Local Honda garage has just lost my business.
The annual service on my turbo diesel has just come due; I booked it in for last Tuesday. I booked the MOT for the same time. (MOT = annual safety and roadworthiness check; used to be done by the Ministry of Transport, hence MOT. Still called MOT but now run by VOSA, Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. It's franchised out to licenced garages. You may have the MOT done at any time, but ideally you want it done not more than one month before the previous one runs out, because then they will postdate it to the anniversary date. That is, if my MOT runs out on 6 December 2013, I can have the test done after 6 November and they'll give me a certificate to 6 December 2014 but if it's done on 1 November, the renewal date will be 1 November 2014. Also, if your MOT has run out, the only place you may drive your car is to an MOT test centre; it's illegal to drive a car with no current MOT and doing so will probably invalidate your insurance. With me so far?)
The service this year was the Big One at which everything is changed, topped up and made nice. It costs £HugeSum. Like about three times the standard service charge. Well, I intend to drive this car until one of us dies, so I swallowed hard, and approved the work. Local Honda garage sent a man out to collect the car, told me they would call when it was done, or if the MOT showed up any work to be done over and above the service.
They called mid afternoon: there was a problem. The Hippy Chick begins to hyperventilate because she can't afford a Problem. No, no, it's not a Problem with my car. The problem is that they can't do the MOT because some essential piece of equipment has died on them, and essential piece of equipment doesn't belong to the garage, it belongs to VOSA, and they aren't allowed to touch it, so no MOTs can be done until VOSA has sent out a Little Man and had it repaired.
Now this is not at all convenient, but you know, Stuff happens, it can't be helped, and there's no point in getting my knickers in a twist about it. I make a note in my diary every year and as soon as we're into the one month's grace period, I book the MOT so that if the car fails and they have to order in parts, I've got a day or two's breathing space. So there's ten days before my MOT runs out, it's no big deal to make another appointment for today. I say I'll bring the car in myself, they needn't collect it. I'll drop it off at 9:30; the nice man apologising for the inconvenience says it will only take an hour, and helpfully assures me that actually, they'd done most of the checks before the machine went down, so although they can't issue the certificate, I needn't worry, it will go through first time.
So today, I drive the Younger Chick to school, and go home to do this and that and wait for the rush hour traffic to die down a little. Honda Garage telephones me to tell me that the man will be with me shortly to collect my car.
Huh? But it's not being collected. I'm bringing it in. Receptionist and I talk for a minute at cross purposes before I establish that no, I really am bringing it in.
I bring it in. I deliver that car at 9:20, ten minutes ahead of the booked time. I tell them that I have errands to run in town, and I'll be back some time around 11.
At 11:50 I return and... they don't seem to have my paperwork. Would I like to take a seat and it won't be long?
At 12:00 the Receptionist goes for lunch.
At 12:30 when she returns, I ask, politely, if rather shortly, where my car is, because actually, I have things to do, and I can't do them here. Receptionist is very sorry; the MOT computer system (it's all now registered over the internet, not done on paper) has gone down, and they're having to take the cars over to the VW garage across the road. Well, full marks for initiative and getting the tests done, but minus several million for communication - and bear in mind that the VW garage is not unreasonably taking its own clients first. But it will be ready any minute!
At 1:40 I had my keys back. If she'd told me at 12 that it would take that long, I would have asked to be taken home and for them to deliver the car back later - they offer this as a standard service, so it's not SS-y to ask - and maybe got some things done. As it was, by the time I got home, and out to do the thing I should have been doing an hour and a half earlier, and back, I was late collecting the Younger Chick.
I'm just inclined to think that two pieces of equipment failing within a week? Poor. I've still got 3 days on my old certificate but it's not uncommon for people to have only 1. I could afford to wait but most people won't be able to. But not telling me the reason my car wasn't ready? Not allowing me to decide if it was convenient to wait? Not, actually, allowing me to decide that I wanted, in that case, to take my car somewhere else?
Sorry, guys. There are plenty of other garages with MOT accreditation and guess what? I'm going to use one of them.