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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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My car wouldn't start so I phoned a local garage. They came

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My car wouldn't start so I phoned a local garage. They came to my house and failed to start it, saying that they had to take it back to the garage to check on the diagnostics computer. This also failed and I was told that the car would have to go to a dealer to be diagnosed, an apparent immobiliser problem. I contacted the dealer who advised that it could cost £100 for recode or it may cost £1000 if a new ECU (the brain) was needed. I couldn't afford £1000 so began looking around for alternatives.
This week I contacted the garage who are holding my car, stating that I was going to take it elsewhere and asked how much I owed them. I was told that I owed them the cost of the tow to the garage, the diagnostic check and storage. The first two I was quite prepared for, but the storage charge of £20 a day I was totally unaware of.
The car has been with them for two months, I have not received an invoice in that time for the work carried out or for the storage charges.
Are they within their rights to charge this without first advising me ?
I am now in a position whereby I can't afford to pay their bill, but unless the car is removed it's incurring the daily £20 charge.
Any advice would be gratefully received.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Please can you tell me if you have disputed the storage charge directly with the garage?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, what do you think ?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've spoken to the garage voicing my disbelief at the extortionate daily charge. I couldn't believe that they could charge such a fee without advising me beforehand.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hi there and thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks for your patience. You would be able to argue that this is an unfair charge because it is not something which you were advised of in advance or given the opportunity to challenge or even consider whether to continue with. As you are a consumer and they are a business, they must be fair and transparent with their charges and fees. They should not be sneaky about them and not even mention that you are being charged for something, leave it accumulating for a long period and then hold you liable for it. Whilst they could have charged you for storage, which some garages do, this should have been made clear at the outset. They should have told you that they are happy to keep your car whilst they diagnose the problem but that there would be a daily storage charge and check if you are prepared to still go ahead and leave the car there. So overall this could be an unfair contractual term (you do not need a written contract, there would be an implied contract even if there was nothing in writing).So you have a couple of options now:• Try to negotiate with them to waive or reduce the fees• Pay the fees under protest and then pursue the garage for their refund, such as through the small claims court• Refuse to pay but if they hold your car and refuse to release it until payment is made you may have to go down the court route again to try and resolve this• At any stage you can also report this to Trading StandardsThis is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow should you have to go down the legal route, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Should you decide to pay the fees under protest and then pursue them or try to go for the value of the car if they refuse to return it, you have the local county court available tp you. Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.