Having worked in the motor trade for over 40 years, we have heard many stories about people being ripped off by garages and dodgy mechanics.
Whether the mechanic does extra work without permission resulting in a higher than expected bill, you find the car still has the same fault after you have driven it away from the garage, the car develops a new problem very soon after it leaves the garage, or you feel the garage hasn’t given you a reasonable explanation for the repairs they have done, you have rights and you can challenge the garage if you feel dissatisfied or feel you have been unfairly treated.
What to do if you are unsatisfied with the work or service
Something that many people are unaware of is that, when paying your bill at the garage, you are dissatisfied but feel you have to pay it to get your car back, then you can write on yours and their copy of the bill ‘paid under protest’. This will help you later down the line if you decide to take legal action as it can be difficult to claim compensation without having stated this at the time of payment, as paying the bill makes it appear that you were happy with the service at the time.
In some cases, you may drive away and not immediately realise the problem with the car still persists. You have paid the bill, taken the car back, but the garage refuses to accept they are at fault. What do you do now?
It is always best to try to negotiate with the garage directly to try to reach a resolution, however, if these negotiations fail to achieve a fair conclusion then you can take further action to get your problem resolved.
1. As a starting point, put your complaint in writing. Include as much detail as you can from the time you booked the car into the garage to the last communication. Includes dates, times, texts, calls, emails, verbal conversations, work, parts, labour charges, payment, everything you can think of.
2. Next step is to check if the garage is a member of any automotive associations as you may have access to a free dispute resolution service, as long as the garage is a member. Look on the garage website for any logos or mention of accreditations. If you can’t find anything there, search online for popular bodies such as Motor Ombudsman, Retail Motor Industry Federation, Buy with Confidence – you can check if the garage is a member.
3. If you have no luck here, then you could consider ADR – Alternate Resolution Scheme, but again the garage has to be a member of an ADR scheme to do this and you will need the garage to agree to work to reach an agreeable conclusion using ADR. If you again find that the garage is not willing to enter into negotiations, or you are not getting any response at all, then you can report the garage to Trading Standards and consider taking your case to the Small Claims Court.
Take your car to another garage
If you have had a bad experience with a garage, you likely won’t want to put your car back into the same garage if further repairs are needed to resolve the issue.
If you get your car repaired at a new garage, you can try to claim compensation or go to court for the cost of carrying out the extra repairs. You might be able to work with a trade association to get a result if the garage who initially did the work is a member.
Finding an honest and trusted garage
No one is a better judge of whether a garage provides a good service than their customers.
When searching for a new garage, check out the company’s online reputation. Google reviews is a good place to start if looking for a local garage. Review sites such as Trustpilot, TrustaTrader, and Approved Garage will also help assure you that the garage you are considering does deliver what it promises and has an abundance of positive reviews. Steer clear of those that have numerous low scoring reviews!
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If there is anything you are unsure of or need advice on, then the garage should be completely transparent and able to answer your questions so you fully understand what is going on with your car.
Any reputable garage will also provide a quotation upfront. Sometimes extra repairs are required once the mechanic has got under the bonnet, however, any additional costs should always be agreed before the extra work is carried out.
Foster & Heanes has built its reputation on providing exceptional levels of service.
When you do find a garage you can trust again, it will give you peace of mind that any further work required on your car will be completed to a high standard, and at a fair price.
If you have had issues with a garage and are considering an alternative garage to carry out further repairs, please get in touch on 01252 615657.
We have 4 garages in the Fleet area, F&H in Dogmersfield, and Hester’s Garage, Alfanatic and VW Autos in Fleet. We are proud to have accrued 71 Google reviews with a star rating of 4.7. For added reassurance, we are also members of the Buy with Confidence Scheme.