. I left it with them and went to visit my DD (who was about 7 at the time). After the visit I walked back to the garage, but they wouldn't let me have the car because I had no money to pay for it, though we hadn't had the car long. I had to get 2 or 3 buses home. When finally home we found out the cost (it was before mobile phones) and next day get all the buses back to see my daughter. They charged a whack, seemed to think they were justified, but I had no option but to pay up.

Grannynannywanny Fri 23-Oct-20 16:28:54

I went into one of the chain tyre and exhaust places years ago as they had a sign on wall saying free brake check today. Yes, I fell for it as it seemed a while since I’d had the brakes done. Told me the car needed pads and discs urgently and quoted me an eye watering amount of money I didn’t have.
I came home and phoned a local garage and he quoted 40% less and I drove straight there thinking the car wasn’t roadworthy. He told me the brakes were fine for several more months and to call in any time and he’d check for free. He said it was common practice for the nationwide garages to exaggerate jobs and to overprice them.
Needless to say I always go to the trusted local small garage now.

M0nica Fri 23-Oct-20 17:44:50

I refuse to use main dealers or large 'reputable' garages after 2 different main dealers in quick succession returned my car in a dangerous condition. The first one forgot to tighten the wheel nuts on a wheel that had been removed to effect a repair. The second forgot to tighten a joint on the steering wheel and I was buzzing down the motorway, ouside lane , doing 70, when I realised I had excessive movement in the whole steering column.

Now whenever we move we start searching the back streets and industrial units for those garages, often dispapragingly dismissed as 'cowboys', because I know I have more chance of getting good service, good repairs and fair prices than anywhere more flash.

Davidhs Fri 23-Oct-20 18:07:25

It’s not just women they try it on with men just as much, if you wanted a new tumble drier you would look around and choose the best deal for you. For the car you can do the same with Tyres, Exhausts, Brakes, Servicing as well.

When I have my car serviced I expect to get quotes double the lowest.

Oopsadaisy4 Fri 23-Oct-20 18:10:48

I’m with Monica we never use Main Dealers or Tyre and Exhaust suppliers, we use a small local Garage, also used by DHs mates, they never rip us off, if they did they know that they wouldn’t only lose our custom.

Spangler Sat 24-Oct-20 08:58:44

Chewbacca, you have a number of options. You can walk away knowing that you have dodged a bullet. You can post your experience on a wider social media site, as you have done here. But if you are up for some confrontation you can get out your cudgels.

First there's the question of proof. Was the £389 + VAT estimate in writing? If not, proof of that will become an issue. If it was in writing you can post a copy along with the copy of your subsequent invoice to the company's head office, asking for an explanation. Enclose a stamped address envelope, don't use e-mail, they get ignored.

If you get no satisfaction there, you could send all the details of your experience to a newspaper, either national or local. They will love championing your cause, if they think that you have a good case.

Finally, although you haven't been ripped off, thanks in part to your son's intervention, the company did engage in a non competitive practice, and that's illegal. The Office of Fair Trading will either advise you, or if they think it's serious enough, investigate it on your behalf.

It's so sad that you've had such an experience and I hope that by now the red mist has lifted somewhat. Perish the thought that I would make you start to see red again, but do be cautious about accusing them of discrimination. Chances are that you weren't seen as an older person, or even female, my guess is that you were judged to be a mug from whom a fast buck could be made. You have a very strong case when it come to anti-competitive issues.

Good luck, let us know what you do.

Chewbacca Sat 24-Oct-20 09:11:50

Spangler, thanks so much for your post, you offer some good advice. The "red mist" has lifted a fair bit now!
The estimate from the first garage was verbal, so I've no proof of what he said, or that the offer to knock 20% "goodwil gesture" off the original quote was because he "could see I'm a pensioner". To be honest, that stung me more than being ripped off! grin I've already email their HO yesterday but, as you say, doubt that little, if anything, will be done about it. Onwards and upwards!

Septimia Sat 24-Oct-20 09:19:39

Many years ago my father's car failed the MOT because of the steering (I don't remember the technical details). As an engineer himself, he disagreed and arranged another MOT at another garage. He was working, so asked me, accompanied by my aunt, to take the car to the garage. I was probably about 20 at the time.

After we'd announced outselves at reception, the asked me to drive the car along a narrow entranceway, turn left into the workshop and drive onto the ramps. Of course, all the mechanics were watching closely, but they didn't know that I was accustomed to negotiating a narrow driveway between the houses.

Anyway, and thankfully, I performed the task without any problem. They concluded after that that the steering was fine!

Davidhs Sat 24-Oct-20 09:29:09

Spangler I think you are going over the top, it’s up to all of us to shop around and get the best deal, it’s not anti competitive to quote a higher price, although it may be sharp practice. What is illegal is to do poor quality or unsafe work, even then if you pay a low price don't expect high quality work.

The motor trade is probably the worst, main dealers will often charge 3 times the price for any particular task, if it’s a routine non warranty service you can go to an independent repairer, which most of us do.

It’s not only the motor trade, maintenance contracts for domestic appliances and services are often an outrageous rip off. Advice given by tradesmen for work should be always checked out, always get a second opinion or quote. Car insurance, at the last renewal highest quote £1300 lowest £490 for the same cover. As I said it’s not just women, they try it on me all the time, occasionally I get stung too.

Spangler Sat 24-Oct-20 09:40:38

Davidhs Sat 24-Oct-20 09:29:09
Spangler I think you are going over the top, it’s up to all of us to shop around and get the best deal, it’s not anti competitive to quote a higher price, although it may be sharp practice.

