The consumer’s issue:
“I believe that the dealership caused damage to my vehicle when they were investigating a noise coming from the engine. They charged me money for the diagnosis, and when I went to collect the car, I noticed that the bonnet cable had snapped. The business refused to acknowledge that they had caused the damage, but they did say that they would fix it for free. However, I did not allow them to do the repairs, as I did not have time. I am therefore looking for an independent mechanic to inspect the vehicle, and for the dealership to refund the £350 cost of carrying out the work.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We originally agreed to look at the customer’s vehicle to investigate his concerns about the engine noise, and charged one hour of labour.
- We carried out various checks, which identified low compression on cylinder four.
- We advised the consumer that we would need to remove the cylinder head to establish what was causing the issue, but they declined.
- We therefore only charged the first hour of diagnosis, which we felt was fair reasonable, despite having carried out two hours of work.
- Whilst we accept that the bonnet cable snapped when the consumer came to collect the vehicle, this was not deliberate, and would have happened to whoever opened the bonnet, as the cable and bonnet release lever were in poor condition.
- We offered to investigate why the release cable had snapped, but the consumer declined. He therefore paid the diagnostics charge and collected the vehicle.
- The consumer then raised a complaint four months later and showed us the damaged cable and the air filter housing.
- We therefore went to see the car at the consumer’s home address the following day, and they showed us the damage to the bonnet cable and air filter housing, once again making accusations that our staff had sabotaged their vehicle.
- However, on inspection, it was apparent that the bonnet cable had been modified so that it would temporarily operate.
- Despite the consumer being unable to provide any plausible evidence to show that we had sabotaged the vehicle, we offered to replace the bonnet cable and lever at no charge as a gesture of goodwill.
- We also explained that the air filter housing was broken and did not happen whilst the vehicle was in our care, and equally pointed out that our technician had noted damage to it on the visual health check.
- From our perspective, we have fulfilled the contract by carrying out a diagnostic check on the engine and have provided the agreed service, which in our opinion was completed with due care and skill.
- The consumer claimed a refund of £350 from us, but they could not tell us how they had arrived at this figure.
The adjudication outcome:
- Having reviewed all the information provided, the adjudicator could not substantiate the consumer’s claim that the business had caused damage to the consumer’s vehicle.
- On the visual health check, which was carried out prior to any works taking place, the technician noted that the “air intake box had been excessively damaged and glued together”. Similarly, there was no evidence to show that it was in a good condition prior to the inspection of the vehicle.
- The business also stated that the bonnet release cable was in a poor condition before any work was carried out, but the adjudicator could not see that this was the case. Nevertheless, this did not mean that the business had caused the damage, either deliberately or accidentally.
- Whilst it is not apparent how the damage occurred, the business did offer to carry out the
- repair free of charge, and the adjudicator was satisfied that this was a fair and reasonable offer.
- The consumer requested £350 as a resolution to their complaint, but the adjudicator could not see how they arrived at this figure, or indeed, any evidence to show they incurred a financial loss as a result of the business’ actions.
- In conclusion, there was nothing to demonstrate that the business acted without reasonable skill or care, or purposely caused any damage to the consumer’s vehicle.
- Therefore, the adjudicator was unable to uphold the customer’s complaint, and was satisfied that the business had made a fair and reasonable offer to resolve their dispute.
- The customer and accredited business accepted the outcome as recommended by The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator, and the case was closed.