Complaint: TrustFord

I purchased a car from TrustFord Woodford Green, around 2 years ago, as part of the purchase I decided to take up the 5 year service-plan that covered the service and MOT of the car for the next 5 years. I recently had an issue where this year TrustFord forgot to MOT the car at the same time as the service, which meant I had to make a complaint, full transcript below:

I am writing to complain and bring to your attention a number of issues with a recent service on my black Ford Focus xxxx xxx. I purchased the car in December 2013 and purchased the 5 year service plan. In September 2014 the car was serviced and went through it’s first MOT as part of the service plan. I was very pleased with the whole process and everything was managed by the service centre well.

On 27th July (according to your customer service centre) I was contacted to book in my 2015 service. Everything appeared to be booked correctly and the car was serviced on 28th August 2015 at Billet Road, Walthamstow. Overall I was happy with the process and believed that everything had been completed successfully.

On 22nd October I received a letter from the DVLA alerting me to the fact that my road tax would not renew due to a lack of MOT. I immediately went online and checked the MOT expiry date which showed as 8th September 2015. I had been under the impression that an MOT would be carried out at the same time as my service in August – given this was how it worked in 2014 and that MOT’s are included in the service plan. I had been driving a car around illegally without an MOT for the past 2 months.

I called up the customer service centre on Friday 23rd October, to try and sort out the situation. I explained the situation (I would suggest that you listen to the recordings) and ended up chatting with Carlos (a team leader) to sort the situation out. During the call Carlos pointed out the following information:

  • The MOT had been missed as an import of data was incorrect and did not pass this information into your systems – he could not explain anything further than this
  • He tried to explain that the issue was due to the service in 2013 – which even if true should not affect me as the car was not owned by me in that year!
  • That I cannot expect for 100% of people to be dealt with correctly. I explained that while this was the case it was still your responsibility to correctly compensate and rectify the situation. This felt like a poor excuse and not exactly what you want to hear from a company you have purchased a product from.
  • That it was my legal responsibility to check for a valid MOT. While I totally accept this I have purchased the service plan to make my life easier – a yearly reminder to get my car serviced and MOT’d, without any hassle. I can probably find a cheaper service elsewhere, but when combined with the complete service the service plan provided it appeared this was a better option.
  • I never actually received an apology – but rather a number of excuses as to why it wasn’t correctly dealt with.
  • I tried to book an emergency MOT for the day after, but could only receive this by driving to the test centre – something that would waste my time and effort for a problem caused by your own systems. I eventually settled for a MOT on the next working day and had to do without a car for the complete weekend.

Overall I was extremely disappointed by the whole process. There is no reason why my car should not have been MOT’d at the same time as the service – something which I have paid for within the service plan. I am also extremely disappointed by the attitude from the service centre where a total lack of responsibility was taken.

This situation lead me to further check my documentation from the last service. In my original contract it states that at the 2nd year service a brake fluid change was included, however I was charged £30.99 and £3.04 (both excluding VAT) for a brake fluid change that should have been included.

Both of these issues lead me to the conclusion that Ford have severely let me down. As a consequence I would like to be compensated for the fact that the MOT was not carried out as it should have been and that I have been overcharged for something that was included in the original contract. It should not take the customer to check this information – it should be carried out correctly by your staff! I would suggest an appropriate compensation would be to refund me my service plan of £17.04 per month for the past 12 months, plus the refund of the brake fluid change, as the 2015 plan was a total shambles. I would also frankly like an apology, something which I do not feel I have been given so far for the time and effort I have had to put into this issue and to bring it to your attention as a complaint. I have also had to take a 2nd day out of the office – something that has been caused by the inaccuracy of your systems.

I would welcome a verbal discussion about this if you would prefer, please contact me on my mobile xxxxx xxxxxx. While this should not prejudice my complaint I would like to let you know that I will be publishing the full details of the complaint on my personal blog to ensure that others are aware of the situation.

