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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 11892
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Max, I hope you’ll be able to help with my issue and it’s

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Hi Max,I hope you’ll be able to help with my issue and it’s not too specific and that a bad car service falls under poor service.I recently got my car serviced by an official Citroen dealer. The quality of the service was horrendous and resulted in my car breaking down whilst I was at the eurotunnel terminal, heading off to France for the night. The breakdown meant I had to take out roadside AA cover, I opted for the year membership as it worked out cheaper, however still costing £160.I complained to the garage and they have offered me a “free” service as a “gesture of goodwill” and have also offered to clean out the engine bay as it is full of oil. They are refusing to compensate me for the AA membership, claiming this is something drivers should have anyway and that I will now have the benefits of membership for the full year.Is it reasonable for me to expect compensation for this? I argued that I would not have otherwise needed the cover and the benefit I will now get should be compensation for their horrendous work and the fact they wasted 5 hours of my holiday whilst I sat waiting for a mechanic.Thanks,Alex

Good afternoon. I will try to assist with your question but need more info first - also i apologise if delayed in replying

when was it serviced and when did you drive to the Eurotunnel?

how old is the car?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The car was serviced on Wednesday 18th April and I drove to the eurotunnel on Saturday 21st April. It’s 5 years old and had no problems up until the incident

I have been asked to look at this for you.

What exactly went wrong with the vehicle?

I am under the impression that you can no longer take out AA cover and immediately asked for assistance. I thought it had changed that you had to have been a member of the 24 hours before you could do that. Has it changed?

Did you tell the garage that did the service that you were going to France?

As much background details possible would be useful please. Thank you

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The oil filter seal was incorrectly fitted which meant I lost all my oil whilst driving. It wasn't the only issue with the service, sadly I can't tell you exactly what the other mistakes were as it isn't noted in the breakdown report but the mechanic mentioned that they hadn't refitted a bolt in my engine, he found it in the gap by my windscreen wipers, and they had also jammed a hatch shut which had to be payed open with a screwdriver.No you're able to take out cover at the roadside however you're given low priority, so anyone in the area that is already a member will be put ahead of you in the queue.I didn't tell the garage before and I don't remember if I brought it up when they informed me of the leak whilst I picked my car up, but I don't think I did.I gave my car to them for an MOT and service, they did note on the final MOT report that there was "oil leak (intercooler)", so they caused the leak in the service then noted it in the MOT. I don't know anything about cars and wasn't told that this was a major issue or that the car would not be fit for road, so I just thought I'd be able to get it looked at when I got back.In speaking to the garage since, they have never denied that it was entirely their fault, the service manager I've been speaking to just said that he's told his mechanics to be more careful.

Thank you.

I know a little about cars. A lifelong hobby!

This would probably be an oil water intercooler (as opposed to what is normally called an intercooler which doesnt carry oil and cools induction air. )

Whether a leak is serious or not depends on where it’s coming from and how quickly it’s leaking. Certainly, a leak from an oil filter is serious and that should have been resolved.

I cannot accept that they told you that they had given you the car back with an oil leak.

If you lost all your oil whilst driving, and surprised that your car is wrecked and needing a new engine.

The legal situation is that they are in breach of the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act because they have failed to carry out the job with reasonable care and skill and as a result of that you have suffered loss.

There is also the common law negligence issue where for there to be a claim there needs to be:

1. a duty of care

2. the duty needs to be breached

3. as a result of the breach there needs to be loss injury or damage

4. the loss injury or damage must be as a result of the breach

5. it must be reasonably foreseeable.

In your case I think that all of those are satisfied. Claims will often fall down on 5 but in your case, I think that it’s reasonably foreseeable that if a car is “repaired” incorrectly and there is an oil leak, that it would break down.

The thing is of course that you can’t beat the garage with a stick until they pay up and if they want to pay up, your only remedy is to take them to the Small Claims Court.

If you had missed your connection or ferry or at to pay a couple of 100 Quid Extra Tunnel charge that is not reasonably foreseeable and would not be recoverable in my opinion.

To be honest, if you paid £160 to join the AA and they either recovered you all resolved the issue, I think that’s an excellent deal and it would be cheaper than actually ringing a garage up to come out and do the job.

What the garage dealer said about everybody should have to be in the AA in any event is a complete and utter load of rubbish.

I would suggest that you write to the garage inappropriate terms and tell them that unless they agree to pay these costs you incurred in which you would not have incurred had they repaired the vehicle properly, you will take them to the Small Claims Court and that they have up to (say) 17 August 2018 to say whether they will after which you will issue Small Claims Court proceedings without further notice.

You can do it quickly and easily here

Can I clarify anything else for you?

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please take a moment to look at the top right hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen. It’s important you use the rating service because that gives me credit. It doesn’t just give me a pat on the head! Opinion, (Although there is an incentive scheme where the more five-star ratings I get, I do actually get a pat on the head! :-)) All you need to do is press Submit. Thank you.

If you still need any point clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.


F E Smith and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thanks very much for your help! I think I have just one more question.The garage did offer a "free" service and to clean the engine bay but given everything thats happened, and how useless they have been since the incident, I think I'd rather either take a refund for the service and get the engine bay cleaned elsewhere and recover the costs from them, I assume this would be possible?I plan on emailing today with a deadline of this Friday.

It would have to be reasonable for you to put the vehicle back to the original garage to give them an attempt to put it right. If they have completely screwed up, what’s to say that they are not going to screw up the remedial work?

What you might want to do therefore is tell them that you will be happy if they do the remedial work provided they give you a courtesy car while this is carried out and they give you a without limit warranty that they will pay for any other work which is required if the remedial work is not done properly.

If they are so convinced that the remedial work is going to be done properly, they will have no problem giving you that warranty.

I can tell you now that They won’t give you the warranty but at least you gave them the opportunity albeit subject to conditions. That shows that you were reasonable if ever the matter ends up in court.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I've had some back and forth with the service manager and he's now saying his final offer is to repay the £169 AA membership, clean the engine bay and fix the oil filter. He's saying he won't re-service my car but he will give me a 15% discount on my next service.I'm not at all satisfied by this as surely he should be cleaning the engine bay anyway, the oil filter was fixed by the AA so that doesn't do me much good and theres absolutely no chance I'll be using the garage again so the discount does me no good either.He says its his final offer so obviously if I refuse I'll have to escalate it. They are covered by an ombudsman so would that be the best place to go? I just wanted to double check that I'm I being reasonable in asking for the re-service AND the AA fee paid?Thanks again

I apologise for the delay in getting back to you. I have been off for 2 weeks due to illness.

Back to normal now.

I think the service manager is being somewhat remiss in his rather “economical” offer.

All he is offering in effect is the recovery fee because everything else you paid for within the service!.

What you have to decide is what you would accept and go back to him with that because then, if he turns that down, at least he knows what you are going to take him to the Small Claims Court for

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
No problem at all, I hope you’re well.I did respond saying I would only accept the reservice and the payment of my AA fee, which he hasn’t replied too and it’s past the deadline I gave him.I’ve noticed they’re covered by an ombudsman, would going to them be a better idea than to small claims court?

The beauty of going to a Ombudsman is that it’s free and risk-free and therefore, it’s always worth trying. It doesn’t mean that you can’t take the matter to court with the Ombudsman decision is not favourable.