WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR VEHICLE IS DAMAGED AT A GARAGE – 03/05/2017

I have just resolved a case with my scooter whereby I spotted damage to it 1 week after a service, which I thought I would share with you.

In essence, it went in for a full service and replacement parts from when it was blown over at work a few weeks ago only for it to come back with a hairline crack in the centre panel that I didn’t spot straight away.  This is only weeks after hitting loose tarmac from a badly repaired pothole that smashed two panels, which I successfully reclaimed from Edinburgh City Council (covered on a separate blog).  Never a dull moment for The Grumpy Git, you might say!

I had been off work all week on holiday and the scooter remained unused during that time and was secured behind a locked garden gate.  I came to use it on the Bank Holiday Monday, spotted the damage and took it to the garage 1 week after it had been serviced to discuss it.  I was faced with one of the Directors and co-owners, who took photos and was quite reticent in trying to resolve it.  Nevertheless, he said he would speak to the workshop the following day and see what the mechanic said.

I returned to the garage the following day (yesterday at the time of writing this), only to be told that the mechanic denied all knowledge of it and this stance was supported by the Director and co-owner.  He said that there was no way of knowing if it had been damaged at the garage, he wanted to give me the benefit of the doubt (how very generous), said he would check the CCTV and get back to me within the next few days but if I hadn’t heard from him to pop back down.  I had no faith that he would do as he would say and besides, it’s hardly an independent audit is it?

The damage that we are talking about is on the centre panel adjoining the panels that would be removed to get to the spark plug, and there was no way that this could have been damaged anywhere else other than at the garage where it was serviced.  This was the only garage it had been entrusted with, and I was expected to be satisfied with that outcome.  Clearly he did not know me very well, although he does now!

I came home last night, wrote the following letter and sent it by e-mail;

Dear X,

(Scooter make and model – registration number)

On Monday 24th April 2017 I took the above vehicle (scooter make and model) in to your garage for a full service. 

While in your possession, it was damaged as follows:

  • Centre glossy panel has incurred a hairline crack

You were under a legal duty to take care of my scooter while it was in your possession. 

Furthermore, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires you to use reasonable skill and care while carrying out work. 

The fact that the scooter was damaged while in your possession is evidence that you failed to take reasonable care of it.

I look forward to receiving, within the next 14 days, your written proposal to affect a satisfactory repair to the vehicle, at no cost to me. 

If you fail to respond in that time, I shall exercise my common law right to employ another garage to carry out the work and look to you to bear the cost. 

Any attempt to resist paying such a bill would leave me with no alternative but to issue a claim against you in the Sheriff Court for recovery of the money without further reference to you.

However, in accordance with the Civil Procedure Pre-Action Protocol, I would be willing to refer my case to the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair, as I understand they have a free conciliation and low cost independent arbitration scheme.

This would be a way of successfully resolving my dispute without resorting to legal action.

Please confirm whether you are a member of the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair.

Yours sincerely

I attached this letter complete with a tagline of my website below my name to help him focus his mind, fired it off by e-mail and asked for an acknowledgement that never arrived.

In the meantime, I had asked the garage where I bought it from to price this part up and the cost of fitting it and I did my due diligence on Companies House to see who the Directors and Shareholders are at the garage I was at loggerheads with.

The price of the replacement panel is £53 and to fit it would cost £117, although it would cost the garage nothing if they simply did the right thing for the sake of goodwill, reputational risk, the potential loss of a longstanding customer who has spoken well of them on social media in the past and everything else.

I was prepared to take this to Court and it would have made the newspapers, as I don’t do things by halves!  Would you seriously bother arguing with a longstanding customer over a £50 panel?

I came home this afternoon, printed off the letter I had e-mailed, signed it and hand delivered it to the garage knowing who the Directors and Shareholders are that work in the shop.  I asked one of the staff his name and if he was one of the Directors and Shareholders, he confirmed that he was and I replied by saying that I thought so as I had checked on Companies House before I warmed to my theme by saying that I had e-mailed his Partner last night, asked for a reply and I hadn’t heard anything.  Before I could take it much further, he said that they had a brief discussion this morning and agreed to order the part and get it replaced.

In all fairness, he apologised twice for the lack of a courtesy reply from his Partner and therein lies a lesson in itself.  If a professional complainer is rattled and you have agreed to settle his complaint, the best thing you can do is to let him know by e-mail as soon as possible and not rattle his cage even more by avoiding him!

He did say that, “We cannot be certain that it happened here…” and it was clear this was a decision that rankled them a bit, although I countered it by saying that the law of probabilities says that it is likely that it has in the eyes of a reasonable man and this is not wear and tear.

However, my work was done and I left it at that.  That wasn’t the end of the saga though and this blog here explains what happened next.

I cover various scenarios complete with templates based on real-life test cases that work in my book now on sale via Amazon as an e-book and paperback priced £2.99 / £7.99.

DOWNLOAD to your Kindle or get the free Kindle app from Amazon and read the book on your IPad / tablet / smartphone / laptop.

If you have enjoyed reading this, feel free to take a look at my other website http://www.awriterinedinburgh.com which showcases my writing and services I offer.

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