EXCLUSIVE: Garage speaks out following “hard-hitting” Trading Standards sting

Family behind Binley Woods urges independents to check quality control processes after being forced to pay £11,150

EXCLUSIVE: Garage speaks out following “hard-hitting” Trading Standards sting

The family behind Binley Woods Service Centre has spoken out to tell “our side of the story” after being fined £1,500, ordered to pay prosecution costs of £9,500 and a £150 victim surcharge following a Trading Standards operation.

Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards carried out an under-cover operation at the Coventry-based independent in 2018 and was found guilty of an offence contrary to regulation 9 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at Coventry Magistrates Court in November of this year.

Full service/ major service discrepancy 

Charnjit Sekhon, manager at Binley Woods, told GW that the issue was largely down to a discrepancy between a ‘full service’ and ‘major service’.

He said: “Trading Standards booked a vehicle in for a major service over the phone but, for some unknown reason, our receptionist booked the vehicle in for a full service.

“We changed the oil, filter, provided a comprehensive vehicle check and bill £132 for a full service.

“That’s why we didn’t replace the fuel filter and sparks plugs.

“But how could we prove it?

“The court required due diligence proof.

“The only thing that saved us was an advertisement on our website, which showed that we charge £190 for a major service.”

Immediate change

Charnjit first became aware of the undercover operation three days later when he was interviewed by Trading Standards about the recent service and, after seeking advice from the Independent Garage Association (IGA), immediately made changes to the business.

He said: “We’ve changed the telephone system to record incoming and out-going calls, so we have some reference to check any future discrepancies.

“Our workflow process, from initial booking through to when the vehicle leaves the site is now recorded.

“Over the last few months we’ve had a complete new system – it’s the only thing that will save our bacon in the law of court, which asks what processes we have in place to avoid issues.”

“An opportunity to improve”

Speaking to GW, head of member services at the IGA, Frank Harvey said: “It’s the easiest thing in the world to point fingers but when somebody needs help, that’s when we have to prove our worth.

“It can’t have been a comfortable situation but rather than shy away from it they took it as an opportunity to improve their business which really shows their worth.

“We visited the garage, understood what had gone wrong and helped them to put new processes into place.”

Managing the fallout

Since the case was made public, Charnjit admits that the investigation has impacted business but explained that he’s trying to managing the situation.

He said: “We hold our hands up, mistakes were made but since 2018 we have invested substantial sums in training and quality control processes

“After it came out in the press we had two cancellations.

“Now we’re trying to manage it and calling any other cancellations to explain the situation and what improvements we’ve made.”

“Scapegoats”

Charnjit urges other independent garage owners to “up their game in quality control” and said that “we’re used to Trading Standards making scapegoats out of Halfords and Quick Fit but we never expect anything like this to happen to us”.

He added: “Everything was verbal in our business

“We had nothing in place to record what happened and to demonstrate that the employee was properly trained.

“We were asked what the process was from the initiation of a job to completion.

“Verbally, they weren’t interested, they wanted to see something scripted and we now admit that our quality-control was very lapse.

“We’ve learnt from this sting.”

“Intelligence led enforcement”

Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards declined to answer questions put forward by Garage Wire but did state that it seeks “to protect road users by carrying out intelligence led enforcement operations including car servicing projects, forecourt checks and unroadworthy vehicle test purchases.”

It added: “We direct our limited resources using a range of information, including consumer complaint data.”

Has your business been in a similar situation? Share your comments and experiences below.

Home Page Forums EXCLUSIVE: Garage speaks out following “hard-hitting” Trading Standards sting

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #189502 Reply
    prof h
    Guest

    what is bigger Major or full, in my humble opinion the sites offering fixed price work, we fix any car, who can fix my car and so on, offer 3 service choices
    small
    full
    major

    there is no such thing anymore , cars are serviced according to manufacturers guidelines and are quoted in the same way

    #189503 Reply
    Andy
    Guest

    Firstly, what sort of FULL service can you offer for £130. Even a minor / oil change service has got to be in that ball park for the smallest of cars once you’ve factored in wages, training, tooling, operational costs such as lighting, heating, waste disposal etc. People who “give” away our services are undermining this industry. And as prof H says what is the difference between MAJOR and FULL. Secondly, I can’t believe trading standards are operating a sting without previous cause for concern. either deliberately misleading or just not doing what’s been charged for. It’s nothing to do with quality control, just good honest business. Grrrrr I need to go and lie down in a dark room.

    #189504 Reply
    Peter Miles
    Guest

    What we can’t tell from this article is what was actually on the car at it’s age/mileage. Where things like the fuel filter, timing belt (if fitted) and plugs due to be replaced or not? Was any previous service history available (that’s always the first thing I ask for from a new customer)?
    But I do think the whole fixed price for a particular “style” of service is crazy. My customers get what is DUE on that service along, obviously, with any extra work found to be needed like pads, discs or suspension parts for instance.
    And I totally agree with prof h above.

    #189514 Reply
    nick seabrook
    Guest

    When quoting for a “full service” I often hear the gasps from the enquirer, usually because they have been told they can get a “full service” else where often for as little as £90.00.
    I’m sure we’ve all seen the service check sheets used by garages (if their even using one) quoting these sort of prices (check air filter,check pollen filter, check spark plugs etc). Full service eh? This is misleading and is why the customers bill often ends up being way over what the price quoted, this is one reason where customer confidence is often lost and mistrust in our trade is fuelled.

    #189535 Reply
    Eddie Bamber
    Guest

    Many years ago when I worked at a dealer, we would service a car at 6,000 miles. We would clean the spark plugs, blow out the air filter and check all the levels etc. At 12,000 miles we would replace all those components as well as change the oil and filter. What’s the difference between a ‘full’ and ‘major’ service ?. To me, they’re both the same. I would prefer ‘intermediate’ and ‘full’ or ‘major’. Even then I would have a menu board of what was included with each. The customer needs to be clear in his own mind what he is getting for his money.

    #189580 Reply
    Gary
    Guest

    we used to do a small service (oil and filter and check over) full service (same but change all filters) and major would include brake fluid, gearbox/diff fluid change etc. Nowadays service intervals are totally different so I just go by what is due on the mileage and what the manufacturer says should be done taking previous history into account of course.

    #189584 Reply
    anthony w edwards
    Guest

    An oil change and a check over is not a full or major service. It is a minor or interim service.

    #189632 Reply
    Alan Barton
    Guest

    What the garage has explained as a full service is what we do on interim service and we call a major service a full service and it is all the filters & fluids wheels off brake inspection & full mechanical inspection. I have never heard an interim service described as a full service anywhere here and abroad where I have worked. I would say trading standards are right in this case.

    #189630 Reply
    Mike
    Guest

    When these cases crop up, however large or small, even just a customer suing a garage or a garage suing a customer for non payment caused by some argument over the bill or whatever, largely the court ( district judge ) comes down on the side of the customer. Largely this is because, IMO, he, the district judge , knows nothing about the subject, the ins and outs of the job / repair etc…only what he’s been told by usually a very over-egged case put forward by the customer. Let’s face it, how many district judges knows the ins and outs of car repair etc…but he does know about about being a customer /consumer.. like millions of general people.
    You have to have a rock solid case to win over ‘poor’ customers / consumers these days who expect everything for next to, or even, nothing !

    #190280 Reply
    Brad
    Guest

    What sort of full service does not include things like air, pollen or fuel filters?

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)

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