I agree, it's not illegal to quote any price at all, you only have to look at any one of the fuel companies to see that you can save twenty pounds or more by using their garage A instead of garage B.

What is illegal is if the company quotes a given price and makes it impossible to achieve that. Like the budget airlines that add on all their creative fees.

This being a national tyre and exhaust company you can be sure that they have a remit from head office.

Sorry to hear that you have been stung, but there is one thing that you could keep in mind for future reference and that's the trade quality companies, like "Checkatrade." They keep tabs on their members, it's a shame there's not something like it for insurance companies. If ever there was a bunch of charlatans..........................

Niobe Sat 24-Oct-20 10:14:13

The first time my car got a puncture I was fortunately very near a tyre and exhaust place so I went in to arrange a repair which they did very quickly but told me the shock absorbers were in a bad way and should be replaced. I thanked them and said that the car was going in for its MOT in 2 days time so I would get it seen to then. I took it in to my usual place and asked them to pay particular attention to the shock absorbers. When I went back to collect the car the mechanic asked me who had told me that the shock absorbers needed replacing because they were fine. I told him and he just shook his head and muttered “Cowboys”!

I have my son’s little car at the moment and last week the bonnet jammed so we took it into the well known garage ( or auto centre) that he uses and asked them to fix it and service the car as it was due a service. Of course we got the phone call about the huge list of work needed. My husband went down and asked to see the parts they had said should be seen to and in passing ‘casually’ mentioned that he was an engineer. Well the story suddenly changed to ‘ the work wasn’t really urgent after all’ and the car would be fine for a while!! Nothing in writing !!

Niobe Sat 24-Oct-20 10:16:13

Pored too early
They had wanted £1100 for the non urgent work!!!

Davidhs Sat 24-Oct-20 10:19:46

Be careful of “Checkatrade” or any other similar outfit, companies pay a subscription to be listed, and are not likely to be blacklisted unless they are criminals. I’ve just checked builders in my town, 2 are listed which I’ve never heard of, both have extensive reviews, it’s no guarantee of good work.

Shandy57 Sat 24-Oct-20 10:33:14

It is so disappointing isn't it. When my husband died in 2016 I had four new tyres on my car, I'm a nervous driver and wasn't sure how old they were. I found a fantastic mechanic in 2018, and last week rang him because one of them kept going down, I thought I had a puncture. He changed the tyre and said he wasn't surprised it was going down, it was 12 years old - apparently tyres are dated. I'm angry the tyre place took advantage of me and won't be going back.

Georgesgran Sat 24-Oct-20 22:49:35

When I got a red Lancia 40 years ago, I found a local garage, specializing in ‘foreign’ cars. They’ve looked after my family’s cars ever since. Saab, BMW, Volvo, Toyota and Porsche - nothing has been a problem. Once took a Porsche back to the main dealer - lovely filter coffee, B&O TV and fresh pastries and an hourly labour charge that could have got me a reliable barrister!!

Never been overcharged by my local chap - nothing done without permission and always shown the ‘dud’ part (as if I know what it is!!). Not the ‘flashy’ premises, but the work’s second to none. Thank you Trevor!

mokryna Sat 24-Oct-20 23:46:04

The local garage is fine but with all the new technology in today’s cars the repairs can only be dealt with by the ‘dealer’ garage,

I went to my very helpful local garage because the windscreen wipers on my VW polo would not stop. He said I had to go to the ‘dealers’. as he didn’t have the necessary specialist equipment.

I looked up the problem on the web where I found there was a long list of complaints. Fearing the worse I went to the vw dealer, they of course, had never heard of the problem, laughed at the idea although I showed the web page.

I have to go back this week, I have no choice, to have the car repaired but I know I won’t like the charges.

Spangler Sun 25-Oct-20 00:39:41

Georgesgran Sat 24-Oct-20 22:49:35
Never been overcharged by my local chap - nothing done without permission and always shown the ‘dud’ part (as if I know what it is!!). Not the ‘flashy’ premises, but the work’s second to none. Thank you Trevor!

We too have a Trevor, only his name is Richard. When there was an almighty bang whilst driving the VW Golf, I almost needed to change my underwear. But Richard came to the rescue. The front suspension has a coiled spring, inside the spring is a telescopic suspension arm.

The spring had snapped, pot hole damage most likely, but the suspension arm had held firm. It would have cost a king's ransom at a VW dealer, but Richard replaced the damaged spring, and the one on the other side for less then a hundred pounds.

GrannyBettie Sun 25-Oct-20 09:27:10

We bought a demonstrator car with 11000 miles on the clock from a Dealer. 6 months later having done about 5,000 miles I took it in for a service (which was free). I was told that whilst he mechanic was looking at it he noticed the tyres would need replacing and the brake pads. When I queried how long was left on each I was told 1000 miles so I said I would change when the 1000 miles was up. I took it to a local chap for his opinion and he said there was at least 4000 miles left in the tyres and if I "wasn't heavy on the brakes" 5000miles. Beware the free service from Dealer garages.

Yellowmellow Sun 25-Oct-20 09:32:36

I had a similar experience with a large well known company some years ago. As it's a large Organisation people think they can trust them. Thankfully l walked away too. As Spangler says it's having the proof. Advice to anyone get a quote in writing. Interesting to see if they want to do that. I'm glad you weren't taken in by them.

Patticake123 Sun 25-Oct-20 09:34:48

This needs to be reported to their head office and trading standards. Deplorable behaviour.