Repairs estimate confusion

The consumer’s issue:

“I took my car to the dealership for an MOT and service, but was provided with a bill for £2,529.29. The previous garage I used did not charge more than £550, which included changing the tyres. When I queried the bill, I was told that all the work was necessary and that my vehicle would not be released unless all the work was done to comply with MOT requirements.

I then went in person to the dealership to question the invoice, and found two lots of headlights that were not needed. Eventually, the invoice was miraculously reduced to £1,072. I regard this as a deliberate attempt at price gauging, and I am seeking a full explanation for the dealership’s actions, as well as compensation. So far, the business has failed to respond to my complaint.”  

The accredited business’ response:

  • The customer booked in their car for an MOT and service. However, it failed its MOT because of a faulty headlamp and tyre.
  • We therefore sent the customer an estimate for the cost of the repairs. This included a few other items from the Vehicle Health Check which we had already completed.
  • However, the customer mistakenly assumed that the estimate was an invoice, although it clearly said at the bottom of the page that it was not an invoice.
  • In fact, there were two headlamps on the estimate because we were unsure which one the customer needed, and informed them that it would either be one or the other. Nevertheless, the vehicle owner assumed that we would be charging them for both.
  • The consumer eventually came to the dealership to discuss the invoice, and we explained which items were mandatory for passing the MOT and which were not. Following this, they authorised the required repairs.
  • Whilst there appears to have been a breakdown in communication, which we apologise for, the customer was invoiced for the works that they had previously agreed to. Therefore, we do not believe the customer is due any further financial compensation.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator found that the document was an estimate, indicating the price for future repairs, as stated at the bottom of the document.
  • However, the adjudicator also saw that the wording used on the document was likely to have been misunderstood. This is because it informed the customer that the car had failed an MOT and a number of items were in need of repair.
  • The paperwork equally failed to distinguish between advisories and mandatory items, which had to be repaired in order to pass the MOT.
  • The wording of the document therefore fell below the expected standard, and the business was found to be in breach of The Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair.
  • The adjudicator concluded that, since the actions of the dealership did not cause the customer to suffer financial loss, they did not make a financial award to the consumer. However, the business was directed to apologise to the customer for their actions.

Conclusion:

  • Neither party requested an appeal of the adjudication outcome that had been made, and the case was closed.