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Halfords Auto Centre

Devonian
Grafter
Posts: 1,854
Registered: 01-05-2011

Halfords Auto Centre

I had an MOT at the Halfords Garage in Torquay, and my car needed a steering rack, so I had it replaced.
12 months and 2 weeks later the steering rack failed, after just 3,200 miles.
Obviously it is acceptable to expect a steering rack to last many thousands of miles, 80,000+ in fact.
However, after 3,200 miles it failed.
The guarantee was 2 weeks out of date, but I didn't think that would be a problem, as I have been a customer of the Torquay branch for many years, spending thousands of Pounds there.
I took the car to them, and explained the issue to the manager, who then asked me to leave the car with them, and he would have it looked at.
A few hours later, I telephoned for an update.
The manager informed me that the Steering Rack had indeed failed internally, and needed replacing.
He said he had phoned around, and it would be a few days before he could get the parts in, but as the car was dangerous to drive, he suggested I leave the car with him, which I agreed to.
I then asked about the work being done under warranty.
This is where the fun begins.
The manager told me that the guarantee was out, so I would have to pay full price.
I argued that the guarantee was only 2 weeks out, plus the steering rack had failed at only 3200 miles, which in my mind meant it had to have been manufactured faulty when it was first installed onto the car, which in my mind made the part unfit for purpose, as it is quite reasonable to expect a steering rack to last many miles more than this one did.
The manager disagreed strongly.
I asked him if he felt it was reasonable for it to fail so early, and he said it wasn't ideal, but these things happen!
I then told him that by his reckoning, it is reasonable for an average car based on annual mileage to have a new steering rack fitted every 3 months, again the manager shrugged it off.
He offered me a £40 discount, and said that as I was given a good price originally, I should be great full for that!
I had no choice but agree for him to fix my car, so he said he would get it done.
I was far from happy, so I called the Halfords Head Office, and got through to gentleman on customer service.
I explained the above, and said I wasn't happy with £40 discount on a part and labour that cost hundreds.
The 'customer service' rep said he would look into it and call me back within the hour.
The next day I still was waiting for the call, so I rang head office again.
The same person answered, I asked why he didn't call me back, and he replied 'The Torquay Manager was right, so there was nothing to tell you'. (Great customer service)
I then said I was far from happy, and asked to speak to a manager so I could make a complaint.
He refused, and said there were no managers in the building.
I said I found it very hard to believe that a company the size of Halfords had no managers on duty at their head office.
He then said the manager was busy.
'To busy to speak to a customer'? I asked.
He replied Yes.
So I said I would hold until the manager was not busy.
He put me on hold... for 35 minutes, just to come back to me and say the Manager would call me back.
I told him I expected the called within the hour or I would call back, and hung up.
20 minutes later my phone rang, a mobile number flashed up.
The person calling identified himself as Darren Stone, the regional manager for Halfords.
His first words were 'What do you want'?
I began to calmly and politely explain from the beginning, when Darren butted in, and told me I was being incredibly unreasonable, and that a guarantee is a guarantee, and they will not offer ANY discount at all.
I asked him if he felt he was offering good customer service, he replied ' Yes the best, just not to an idiot like you'.
I then asked him to confirm his name, when he began to slowly and deliberately spell it out, in a condescending fashion.
I told him I was perfectly capable of spelling Darren for myself, when he then replied that in his opinion I was a 'Moron' that needed all the help he could muster.
I then told him that his attitude stinks, and that I would never use Halfords again.
I then told him I would make an official complaint about him.
His reply?
'Guess what, the manager at Torquay has fixed your car early after getting a part else where, he was going to charge less than he quoted, but now you can whistle, I will phone him and tell him to put the old part on and take your car to your address, and you are now banned from all Halfords across the country'.
I was simply dumbfounded. What on earth could I say to a man like that?
I hung up.
The Torquay manager then called me, and said his boss had told him to put the old part back on the car, because he thought I wouldn't pay.
He said he called me because he was confused because he thought I wanted him to fix the car.
I told him this was the most bizarre, stupid, and childish behaviour I had ever known
and that quite obviously I wanted my car fixed, and that I did not say once that I would refuse to pay.
I told him I would get a taxi and pick my car up.
The manager then told me he couldn't let me have my own car back until his boss okay-ed it! (I kid you not)
As it was nearly closing time, and I was sick of it all, I told him to do what he liked.
A few minutes later he called me back again, and said the car would be fixed and ready for collection in the morning.
He then stated that even though a new part was on the car, that they wanted me to sign a letter to waive my right to a guarantee, as I was getting it for a special price as a good will gesture!
That was last November.
I have been pushing and pushing my complaint since then, and getting no where.
I then posted the above 2 days ago on their Facebook page, what a surprise, I had a message promising to investigate!
Today, I received a letter (I will scan it and add here tonight) from them stating the Manager and Area Manager had acted in an acceptable manner, the 12 month guarantee was out of date, and the complaint was closed.
No mention at all about the threats, and swearing at a customer.
No apology.
Nothing.
Just a rude brash letter giving me the brush off.
I don't care about getting my money back, I care about the way I was spoken to.

