Shoddy car service results in £28,000 fine - The Leamington Observer

Shoddy car service results in £28,000 fine

Ian Hughes 20th Mar, 2019 Updated: 20th Mar, 2019   0

A SUB-STANDARD car service in Stratford has seen Halfords Autocentres Ltd fined £28,000.

Warwickshire County Council’s trading standards prosecuted the company following an undercover investigation.

The car service, carried out by Halfords Autocentre on Birmingham Road cost £210, but garage staff failed to rectify or report 11 separate faults on the Volkswagen Passat.

Faults overlooked included leaking front shock absorbers, a split drive shaft gaiter, an insecure battery and excessive play on the anti-roll bar.

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

The vehicle was also supposed to have been taken for a test drive, but the mileage indicator showed it had not been driven anywhere. 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.

Halfords was handed a £28,000 fine at Birmingham Magistrates Court and ordered to pay costs of £11,700 and a victim surcharge of £170. Halfords pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

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

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

Warwickshire community safety spokesman 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 that we can have confidence that our vehicles are properly maintained and consequently safe to drive.”

“I’m delighted that Warwickshire trading standards is carrying out this important work to protect road users.”

In a statement issued following the court case, Halfords Autocentres said an internal investigation had been launched after the incident in 2017 and had put “robust measures” in place to ensure no repeat.

A spokesman added: “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 trading standards regularly carries out undercover car servicing operations. An expert vehicle examiner places faults on cars before they are submitted for services at garages across the county. On completion, the vehicle expert then examines the vehicles to see if the garages have carried out the services to an acceptable standard.


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