It’s not often – if ever – that I use the blog to have a bash at Mr Corporate: I have no need to, and have worked with a number of outstanding corporates in the last 10+ years.
The story is concerning Kwik Fit. How they attempt to sell non-required expensive items to trusting customers. How they lie about the work they carry out on customers cars. How, in one case, they even left the car as a death trap and sent the customer on their way.
That unfortunate customer was me.
I’ve given Kwik Fit management the opportunity to address the issues – by email more than 10 days ago, and back in October and November, when the regional director went round all the Kwik Fit Bristol branches to strong-arm the managers regarding their service techniques. He even moved the manager of the branch where my car was turned into a death trap to another branch regionally.
Was I, the customer, contacted at any time then? No.
Have I been contacted regarding the email below? No.
Are Kwik Fit management so concerned about risking customers’ lives they will resolve the issues? No
Customer service which risks lives – it’s always going to be worth reporting. Whatever you do, please do NOT take your car to Kwik Fit for repairs. Unless you’re happy to spend excessive money, have your time wasted, and possibly your life put at risk.
Here’s the email sent 10 days ago, to the regional director and Kwik Fit MD Ian Fraser:
I write to you further to my experiences of Kwik Fit at your Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol branch – I have included the Kwik Fit Managing Director Mr Fraser, as well as the Guardian Money consumer letters editorial contact on this email, to ensure you actually respond externally to the issues. I suspect that much of this information will be news to Mr Fraser, given your previous conduct of sweeping the issues under the carpet and not contacting me, the customer, directly to apologise and resolve this.
As you are well aware, I visited the Whiteladies Road Kwik Fit branch in October 2009, with brake pads and discs needing replacing on the rear of my mini cooper S. This work was completed the same day for £249.64. Your branch manager Robert Sandow also tried to sell me new front tyres at £325, which were, I later discovered, not actually legally necessary at that time.
Having driven my car less than three miles, I was aware of the brake warning light still being illuminated on my dashboard, as well as the rear wheels still squeaking irrespective of braking or not. I returned to the branch, where Mr Sandow informed me the electronic system on the cooper S would reset within 50 miles and that the brake pads and discs were “settling in”. Mr Sandow also informed me that it could well be the caliper needing replacing, which would cost “up to £350” to replace. All nonsense.
At the time I was commuting to work some 150 miles North each day, and within a further 48 hours the issues had not been resolved. I contacted the Whiteladies Road garage, and was told to bring in the car for a further check.
I gave permission for the caliper part to be ordered, and was told it would be ready to be fitted on the Monday. I took time off work, losing two days’ consulting time (£600), as the caliper item which arrived 24 hours late into the Whiteladies Road was in fact the wrong size. I was told I would have to wait another 24 hours for the correct-sized caliper to be delivered to the branch – which resulted in another day off work on Tuesday.
In the interim period, I also had the work independently checked. I discovered that the brake pads had not been fitted correctly: in fact, one of the brake pads was metal only on one side, with no pad. Hitting metal-on-metal on each contact, which was of course incredibly dangerous. The fact that this work has been cleared and passed as road-worthy still makes me shudder.
Another interesting fact to come from that independent check was that the rear caliper was perfectly fine and did not need replacing. Furthermore, the brake warning light had remained on because the mechanic at Whiteladies Road had not re-connected it – a shoddy example of missing even the simplest details.
On insisting that the replacement brake pads were to be of genuine Mini/BMW quality, and not the lesser-quality pads and discs used from Unipart by Kwik Fit, Mr Sandow informed me via a telephone call he would “see what he could do, but fitting genuine parts was not usual Kwik Fit procedure” which gave me further cause for concern.
Eventually, genuine parts were fitted on the car, a number of weeks after the initial dangerous installation had been noted.
I had posted on my Bristol editor blog around my uncomfortable experiences with Kwik Fit and how dreadful and dangerous customer services were delivered. I am aware that you had read this blog post. I am aware that you subsequently visited all the Bristol branches at this time – October 2009 – and gave clear warnings to your branch managers that work was to be watched carefully, and I understand you were very concerned about the editorial contained in my blog at that time. So concerned, in fact, that at no point did you contact me, the customer.
The matter was brushed under the carpet. Mr Sandow, whom I understand previously worked as a Manager at McDonalds, was moved to another Kwik Fit branch in Filton, Bristol, however you did not contact me at any time leading up to the end of 2009 to ensure the matters were resolved to my complete satisfaction.
I had been hoping to hear from you, as I have been subjected to poor customer service, dangerous mechanical work on my car, no offer of recompense for working time lost, the insult of mis-diagnosis of the faults on my car, not to mention attempts to sell me items for my car which were not needed. You do not seem concerned that your staff had turned my car into a death trap, wasted my time and cost me money, as well as not addressing the issues directly with me, the customer, and offering an apology and some kind of recompense.
Although I have deleted the blog post from October, if I do not receive a satisfactory result from this email, I will re-post the updated experiences on my Bristol Editor blog, covering your lack of customer service after a Kwik Fit branch effectively turned my car into a death trap.
Just so you know, my Bristol Editor is read by approximately 300 people daily, and is featured three times per week on www.journalism.co.uk, the UK’s premiere journalism website, where a considerable number of national newspaper journalists and editors review the content for story leads and articles regularly.
I also have a Twitter feed with more than 1,100 followers – a mix of customers, journalists, editors, online reporters etc. I will have no hesitation in also posting this unresolved story there. As you will see, I have included the Guardian Money editorial contact in this email, so their consumer affairs contact can review the information and contact me directly should they feel the story is of interest. I hope to hear from you within the next 7 days, or unfortunately I will be forced to post the details online.
I will also consider posting my experience on Review sites such as:
Please reply in writing only, via this email address, as I am not prepared to engage in unrecorded telephone conversations. I am giving you the opportunity to resolve this with a written email proposing solutions. I hope that you take appropriate action this time, rather than attempting to keep it as an internal matter, and not contacting the customer directly with an offer of resolution.
Not even as much as an apology has thusfar been offered. I am, indeed, ‘amazed at what you do’.