Things went quiet for a little while, I received a phone call from TrustFord but missed the call and had to go on holiday. On my return I received a paper letter, sent to my home address (not sure why they didn’t contact me by email as I had raised the original complaint in that format). The letter stated that unless they heard from me 3 days ago they would close the complaint. I responded:

Thank you for your letter dated 30th October 2015. I apologise for not being able to get back in touch with you by your deadline of 6th November, but I have been on holiday for the past week.

I have to say I’m even more disappointed with the service given how my complaint has been handled. I originally tried to return your call after you left a voicemail on 26th / 27th October. Unfortunately you only left me the switchboard number and xxx is not that common a name. I asked for xxx and was redirected around 3-4 numbers, including Enfield and another customer service centre – all of which could not put me through to the right person. This was a very frustrating event, although if you had left your direct dial (as you did on the letter) it may have been easier to get in touch! I did finally get your direct dial from the service invoice but your phone never went to voicemail and was never picked up.

It leaves me slightly confused why you decided to then write to my house, rather than respond directly to my written complaint sent by email – which is included again below for full information. Please do not close this complaint as I am still far from satisfied with the resolution.

You are welcome to try and contact me again on Monday (xxxxx xxxxxx), however if I am unable to answer at work I would suggest that you respond in writing by email to the issues I have raised below in order that we move this forwards rather than drag this on further. Regardless of the verbal conversation I will be asking for a written explanation anyway for my records.

I got the following response:

Thank you for your email and please accept my apologies for any confusion caused by names and by not leaving a direct dial telephone number.

I have tried calling you this morning on your mobile number but unfortunately I was unable to get through.

Having looked at the EMAC Service plan agreement, it appears that you do not have brake fluid change on the plan hence why it was chargeable at the last occasion.

Although I do understand your level of frustration in regards to the car not being booked for its MOT test, however I do need to remind you that it is ultimately the responsibility of the driver to ensure their car is MOT’d at all times.

As a learning from this event, we will look at our processes in regards to imported data to try and ensure this does not re-occur.

Finally you have asked for a form of compensation. I need to advise you that we do not give compensation, however as a goodwill gesture I am willing to cover the cost of your next service and not claim this against your EMAC service plan. This would then leave two more services for future needs.

Unfortunately this didn’t really address the complaint very well! Again I had to respond:

I can’t help but still feel very angry about the way in which this complaint has been dealt with. Aside from a single line in your printed letter I have not yet received an apology or explanation about the points raised in my initial complaint. I have to say that I feel like I am being fobbed off and that you are more interested in clearing this complaint quickly than giving it the time and investigation required to address the issues I have raised.

I apologise again for not being able to talk on the phone, however I’ve already spent enough of my working hours dealing with this and find it difficult to take calls during the working day. Please understand, from a customer perspective the difference between a poor and great company is how complaints are handled. Even great companies receive complaints, but when someone complains they walk away feeling that the company has listened to them, addressed their issues and dealt with them so they feel amazed at what happened. At the moment I’m still feeling my complaint has not really been handled correctly, so I have cc’d the customer care email back into the chain and would welcome a comment from the customer care team.

A couple of points you make in your email below were what made me angry. Please see the attached scan of the documentation I received when signing up to the service plan. You will clearly see on page 2 that brake fluid change is marked as a + in the year 2 service. Please can you explain why this does not mean it was not included? This feels like another example of poor computer systems not being correct and up-to-date.

Finally, please understand that from a complainants perspective the final sentence just makes me angrier still. It feels like you are trying to play semantic games, probably to hide away from legal repercussions – none of which makes me feel valued as a customer at all.

I welcome your comments on the above and as stated previously would welcome your customer care team’s opinion on how this complaint has been dealt with so far.

What then occurred was the worst game of telephone tennis ever! Given I was raising the complaint it still felt like I was the one having to go out of my way to get in touch with TrustFord – not a very good customer experience at all! In the mean-time a cheque for the brake fluid appeared, it turned out this was charged incorrectly, so I responded:

Just for full transparency and so that I have backed up my message by email. I have just tried calling both your office and mobile phones. It looks like it is still very tricky to get in touch verbally. I am trying at times that are convenient for me, but it does not appear that you are around. Can we book a time to talk tomorrow 1pm onwards at which point I will call you on the desired number? By booking a time, I would hope that we’re both available.

