BBC show claims 'shocking' tactics from Kwik Fit mechanics

Kwik Fit

The BBC 1 show, Your Money, Their Tricks, carried out an undercover test of Kwik Fit mechanics for a programme broadcast tonight. They had ten cars assessed by two independent experts, and then sent the vehicles into branches across the UK for a free check on brakes and tyres. It said that in four of the ten cases, mechanics tried to press the drivers into getting unnecessary work done.

So what's going on, and how can you protect yourself?

The report

The show says that in all, the mechanics tried to push customers to have £700 worth of work on their cars. It claims that the work was ether unnecessary or not as urgent as the mechanics were making out.

The show also claimed that the mechanics did not carry out the full checks on seven of the cars. They failed to spot under-inflated tyres, and in one instance they missed a nail in a tyre.

Reporter Rebecca Wilcox said: "I was shocked by what we uncovered and disappointed that we found such a large well known company on occasions exaggerating the urgency and quoting for unnecessary work and not carrying out all the checks they promised and as a car owner and car lover this story was very close to my heart."

She added: "Working with our expert John was definitely an eye opener I wish I could have him with me whenever I need to put my car in the garage. I consider myself to be a minor petrol head and was very surprised by how easy it can be to be misled"

See if you can drive down the cost of your car insurance


Kwik Fit has disagreed with the allegations, it said in a statement: "From the limited information the BBC has provided in advance of its broadcast we, and an independent expert, seriously disagree with most of its findings." It also said that as a result of its response to the BBC, the programme has: "accepted that a number of its conclusions were wrong".

It added that: "We stand by the majority of the recommendations we gave, and completely reject the way the BBC has calculated the cost of work it has deemed 'unnecessary' by not considering how worn these parts were."

And it has offered to have one of the cars independently tested to assess the quality of the recommendations.

However, it admitted that: "In a few cases we fully accept that our staff could have been clearer with their communication; for this we apologise and are intent on improving how we communicate our advice to customers."

It said that recommendations for replacement parts reflect manufacturers' recommendations and advice and information from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, saying: "The wear of items such as tyres and brake pads is not an exact science, but we believe ours is a professional and responsible approach which focuses first and foremost on the safety of our four and a half million customers."

And it added: "We have zero tolerance of staff recommending unnecessary work and any proven cases result in disciplinary action. We have a whistleblower line on which staff can anonymously report any aspect of malpractice from their colleagues and a senior management team will investigate and act on any reports."

It also emphasised that the company has a customer satisfaction level of 98%.

The BBC spokesperson told AOL: "We stand by the programme."

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BBC show claims 'shocking' tactics from Kwik Fit mechanics
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Protect yourself
In this particular instance, there are clearly very different expert views as to what work was required. But while we make no comments about this particular chain, clearly there are other garages out there which do recommend unnecessary work, or charge for work that hasn't been done.

According to Citizens Advice, in the last year there were 11,437 complaints about repairs at independent garages - making it the third most common source of complaints.

It's worth taking a few steps to protect yourself. Take the time to find a reputable garage. Word of mouth can be very valuable, but it's also worth checking they are members of a recognised trade association that follows a code of conduct. If your local Trading Standards service offers a 'good trader' scheme, check if they list any local garages.

If the garage presses you to get more work done, you don't have to do it there and then, so you can take the car for a second opinion, and you can call around local garages to see what they would charge for the work.

It's also worth agreeing a cost before the work is done, and establishing whether this is a fixed price or an estimate. It's worth getting this in writing. If you haven't done this you have the right under consumer law to be charged a fair price, so check with other local garages what they would have charged.

One key point that often causes problems is a lack of clarity over whether you asked the garage to do whatever was necessary to solve a problem, or whether you asked for specific work to be done. If you are not specific, they are within their rights to go over an estimate in order to solve the problem - as long as they charge a fair price. If you asked for a specific job to be done, you can insist on only paying for the work you agreed. If you want to follow this approach, you need to ask for the specific work in writing if you intend to rely on this in any dispute.

Disputing a bill starts in person at the garage. If you cannot reach agreement, then find out if the garage is a member of a trade association that offers a conciliation service. You can also contact Trading Standards, and if all else fails you may end up needing the services of the small claims court.

Cars that will hold their value in 2013
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BBC show claims 'shocking' tactics from Kwik Fit mechanics

The Porsche Cayenne caused a bit of a stir when it launched in 2002 as the luxury SUV signalled a fresh direction for the traditionally sporty brand.

The second generation 2010 diesel model has been found to retain a whopping 84.2% of its original value even after three years and 30,000 miles on the clock.

A new Cayenne diesel starts from an eye-watering £47,390, but based on CAP's calculations after three years the resale value is only likely to fall 15.8%– a loss of £7,488.

Next up is a more mainstream option if you want to battle depreciation.

The Toyota Land Cruiser V8 diesel SW is the second best vehicle to retain its value over a three-year stretch clocking up 30,000 miles.

CAP Automotive found that this 4x4 retained 72.4% of its original price on average.

So a new 2010 V8 diesel available from £32,145, would only drop in value by 27.6% leaving it worth around £23,273 today – a cash loss of £8,872.

The Porsche 911 has been around for over 50 years and still remains an iconic sports car as well as a great depreciation buster. The GT Coupé body style was found to retain 72.1% of its value over three years and 30,000 miles.

So a 2011 model that would have set you back a whopping £73,123 might only fall in value by 27.9% -a loss of £20,401, by 2014.

This environmentally friendly 4x4 got a reboot in 2010 and the second generation model is still popular today.

CAP Automotive found that this particular model retained 70.3% of its original value on average.
Prices start from £28,965 and if the research stands up you should only lose 29.7% or £8,603 of the value after three years and 30,000 miles.

This compact 4x4 is a family friendly crossover that has a very adaptable interior- with the ability to remove the back seats fully.

According to CAP's research the Yeti retains 69.9% of its value over three years and 30,000 miles.

New it is the most affordable of the top ten with a starting price of £15,235 and after three years on the clock it is likely to only fall in value by 30.1%, which amounts to £4,585.

Despite its reliability track record, Land Rovers remain appealing to car buyers for its off-road ability, comfort and style.

The second generation of Land Rover's Discovery 4 can keep you in the money according to CAP's research. The make and model was found to retain 69.2% of its original value.

Prices start from £32,695 so after three years with 30,000 miles built up you might find the vehicle experiences a 30.8% drop at resale, leaving you £10,000 out of pocket.

The sporty medium-sized SUV can run circles round its load-lugging rivals and was found to hold onto 69.1% of its original value by CAP Automotive.

New the 2008-2012 range was available from £26,600, so with an average fall of 30.9% found for models with three years on the clock, buyers can expect to lose just over £8,000.

The Kia Sportage holds onto its original value well too, retaining 68.2% on average.

It's another affordable crossover with the looks of a 4x4 but less off-road ability.

The improved 2010 Sportage is available from £17,495 so a fall of 31.8% would leave you £5,560 out of pocket after three years at the time of resale.

The Mercedes-Benz Viano is the only MPV to make the list.

New the 2004-2010 Viano's were available from £35,760, but after three years and 30,000 miles the value of this range tends to drop by 33.8% - a loss of over £12,000.

Even though it's quite obscure and was only available in limited numbers with left-hand drive, the Corvette Z06 Coupé was found to retain 65.5% of its list price after three years on the road.

Available new it would have cost from £45,850 so after three years owners are likely to experience a 34.5% drop where around £15,818 would be wiped off the value.


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