I’m pre-publishing parts of my latest Ebook, entitled ‘How one blog post is costing Kwik Fit 100 customers per day’ across the blog here, so readers can get an early peek at it and benefit from the lessons we’ve discovered about social media engagement and online reputation management – courtesy of an ongoing strategy of silence from the appalling corporate Kwik Fit.
These three blog posts will contain the basic text, but not the full graphic and diagrams in the Ebook. However, the content from the Chapters highlighted on the blog should still prove useful. There are three pre-publication blogs posts – here’s the first.
Chapter One: How a blog post came to cost Kwik Fit 100 customers per day
I first came into contact with Kwik Fit as a customer on 03 October 2009, when visiting the Whiteladies Road, Bristol branch. The emergency brake lights were flashing on my Mini Cooper S, combined with a squealing, grinding noise on the rear brakes. Urgent mechanical attention was obviously needed.
The rear brake pad and disc repairs cost just shy of £250. The branch manager also attempted to sell me two front tyres at £325, even though the tyres were well within the legal limit, as well as a new caliper, which would be in the region of up to an additional £350.
I left the branch with the brake warning light still on, and the brakes sticky.
The branch manager, Robert Sandow, (an ex-McDonalds manager who was promptly moved to another Bristol Kwik Fit branch when his errors, lies and mis-selling became evident to higher Management after my first complaint) informed me this was perfectly normal, and that the warning light on the Mini Cooper S’s electronic system would “automatically reset after 50 miles” whilst the new pads “would also bed in” which I later found out was complete nonsense. I believed him.
The brake warning light stayed on, I discovered a few days later when I had the work inspected independently, because one of the rear brake pads had been fitted without a pad. Metal was hitting metal. The car was a death trap.
After further complications, mis-selling, lies and excuses in-branch from Mr Sandow, I had the independent examination completed and made a formal complaint. I was given a face-to-face meeting with Kwik Fit regional manager Dave Rees in Bristol.
He was accusatory, a poor listener, and refused to give his consent for me to record the meeting on my Dictaphone. I was not impressed.
Following this perfunctory meeting, I chased for feedback – after Mr Rees did not come back to me on the agreed deadline with feedback and a proposal of solutions to my poor treatment and life-threatening service from Kwik Fit.
What I did get was a letter from Kwik Fit Head Office stating that after a thorough internal investigation, they found no evidence of wrong-doing, that compensation of any kind would not be offered, and that the matter was closed.
I was, understandably, not impressed with Kwik Fit’s idea of customer satisfaction.
I published the complaint email sent to Kwik Fit’s Managing Director in full on my blog, to highlight my case and demonstrate that the matter was far from closed. This blog post continues to attract 100 hits per day. You can read it here.
Obviously, to receive such a dismissive response from Kwik Fit did not sit well, and highlighting the issues publicly on my blog seemed the only option.
After highlighting the story to regional Press, I learnt from an inside source on one newspaper that Kwik Fit’s corporate PR team had attempted to discredit the issues and story, rather than genuinely engage with them and resolve it.
I also learnt that Kwik Fit management had put a firm lockdown on the case, with an internal investigation by senior management leading to radical measures being taken, such as mechanics being told to watch out for ‘difficult’ customers in-branch. Again, no actual resolution of life-threatening treatment.
This was the start of Kwik Fit’s strategy of silence – more to follow on that in Chapter Three.
Around this time, I also contacted Guardian Money and BBC Watchdog, with spectacular results in the Watchdog example. Again, more to follow on this.
I promoted the ‘How Kwik Fit risked my life to make a sale’ blogpost across social media platforms, including setting up an anti-fan page on Facebook entitled ‘Kwik Fit – the worst corporate reputation in the UK?’ which provided an excellent sounding board for other for other disgruntled ex-Kwik Fit customers. Comments which were all being retained on Google searches.
By now, the blog post itself was also attracting attention and more comments, forming a damning thread of evidence concerning Kwik Fit’s treatment of unhappy customers across the UK.
Internal customers, including ex-Kwik Fit managers and mechanics, were now coming to the blog to post their comments and experiences of working within the corporate. Evidence was stacking up across a number of online platforms.
Evidence which had massive implications online for Kwik Fit, as the next chapter highlights – read this on Wednesday.