The consumer’s issue:
“I took my car to the accredited business for repairs to the air conditioning system. My car was parked off site and some damage was caused to the roof, and there was a gap between the glass and the canvas. The accredited business agreed to fit a new roof, but did not complete the work to a satisfactory standard or within a reasonable timeframe. When I went to collect the vehicle, I found out that they had installed a non-branded roof, and that it didn’t fit properly. The gap in the roof hadn’t been covered, thereby causing rain and debris to get inside my car. I am therefore seeking a like-for-like, new branded roof, and for the internal damage to be repaired.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We do not consider ourselves to be liable for the problem with the roof, and believe that this issue was due to the seals perishing.
- However, as a gesture of goodwill, we agreed to fit a non-branded roof to the customer’s car.
- The work was carried out to a satisfactory standard, but we acknowledge that there were some delays with ordering the parts.
- The car was already dirty inside and this was not caused by the gap in the window.
- We often store cars off site in order to move them around our premises.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator partially upheld the complaint and said that the consumer and accredited business should split the cost of a new roof equally, and that the accredited business should pay for a valet of the car.
- The adjudicator did not think that the accredited business had caused the damage to the roof, and accepted it was due to perishing seals.
- However, she felt that the consumer should have been given a choice – to accept their goodwill repair of a non-branded roof or pay for the repairs elsewhere.
- With the dirt inside the car, it was clear that some of this was due to the gap not being properly covered so the accredited business should pay for the car to be cleaned inside.
- The consumer did not agree that she should have to pay for half of the bill of the brand new roof, as she thought the car may have been vandalised and that the accredited business’ work was poor, so she asked for the ombudsman to review the case for a final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman also accepted that the problem with the roof most likely happened whilst with the accredited business, but was not caused by them. The damage looked consistent with a failing seal, rather than vandalism or any other explanation.
- She did find that the length of time for the repair was unreasonable, but the consumer had been kept in a courtesy car, which had reduced the inconvenience to her.
- She could also see there had been some delays with the parts.
- In terms of the internal damage, the ombudsman agreed that the accredited business could have gone further in preventing some of it.
- However, she disagreed that giving the consumer 50% of the cost of replacing the roof was proportionate, although she agreed that the consumer should have been given the choice.
- The car was around 13 years old and was worth less than the value of the full repair, and not much more than 50% of it. The roof that came off it was not brand new, meaning a like-for-like replacement would have matched it in terms of age and mileage.
- As such, asking the accredited business to contribute to a brand new roof wasn’t fair in the circumstances, particularly as there was no evidence supporting there being poor workmanship.
- With all things considered, the accredited business should pay to valet the car, but either party contributing to fitting the car with a brand new roof seemed unreasonable based on the age of the car, its value, and that the existing roof was not brand new when it was removed.
- The accredited business was found to be in breach of the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair and was asked to pay for the valet of the vehicle.