Sharp practice – don’t get caught on the sharp end

In these troubled economic times people are on a quest to save money and, no doubt on the hunt for bargains. This means businesses are under even greater pressure to keep the customers coming through the doors. Special offers and promotions are everywhere and companies are finding new and innovative ways of communicating these offers to their prospective customers. However it’s inevitable that there will also be the less scrupulous businesses that will look to this crisis as an opportunity to exploit consumers need to cut costs and one of the ways they will do this is the in carrying out the “cheap service”.

Over many years in the motor trade things have been done to unsuspecting customers that have been at best misleading and at worst criminal. It is only natural when cars are not selling for dealers to look at other parts of their operation to pick up the financial slack, and with drivers more likely to keep their existing cars, rather than take on the cost of replacing them, repairers become more in demand. In realising this many garages will advertise special servicing offers, winter/spring checks or fixed cost maintenance plans which allow customers to spread the cost of maintaining their cars and these schemes, when carried out correctly, can be good for both customers and dealers. But scratch the surface and there are many more ‘special offers’ which are anything but. When advertising a special service for half the normal price this on the face of it sounds like the same service for less money, however the reality can often be a quick check over and an engine steam clean for twice what that service is worth. There will also be instances where service books will be stamped when most of the work which should have been included in that service was not actually carried out. So in reality all a customer is gaining is the real possibility of a huge invoice next time the service comes around.

It is all well and good garages and car dealers endeavouring to find and incentivise more customers but misleading and cheating them will not ensure long term success. A special offer should be just that, special and if a car owner takes advantage of that offer they should make sure they receive exactly what it says on the tin, i.e. if the service is in line with manufacturers servicing schedules but at half the price, that’s fine but if it is a stamp in the book and not the required practices to warrant that stamp then customers need to beware.

Always ask this question when taking up such offers;

“Is what I am paying for exactly what I am receiving?”

Reading this you may be left thinking that it’s stating the obvious and in some ways it is, but this sort of thing does happen and in the last week alone we have received several tip-off’s that these sharp practices are going on right now.

Desperate times bring out desperate measures (and people!)

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