Any way, thoughts?
66 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,307
Thanks: 86
Fixes: 3
Registered: 08-01-2008

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

Typical attitude these days, especially from a national chain retailer.
Thanks for the account of your experience, I'll be avoiding Halfords in the future.
Have you tried local Trading Standards for their opinion?  Worst case is they'll just confirm that you've missed out due to the limitation of the guarantee but I think they'll be a bit more interested in the failure in such a low mileage and a short time.
Local press may also potentially be interested.
Call me 'w23'
At any given moment in the universe many things happen. Coincidence is a matter of how close these events are in space, time and relationship.
Opinions expressed in forum posts are those of the poster, others may have different views.
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,336
Thanks: 607
Registered: 23-09-2010

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

Reminds me of the bad old days when I had a disagreement with my local Sony Centre. I couldn't get any satisfaction from the manager.
So I spent a few hours inside and outside the shop talking to all their customers, pointing out their products bad points, and potential pitfalls in customer service.
In the end the manager walked up to me and asked what I wanted. I said a full refund and I got it.
Perhaps it's time for you to don a sandwich board and march back and forth in front of your local Halfords. And get someone to take pictures, record anything said, and call the press.
Shops, no matter how big they are, hate bad publicity. Especially the very in your face public kind.
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,545
Thanks: 191
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

Under the Limitations Act you have up to 6 years if a component breaks down. I would put everything in writing and send it to the head office with a copy to the branch. Give them 2 weeks to replace the product free of charge or inform them you will go to the Small Claims Court without further notice.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,380
Thanks: 2
Registered: 18-01-2013

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

I would go straight to Trading Standards personally - no messing about and let them take it up with Halfords.
TimeRider
Grafter
Posts: 84
Registered: 12-07-2013

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

Agree strongly with the advice given here, contact trading standards. It is unreasonable for a new steering rack to fail after such a short time (and low mileage). Clearly there was either a manufacturing defect, or halfords fitted it wrong.
I'd also advise small claims court for inconvenience and upset caused - including loss of use of your car.
I'll make sure as many people as possible are aware of halfords incompetence in this matter Smiley
Devonian
Grafter
Posts: 1,854
Registered: 01-05-2011

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

Thank you guys, it's nice to hear my understanding of the law confirmed.
I have already written to the chairman's office, I had a reply today, which I will add below.
I will give Trading Standards a call after work tomorrow, and let you know they said.
I have already looked into the small claims court, and that will be my next port of call.
I just can't believe the cheek of them, even a few months later!


Community Veteran
Posts: 5,316
Thanks: 465
Fixes: 1
Registered: 21-03-2011

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

3200 miles for a steering rack is not acceptable by any measure. This has confirmed my doubts about using Halfords, there are plenty of alternatives.
Here's some more information about them.
Here's another place to note your views.
Now Zen, but a +Net residue.
pwatson
Rising Star
Posts: 2,468
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Fixes: 1
Registered: 26-11-2012

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

I would think that the letter you've had suggests that Halfords consider 12000 miles to be a fair distance so they've almost admitted that 3200 miles isn't!
Devonian
Grafter
Posts: 1,854
Registered: 01-05-2011

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

Thank you AA.
As I said to Halfords, some cars would use less than 4 tanks of fuel per steering rack at that rate!
The manager offered me £40 off.. I declined.  
I told him I would be happy to compromise, and pay the labour, and they can claim back the part price from Ford.
He refused.
He then told me that he quoted me cheaper than he was paying for the part... £570.
I told him brand new genuine OEM racks on eBay were going for £90 and perhaps he should change suppliers.
@pwatson, yes I thought that myself actually.
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 25,758
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Registered: 14-04-2007

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

I've only renewed one steering rack in my life and I've had cars for 6 or 7 years at a time.
If gaiters are maintained I would expect a rack to last 10 years at least.
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Devonian
Grafter
Posts: 1,854
Registered: 01-05-2011

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

@Strat exactly.  My old Transit was a 2007 and had nearly 700k on the clock, and still on the same rack...
PowerLee
Rising Star
Posts: 543
Thanks: 12
Registered: 12-03-2013

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

Steering rack should in theory last the life of the vehicle.
Only damage due to a perished gaiter, impact or a failed seal would normally require a replacement.
I've only ever replaced 1 steering rack & that was due to accident damage.
Community Veteran
Posts: 13,921
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

Halfords shops are just as bad too. I try to avoid them like the plague as I find their attitude towards customers is less than helpful when things go wrong.
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 16,537
Thanks: 1,788
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Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Halfords Auto Centre

I had a bad experience with Halfords back in the early 90's when they screwed up doing a simple MOT.
The only time I've used them since is to source parts that have been cheaper than elsewhere but would never entrust any vehicle with them.

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