Cars and garages

How not to get fobbed off by a garage (and what to do if you have been!)

Protecting yourself when using a garage

How not to get fobbed off by a garage


1) Agree a price for the work with the garage ideally in writing so it can be used later if there is a problem. This should be a quote not an estimate

2) Ask exactly what work will be covered including service and any parts and get this in writing

3) Ensure that the garage knows to contact you if it feels that additional work needs to be done and this should also be in writing. You could agree an amount for small matters without having to call but I prefer the everything agreed in writing approach! Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively

4) If it is too late and you haven’t done this then s/he should get two estimates from other garages as evidence and start the process below. If forced to pay then you should state in writing “payment under protest”

What to do if things do go wrong when you use a garage:

1) The Consumer Rights Act 2015 from October 1st last year covers vehicle repairs and servicing. So if the consumer believes that the service has not been undertaken with reasonable skill and care or has taken an unreasonable length of time (or longer than the agreed time) the consumer can request a refund/part refund or insist that the job is undertaken properly.

2) If the vehicle doesn’t work as it should after a repair some days after and this is due to poor work that the consumer can also claim.

3) If the garage refuses to provide redress by either giving a refund or redoing the job the consumer can go to arbitration through the trade association if the garage is a member.

4) You are also entitled to out of pocket expenses if you have had to use different transport whilst the job is redone but you must keep this to a minimum.

5) If your vehicle gets damaged at the garage the garage is responsible. The garage must pay to put things right under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 from the 1st October unless it can prove that it was not responsible. If the garage says it is not responsible for vehicles left in its possession it is in breach of the Protection from Unfair Contract Terms  Regulations 2008.

6) You can also write to the CEO of the garage/chain by getting the contact details from

7) Be polite, assertive and quote your legal rights. Complain in writing wherever possible as this is clear evidence in court should you need it. Give a time for when a response is expected and what will happen if a satisfactory response is not received (e.g. contact Trading Standards, the Trading Association, go through the Small Claims Court etc.)

8) If all that fails you can go to the Small Claims Court.

Research the garage before using

The Motor Ombudsman is the self-regulatory body for the motor industry. Its voluntary membership of thousands of garages is committed to maintaining high standards covering new cars, the administration of new car warranties and car service and repair. Search their database for members who sign up to a code of practice and if things do go wrong will partake in alternative dispute resolution.

How to be smart when using a garage

Help for buying a car

Car buyers alert: how not to get fobbed off

Everything you need to know about financing your car purchase

Further help in complaining about goods and purchases

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

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Latest News Topical Uncategorized

BA flies in the face of consumer law and decency

Customers who bought tickets for the economy cabin on short-haul and domestic flights from Heathrow and Gatwick flying from January 11, 2017, and from London City and London Stansted by summer 2017 are being stung and will find that food and drinks are no longer free! Has it become a no frills airline? On the 29th September this year BA announced to great fanfare that it had partnered with Marks and Spencer. The new British Airways menu, which will replace the airline’s current complimentary snacks, includes items from the M&S Food on the Move selection. Well that’s nice isn’t it? Well maybe spending a few quid might be better than the free alcoholic drink and a few free nibbles in the future but what about those people who bought their tickets before the 29th September? They lose out, that’s what.

You may think that customers only lost the cost of a drink and a few nuts. But stop, don’t flee yet. How many tickets do you think were purchased before the 29th September this year for flights after the 11th January 2017? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Ok, so just how much have they actually saved? That’s the principle after all. Couple of pounds on every flight, you do the math, it’s thousands and thousands of pounds right?

“Oh” I hear you cry “But BA will refund the cost of the “free” drink and nibbles so they won’t make that money”. Really? It wouldn’t appear so. Those people who have already booked flights received an email starting with “Thank you for booking your flight with British Airways. We’re writing to let you know about some key changes that are taking place to our on-board catering.” The press release followed. There is no mention at all of compensation, partial refund or how to make a complaint. They may not refuse any calls of this nature but why the lack of transparency or assistance for customers. There’s nothing on their website either!

I asked the BA Press Office for a response and so far have not received one. I tweeted BA and they said all flights after 11th Jan will have new catering menu. “Breach of contract” says I and here is their stance on that:


@ComplainingCow Hi Helen, sorry for the delay in replying. We’ve given our customers a four month notice period of the changes… most short-haul customers do not book this far in advance, but any customers who hold bookings from January 11th 2/3… and are unhappy are welcome to contact us to discuss their booking.

So, there you go. BA will discuss your bookings but will not actively point out that they have broken the terms and conditions of contracts.

Right, well that’s it. It’s the principle of the thing. It doesn’t matter if you think it is only a few quid or you are just a bit miffed or even if you don’t care. BA appears to be making money from this. Instead of doing it properly and offering vouchers/AVIOS points or partial refunds to affected customers it would appear that it has simply informed them that the terms and conditions have changed and hoped that the majority of people won’t bother complaining. They would not be out of pocket and the PR would have been much better showing them to be doing the “right thing”.

So, we can’t catch all the customers affected and of those we catch we can’t get them all to complain. But we can have a damn good try at knocking the BA profits and making sure customers actually get what is legally due. How? Like this:

  • Email the CEO. You can find his address at
  • Provide details of when you bought the tickets and the booking reference numbers
  • Tell him that BA is in breach of contract for breaking the terms and conditions of the contract you have.
  • Say that you are aware that the breach falls under The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, Regulation EC 1008/2008 – Article 23 Transparent pricing, Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and Consumer Rights Act 2015 (including Part 2 Unfair Terms).
  • State that you are entitled to a full refund on the ticket or you will accept a partial refund for the value of the “free” drink and food that formed part of the contract. (Both ways!)
  • Inform him that should you not receive a satisfactory response you will not hesitate in taking the matter further such as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme.
  • Optional – say that you are disgusted with the way BA has handled this matter and will be spreading awareness of people’s legal rights via social media. (And then of course do so, the more people we empower to fight for their rights the better so do your bit!)

Don’t be fobbed off by any  requests to call an 0844 number either as these are no longer permitted for after-sales enquiries and issues, Regulation 41 of  aforementioned Consumer Contracts (Information Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Refuse to ‘phone anyway because you want your answer in writing should you need the evidence! A call won’t give you that. Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively.

If you bought your ticket(s) through a travel agent you will need to contact them as if you paid the travel agent directly the contract is with them.

Beat BA at their own game and don’t let these big businesses get away with it. Call them out on it and ensure you get your legal redress whilst you are about it.

If you want to do more about asserting your legal rights and need some help. See the Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively and the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results packed full of information, guidance, advice, consumer law and template letters.