Smart Car not smart enough for this Cow! Gaining redress for faulty new car)

Mooooooooving on

Last year this mob annoyed me. Why? Because they annoyed my mother. You know how it is, it’s bad enough when someone annoys you but when they start on your family, well that’s it isn’t it really? So, after listening to my mother moan about it for ten minutes (so therefore two minutes too long, you know how it is) I told her to give me the details in an email and I would deal with it. I knew this was going to be a hard one. Cars are a difficult one, it’s very hard to prove faults and well, it’s hard! But I’m The Complaining Cow, so I complained.

Earlier that year she had bought a Smart car. A couple of months later my brother noticed that the front near side tyre was flat. (The car hadn’t been driven for a while because my father had been seriously ill). She therefore called Smart Assistance who sent someone out for recovery. A garage repaired what appeared to have been a slow puncture. The repair had cost £12.00.

A couple of months later my mother went to drive the car and the battery (original battery) was flat. Again, she telephoned Smart Assistance. The battery was put on charge and she was told that everything was fine and to leave the engine running for 20 minutes. She then went out in the car to a local garden centre. She went back to her parked car after three quarters of an hour to find the battery flat. She ‘phoned Smart Assistance once again who again sent out a recovery vehicle. The man said luckily he had a smart battery that was suitable in the van. So he replaced the battery and charged her £53.00. (I know, disgraceful huh?) She then telephoned Mercedes Taunton and explained what had happened and asked if it was under the warranty I don’t much care much for warranties. I prefer the Law. My mother was entitled to a full refund as the car was sold as satisfactory and in good running order. It was not. I believed that Mercedes was therefore in breach of the Sale of Goods Act 1994 again so a full refund is what she would get! Now you would need to quote The Consumer Rights Act 2015 for purchases made prior to 01 October 2015.

Later they phoned back to say that Head Office, as a goodwill gesture would give her back half of the amount, they refunded £26.50.

Since then the car had been running well until a month later. My mother drove the car 6 days previously, but then the battery was flat. She ‘phoned Smart Assistance yet again. (Oh poo, only just realised that I should have been claiming for ‘phone calls!) He found the battery to be faulty. He tested everything including the alternator etc. He said she would have to take the car back to Exeter which was ridiculous. (It’s about an hour away from Taunton). He then drove her to Mercedes Taunton after charging the battery. She spoke to someone and they said they’d call the following day. They didn’t and she had to ‘phone them. I know, dreadful! Anyway, she was told that there had been a problem and that the battery was not only faulty but their suppliers had sent a wrong battery to replace it, and could she should ‘phone the following day.

My mother was told that they hoped the right battery would be in by Monday 21st and that it would cost her £147.00 and she could come and pick the car up.No smart customer service at Smart car!

It was at this point I stuck my hooves in….

So I complained. A lot. I didn’t want her to:

  1. have to go and get the car,
  2. pay for the puncture repair,
  3. pay for the faulty battery,

pay for the new battery and I wanted her to be refunded fully for the first one, oh and something for the inconvenience of course!

We wanted to return the vehicle for a full refund. I knew this was never going to happen, but here’s a tip, always always go for more than you want. That way they can come down thinking they have won something and you get what you want!

The Manager offered to return the car when the battery was done at just the cost she had had refunded! i.e. she would still have to pay the full cost of the battery! So she would, in effect have a new battery which I didn’t think she should have needed and be out of pocket by £53.00. I thought this wasn’t good enough personally.

So, off went an email to the MD pointing out a few legal facts, quotes from their publicity and the like. Few more emails backwards and forwards. He seemed to think that we had no grounds for returning the car and couldn’t prove anything regarding the car being faulty at time of purchase. However, I am pleased to say that my powers of persuasion convinced him to pay:

£12 puncture repair refund
£53.00 battery refund
£100 goodwill gesture (I do so love these goodwill gestures)
(She had the £26.50 on top of this already paid by the other people!)

Evaluation

It took a while but I refuse to accept the first response if I don’t like it! I was particularly pleased that garages in Taunton were impressed saying that Mercedez are notoriously bad with their customer service!

Customer Service 4 out of 10
MD 7 out of 10
Prize £191.50 plus a battery

Rating – Churned out ok eventually

If you find yourself in a similar situation and need some help. See Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively 
Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

For masses of information, consumer rights, tips and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

 

To complain or not complain

Do you complain or not complain?

Which complaining herd are you in?

Complaining effectively and not just for complaining’s sake all started here for me. Then some months ago, whilst successfully task avoiding and hunting through threads on LinkedIn, I came across Steve Clarke’s thread.  He challenged people not to complain for 7 days.

You can see where he is coming from. Not focusing on rubbish instead of the job in hand, positive thinking and all that. Of course there were the sheep who followed Steve and did all that “cow” towing about how it completely changed their lives! But being the argumentative soul that I am, I waded in with the fact that sometimes complaining is necessary. You gain redress, bring about change and can bring in funds!

Moaning and complaining -- the difference

John Towers posted this: “Would it be valid to draw a distinction between moaning and complaining? I would suggest that a complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction which the person voicing it would expect to result in some sort of positive remedial action (probably by somebody else!), whereas a moan is a negative and apathetic response by someone who is not prepared to take responsibility for a situation”

Now that is probably a more eloquent way of explaining the difference between moaning and complaining than mine in the “About” page! We also agreed that where services for vulnerable people are concerned complaining is not only good it is essential! We work in businesses where we have to be ready to make and deal objectively and fairly with complaints, not least because it is stipulated in relevant regulations. That in turn makes improvements in services, why wouldn’t you want to have that approach and make a difference in any other kind of service?

Art to effective complaining

Steve did concede though that “Yes there’s an art to effective complaining – where you see a positive outcome”. Hey I’m an artist! He also wrote how he didn’t complain when an organisation contacted him while he was on holiday when it was clearly at fault. Steve was satisfied with not complaining and just confusing them. Me, I would complain and gain redress from them for inconveniencing me with their errors!

Steve and I were possibly arguing semantics at times, but in essence you are looking at not complaining and just getting on with the task in hand or complaining effectively and getting a positive result. To be fair they probably both have their place, but I’m a Change Manager, I want to affect change, have fun and if I gain redress for others and myself where applicable all the better. I had to stop arguing with Steve on Facebook and LinkedIn when I found out that he was using my posts in a seminar as how he got someone using one social network to engage on another. Someone called me a stalker because of the length of my post! NO! It was a long post because I used lots of evidence to back up my argument! Interestingly Steve did not engage in the debate. Perhaps more sensible than engaging in debate with me maybe or not practising what he preaches…?!

Is good enough good enough?

I disagreed with Steve’s “Good enough is good enough” stance arguing that “Good enough is not good enough” (Steve Jobs’ legacy!)  I also disagreed with him when he said that an email sent with grammatical errors didn’t matter. So I do hope that this Blog is good enough and there aren’t any errors!!! (Typos are different to grammatical errors remember!)

The 7 Day Challenge thread was probably one of the main inspirations for writing a Blog! (Cheers Steve!) Firstly there was no way I was rising to the challenge! Secondly, because I’ll use any tool available to me to prove my point, I decided to use a Blog!

Do share -- which herd are you in?

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow BBC Breakfast TV Discusses How We Complain in the UK

laptop on someone's lap phone in one hand