Anyone who reads my blogs frequently will know that I hate bad customer service with a passion – I truly believe we should not put up with it.

However it then means that when I suffer bad customer service – and it’s put right that I should shout about it. If only to illustrate that making a disgruntled customer feel that they’ve been listened to, is so important. It’s even more important with the advent of social media and blogs. Hands up the company which doesn’t care if its reputation is being rubbished online by the drip-drip effect?

Here’s the story. Last week I went to have my car serviced at Fish Brothers Renault in Swindon. My car is four years old and I’ve always had it serviced there. I’ve been happy with the garage and have had no reason previously to complain. I’m not a car fanatic nor do I have more than a rudimentary knowledge of the knobs and whistles under a car bonnet. However, I’m not a complete idiot when it comes to cars. I drive thousands of miles a year and have been through many cars in my career.

Big bill for my car service....or was it?

After a few hours that dreaded call came – ‘Mrs Scott, this and that and the other needs to be done to your car, will you agree to the work? I said yes. Then ‘Mrs Scott, we think a shock absorber is wearing out, you’ll have to have it checked in a few months’ – okay. Then another call, ‘actually Mrs Scott we’ve now driven your car and the shock absorber will have to be replaced” okay. I asked for a total for the bill, working out quickly that with the service I was looking at around £400. Oh, the lady said it will be around £522.

Shock, horror! I went through the costs and found out that my annual service was almost £350. I was staggered. Not only had this not been mentioned to me but no actual service (even on BMWs I’ve owned) has ever cost me that much. I questioned this only to be told that I’d signed the job sheet  – where the cost was clearly stated (in very small print I later observed).

Sometimes there are things that should never be said to a customer- such as ‘you signed the job sheet’. I’m completely the wrong person to throw that claim at. I pointed out firmly that all service contracts should have main terms and conditions spelled out clearly, regardless of small print. Price is usually the number one term and condition.

One very unhappy bunny later has to pick up hire car as parts are not available until the next day. In that 24 hour period, I told several people in my immediate circle how unhappy I was with this level of service.  And I filled in an online feedback form, which I always do but which I seriously doubted would be read.


However, the next day, as I was collecting my expensively serviced car, the service manager asked to see me in his office. Girding my loins for another verbal battle, I mentally prepared. Only to find that the service manager completely agreed with me. He had read my feedback form, had looked at the paper trail relating to my booking and felt that I had been misled in that the cost had not been made clear to me and I’d been given no opportunity to negotiate or side-step certain aspects of the service which were not strictly necessary. To say sorry he did not charge me for some of the extra work on the car – which cancelled out the overcharge I felt had been made on my service.

In a nutshell, my concerns were heard, understood and acted upon – even if I was bit of a pain in the arse. He didn’t give excuses, he didn’t bleat or wring his hands. He said sorry.

So I am able to say today that Fish Brothers Renault of Swindon, has a service manager who understands how important good customer service is – and  I now feel that good service will be provided even when things don’t quite go according to plan.