I was wondering to myself just the other day what was I to do with three days off on the trot… However, no sooner had I returned home from my last day at work, than there was that knock on the door which signalled a favour might be called for. My neighbour’s Rover 25 Impression had failed its MoT and the aforementioned owner was clutching the fail sheet in his paw. He was looking to see if I had any appetite for undertaking the repair work on his behalf, as the quote offered by the testing station was quite scandalous.
Without going into names, I will stop as far as saying this place is part of a chain who claims to ‘go the extra mile’, and for me rates either beyond useless or superb depending on how you view them. Looking at the fail sheet that totalled nothing more than a split drive shaft CV boot and an advisory notice for the same component on the other side, I wondered if the quote was actually in Russian Roubles rather than Queen’s Sterling.
Either way it was bloody eye watering to say the least!
After suggesting both the boots were replaced, a fee was agreed that undercut the quotation by almost £120. The joints were knocked off, the drive shaft gaiters were soon fitted to MoT standards and the little Rover will be submitted for re-test in the next couple of days. After pondering the matter for little while over a brew just earlier while doing the job, I realised that some good old-fashioned ripping-off almost took place.
I know for a certain fact this chain uses the supple-type replacement boot kits with a special tool that fits the boots in minutes rather than hours. My sources have confirmed this. So where exactly is all this labour charge going? Nowhere, I’m sorry to say. The car gets fixed in 10 seconds flat and the customer is paying for the privilege of having their car parked in the car park doing sod all for a couple of hours – and it’s bang out of order too!
However, this is not the only tale of woe from this particular garage, either. A very good chum of mine (and avid fan of this site) took his company Volkswagen Passat Estate to a different branch earlier last week for an MoT. The car failed on a defective number plate light and picked up an advisory notice for its rear brake pads wearing low. Authorisation was sought from his fleet management company to put right the naughty number plate bulb and (rarely in my experience) to replace the rear pads.
I say rarely ‘purely’ because my past experience of fleet management has found me driving a car with wipers that simply won’t clear the screen or brakes that almost spark and hum like a shipbuilder’s arc welder before authorisation. He asks how long the car is going to be and the reply floors him like ‘Enerys `ammer’ – two and a half hours!
Understandably my aforementioned sparring partner was far from being enamoured with the idea of hanging around a waiting room, when he ought to be on the road doing business.
He suggested that the car was brought back at a more sociable time for the brake pads to be replaced, only to be told they cannot release the car back to him. Nor would they allow him to use their ‘phone to speak to the fleet management company. Or to go to the car to get the number, so he had to call from his mobile, citing ‘health and safety’ reasons. In the end he got through to the right person and, with great reluctance from the garage staff, the car was released from the ramps.
I’ll bet they did this because they were worried about a job falling off the list and not showing on the day’s final takings. The reason for such a delay in doing the job revolves around the fact that fleet drivers are often seen as lepers of the motoring world. The time of two and a half hours allows them to fit the work around other quick jobs, rather than dedicate one fitter to the job – that way, they get it done in one hit. Also, I will bet my last Rolo that changing rear pads on a 2010 Passat can be done in around an hour.
We are, of course, referring to the same outfit which became an automotive laughing stock some years back when they gained the UK national contract for the repair and servicing of Daewoo cars. In very little time they made a pig’s ear of it in my opinion and disposed of all their garages – only to buy them all back again recently. Why they think they are now up to standard in the increasingly cut-throat world of after-sales amazes me.
I don’t think I can be surprised any more.
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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