Where you stand when customers expect repair to fix entire problem first time

Trade body member gets advice after customer called on garage to fit calipers for free because fault wasn't fixed

Where you stand when customers expect repair to fix entire problem first time
Image: Bigstock.

The Independent Garage Association offers advice for garage owners about dealing with customer expectations.

IGA member asks…

“I have recently replaced a vehicles brake discs as part of a service, but the customer is still having problems braking and it now needs new calipers.

“The customer is telling me that I must do it for free as I did not repair his vehicle?”

IGA response…

It is not uncommon that consumers will expect a repair to fix the entire problem, and generally speaking they are likely to be right.

As always though reality is a bit more complicated.

The first thing we need to consider is why the additional work is required and what you were asked to do.

If the work is required because you have fitted the brake discs incorrectly then you will be liable for the repair work that flows from what you have done wrong.

If the customer asked you to replace his brake discs, then provided you have done the work correctly and with a reasonable level of care and skill you are not in breach of the contract.

You did not diagnose the work required or recommend the work and as such there is no liability to do any work at all, even if the brake callipers do need replacing.

It gets more difficult where you have been asked to diagnose the fault; or where the issue is obviously not the brake discs and you did not draw this to the consumer’s attention.

In addition to doing the work as agreed and with a reasonable level of care and skill, you also have a duty to diagnose any faults with a reasonable level of care and skill.

This does not mean you must be right first time every time.

Where a repair or diagnosis would follow a logical and reasonable step then the fact that you have followed that process and the issues is more complicated is not a breach of contract.

Taking the above example.

The brakes may be fading for many reasons.

If there is no evidence of a faulty calliper, the brake pads were still serviceable, and the discs appeared pitted and worn then a reasonable mechanic would not incur the significant cost of replacing callipers.

Where it then turns out that the callipers were the cause of the fault, or even part of the cause then whilst more work is required this is not because of any wrongdoing on your part.

General advice

Repairing and diagnosing a vehicle is one of the riskier activities a garage can undertake.

However, provided you accurately inform and advise your client, and keep a record of the same.

You should be able to deal with most complaints.

As always, this advice is general in nature and will need to be tailored to any one particular situation.

RMI members have access to the RMI legal advice line, as well as a number of industry experts for assistance.One member recently contacted the IGA requesting expert advice.

For further information about the IGA, click ‘more details’ below.

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