Halfords Autocentres ordered to pay £40k following trading standards sting

Fast fit techs failed to rectify or report 11 separate faults on a Volkswagen Passat during undercover operation

Halfords Autocentres ordered to pay £40k following trading standards sting
Halfords Autocentre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Image: Google Street View.

Halfords Autocentres has been fined £28,000, ordered to pay costs of £11,700.97 and a victim surcharge of £170 after its Stratford-upon-Avon workshop was found to have carried out an unsatisfactory car service.

Warwickshire County Council’s trading standards successfully prosecuted the company following an undercover operation in which a car service was carried out at the fast fit for a cost of £210.

However, technicians failed to rectify or report 11 separate faults on the Volkswagen Passat, including: leaking front shock absorbers; a spilt drive shaft gaiter; an insecure battery and excessive play on the anti-roll bar.

Staff also failed to notice a split wiper blade, didn’t top up the brake fluid level from the minimum or increase the spare tyre pressure to the recommended level.

“Cut corners”

William Hibbert, representing Halfords stated that nationally, Halfords serviced 22,000 cars a month and relied upon their technicians and that sometimes they ‘cut corners.’

He said that the company accepted it could have done better and its systems failed, but in mitigation maintained that Halfords had cooperated with the investigation and took its legal responsibilities very seriously.

The vehicle was also supposed to have been taken for a test drive, however, the mileage indicator showed it hadn’t been driven.

The service was signed off by a quality controller at the branch, despite some faults not being spotted and others which had been spotted by the technician not being notified to the customer or rectified.

At Birmingham Magistrates Court on Friday 15th March 2019, Halfords was handed a £28,000 fine and ordered to pay costs of £11,700.97 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Guilty plea

The company had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

A Halfords Autocentres spokesman said: “We are deeply sorry that in this incident occurring over two years ago at our Stratford-upon-Avon branch, our usual high standards fell short.

“As soon as Trading Standards brought the case to our attention, we launched our own internal investigation and have put robust measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“We asked the Retail Motor Industry Federation to carry out an independent review of our quality control procedures and it found our policies were at a robust level when compared to the market.

“We have also put a third party mystery shopping service in place to help ensure quality.”

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump said: “Most of us are not vehicle experts and haven’t got the expertise to know if a car service has been carried out properly or not.

“We rely on garages to carry out services correctly so we can have confidence our vehicles are properly maintained and consequently safe to drive.”

Share your comments and experiences below.

Home Page Forums Halfords Autocentres ordered to pay £40k following trading standards sting


Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #173109 Reply
    Steph Savill

    Is this how long it takes? Two years for TSI to get into its legal stride?

    #173113 Reply
    Philip Dunmore

    Well said Steph.
    22,000 services a month at £210 = £4.62 million. Bet that fine really hurt!

    #173117 Reply
    Peter Miles

    Are any trade people reading this really surprised? I’m sure we’ve all got tales to tell about the fast fits although generally they’re about doing unecessary work rather than ignoring/not noticing work which should be done.

    #173118 Reply

    If you want your CAR serviced propaly don’t take it to pushbike mechanic.

    #173119 Reply
    Andy Horner

    I am an “Old School” motor engineer, Not surprised at all! Funny how it just happened when trading standards happen to visit. The other 22000 every month ? Well, what do we think ? (Also an ex Kwik Fit / ATS branch manager)

    #173830 Reply

    the pressure which is placed on staff to get the work done quickly is too much, they are constantly ovebooked. The technicians are afraid of losing there job if they don’t hit there ridiculous targets, which is why this goes on.

    #173837 Reply

    I took my car to a halfofds auto center 2 years ago and discovered several days later that the engine oil and engine coolant had not been topped back up above the minimum. Don’t use them !

    #174805 Reply

    It’s quite simple really, if you want a job done properly, don’t use them.

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)


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