The consumer’s issue:
“I want to complain about being overcharged by the dealership for repairs conducted without my authorisation. I took my car to them for a regular service and MOT. I was told that I needed to agree to over £2,000 worth of repairs in order to comply with MOT requirements. In addition, the business would not release my vehicle unless I agreed to the work. I then went into the dealership to question the invoice and the replacement of two headlights, which were not needed. At no point was I asked for, or given an option, to accept or decline the repairs. Eventually, the invoice was reduced to around £1,000. I believe a price of £500 is a fair amount to pay for the service, so I’m looking for a refund of £500.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The customer booked in the vehicle for a service and MOT at our dealership.
- The car failed the MOT on a number of items, including a headlamp and tyre. Therefore, we sent the customer an estimate for the necessary repair works required to pass the MOT, plus a quote for other repairs noticed during a free Vehicle Health Check (VHC).
- The customer wrongly assumed that the document was an invoice, even though it clearly stated otherwise.
- It contained the price for two headlamps because we were unsure which headlamp the car would need. We informed the customer that they would only need to replace one headlamp, but they still assumed that we were telling them that a repair was needed to both headlamps.
- The customer eventually came to the dealership were they were informed about what repairs were required in order to pass the MOT, as well as those which were not needed for the MOT.
- The customer authorised the repairs as detailed in the repair invoice submitted.
- Whilst we accept that there may have been some breakdown in communication, the vehicle owner was provided with an opportunity to accept or decline the repairs. Plus, they were only invoiced for the work, which they authorised.
The adjudication outcome:
- The adjudicator found that the alleged £2,000 invoice provided to the customer clearly stated that it was a mechanical report, not an invoice or an estimate.
- Additionally, the evidence did not demonstrate that the business declined to release the car until the customer paid for the repairs.
- The car failed the MOT because of two faulty parts, but the business informed the customer that they required urgent repairs on six parts.
- The adjudicator concluded that, if the average customer was told that their car had failed an MOT and required urgent repairs on six parts, then they would likely believe that the six faulty parts are the reason for the failed MOT, unless they had been informed otherwise.
- The actions of the business were therefore deemed to be misleading or be misunderstood. This is because they had failed to adequately inform the customer that they were not required to repair all six parts in order for the car to pass the MOT.
- However, since the business had taken the necessary action before starting the repairs, they were not required to refund £500 to the customer because their actions did not cause them to suffer a financial loss. Therefore, the consumer’s claim was not upheld by The Motor Ombudsman.
- The customer and accredited business accepted the outcome as recommended by The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator and the case was closed.