Timely warning regarding garage standards..

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Timely warning regarding garage standards..

#1 Post by JPB » Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:51 pm

Relating to my daily driver, hence this subject being posted to the "off topic" area of the forum.
Last month, my everydays transportation device - on days when the van isn't coming out to play - went into a Toyota dealership as close as it's possible to find such a thing in the wild and wooly borders region, for its annual "full" service. The dealership in question has been known to me since I worked in a nearby garage during my time spent at IM more decades ago than I'd care to dwell on. Until this service, they had never caused me to doubt their integrity, or the skill and all-round ability of their workshop staff to achieve the desired result at a very fair cost. Primarily, they are able to provide a compatible car as a loaner to get home in after dropping the bB in to them for its occasional servicing and ongoing maintenance needs.
When the car was in there, a fault that would have been a failure point at yesterday's MOT test was diagnosed and marked in red on the service report. I had booked the car into the (much more local) import specialist premises where the bB's MOTs have been conducted since it was imported for me in 2016.
On arrival, after the usual (physically distanced, naturally) warm greetings at the garage, I mentioned the alleged fault to the tester, who has been performing the test on my car each year since its arrival in the UK, and whom I trust absolutely as his reputation is good, "firm, but fair" being that which you'd reasonably expect. I need to know what, if anything, is wrong and I certainly don't want a "friendly" MOT or a downright bent one! So before the test was commenced, the car went up in the air in order that the tester could see the nature of the issue and could then offer his advice about the seemingly excessive cost that the dealer - recently taken over by a national group of dealerships after having been in family hands since they started trading in the early 1980s - had suggested for the work that was supposedly needed.
The parts condemned by the dealer's workshop chap were examined in my presence and, so it turned out, were in fact in perfect condition with no sign of wear or imminent failure being visible. My car then went on to be tested by the book as I took a seat in the garage's waiting room, or "Portacabin" as I believe the architectural term to be. I sat in there, watched the 1 o' clock BBC news on my phone, then the local bulletin and, as the programme was ending, I was removing the earphones as the tester came into the room, handed me the keys for the car and announced that all was well, no advisories were found much less any actual dangerous faults, and my ongoing preservation of the car is working as, some four and a half years since first landing in the UK, no rust has appeared anywhere and everything still works and looks more like a three year old car than one built in June 2005.

No prizes for guessing who's most likely having the job of servicing my bB from now on! ;)

I'm not naming the dealership here because they may yet offer an explanation, an apology, an excuse or all three, but I hope that a business which I'd previously have believed to be a paragon of excellence and the exception to the main dealerships' often lousy reputation among the general trade and public alike.

The dealership had quoted around £800 for this needless work, the tester at the MOT venue told me that, had such work been required, his premises could do the entire job at a shade over £80, including the (O/E Toyota/Daihatsu) parts!

I'm assuming that nobody who visits this forum, or either of the others where this post shall be appearing, would be daft enough to accept everything that any garage told them unless they had been a customer for many years, but that was my position, and still, following the erstwhile family business' takeover by a national group of garages (and "fast fit"- style premises), I could so easily have been ripped off by the fitting of completely unnecessary parts. Times like this, I wish I still kept well enough to take care of my own cars, but if anyone without the technical knowledge that I'm fortunate enough to have should be taken in it would be a great shame so be careful folks, always question anything, a garage with integrity will always be happy to explain what's required in terms that make sense, and will not rip anyone off.

Is this the way the trade is evolving? I really hope not. :(
"Home is where you park it", so the saying goes. That may yet come true.. :oops:

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Re: Timely warning regarding garage standards..

#2 Post by GHT » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:21 pm

What do I say to that John? You answered your own question in the last sentence. Life has taught me, buyer beware and the internet has reaffirmed that. When the Chinese firm S.A.I.C. bought MG they just did a badge engineering job of their current models. On a Rover/MG website, that's the more modern latter day MG's & Rovers, I saw the sorry tale of what was apparently a young man. He had saved, scraped, worked his nuts off to buy his first new car. He bought the MG3, as recommended by the publication: "MG Enthusiast." The flush of enthusiasm for his car quickly diminished after it went back to the dealer at the end of the first week. Over the next nine months it went in and out of the workshop as much as his sex life went in and out. Finally, he took a four grand hit on it, the dealer being the only garage prepared to buy it, they sold him a second hand VW Golf, it never let him down.

Your story about a proprietor owned garage becoming part of a conglomerate resonated with me. Our dentist was much the same, reliable, helpful and sympathetic. When I had an abscess and phoned the out of hours number, he invited to his home where he had a stock of antibiotics. He didn't do it for free but he didn't take advantage of the distress that I was in, charging me a reasonable price. A couple of years ago he retired, he sold the business to BUPA. They treat you like a cash cow, we now have a new dentist.

Your experience is akin to the way insurance companies behave, it's taken legislation to bring them into line. And you can repeat the scenario into almost any scene where the buyer has little knowledge of the subject.

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