I did receive a cheque in the post yesterday, but will not be cashing this until we have fully settled the complaint to ensure that this is not taken as a sign that the complaint has been settled to my satisfaction.

Notice how I’ve had to suggest booking a time for a call, something I would have hoped TrustFord would have suggested given the difficulty in us speaking. We finally then managed to chat things through, and finally it felt like my complaint had actually been listened to. It was backed up by the following email from TrustFord:

As per our conversation earlier this week please accept this email as confirmation that I will cover the cost of your next maintenance service free of charge and not claim it against your Emac service plan.

This will mean you will have two more services on the plan after the free one, so one in 2017 and the final one in 2018 as long as you continue your payments as arranged.

I have also spoken with Annette in the Emac specialist team today who has confirmed that this is fine for me to do and will make a note on the system to this affect.

As you can appreciate I will cover the cost of the service, however any additional defects noted would be chargeable in the usual way.

Please can I ask you to print this email and bring it with you when you drop the car, or pass it to the drivers when we collect your car.

Finally I would like to thank you once again for your patience Mr Brown, and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience we have caused.

Although my complaint had been upheld and the correct compensation provided, it still felt pretty galling the way I had been treated. In fact I’m still going to have to deal with my service differently next time to ensure that I don’t get incorrectly charged – it still feels like it is being made my problem! We exchanged a few emails after this to confirm the exact details of how this would affect the service plan, but they are not interesting enough for others to read.

Anyway, some lessons I believe TrustFord should take from this:

  • When something goes wrong, admit it and make it right
  • TrustFord must be the flexible ones in terms of contact to ensure that the complaint is dealt with fairly and to the customers satisfaction – I still feel I went out of my way to deal with this personally when I shouldn’t have to
  • Even though the correct outcome was reached it still feels like the onus is on me to ensure that it is dealt with correctly in future years!
  • The time taken to address this complaint was far too long, over 1 month for a simple mistake on your part.
  • Finally, train your contact centre staff, I was appalled by how I was treated by them when I raised the issue in the first place. Excuses, excuses – not what your customers want to hear!

One Reply to “Complaint: TrustFord”

  1. I am a young lady and want to share my story of how Trustford are making careless errors on our vehicles and still advertise…
    “Our launch campaign is based on research that revealed our customers believe our people, our passion and our personal approach are what makes the difference to their experience; and gives them the trust they are looking for when buying and maintaining their vehicle.
    Today29/07/2016 my car Cmax went into your garage for a full service+MOT and electronic vehicle health check. All tests were checked and completed. At end I was also advised that my car needed an Aircon service, a fuel additive treatment service and a brake fluid change. I agreed that they do all of the work they had advised. I paid the bill of £380 and took the car out of the garage. On the way home I could feel that the brakes wasn’t quite right. I was thinking that it might be due to the brake fluid change (trapped air or some minor) so I continued to drive hoping that it would correct itself. However everytime I pushed down on the brakes (at the lights) the pedal just slipped slowly to the floor. Until eventually I was pushing down on the brake pedal and the car wouldn’t stop. By this time, I was so scared and started to panic. I had NO brakes. No way of stopping the car. Help!!! I knew I could slow the car down by going into 1st gear. I panicked again, how was I going to stop the car??? I was getting closer to the car infront who had his brake lights on and the car behind me was slowing down. But how would i stop the car? I was pushing frantically on the pedal praying something… Eventually on the hand brakes. The lights changed for green and everyone behind me was bibbing their horns so I started the car and drove to the safest stop point. This time I knew that I could use the hand brakes but it didn’t feel like a natural manoeuvre so I was pushing down on the brake pedal while pulling up on the hand brakes (very awkward). By now the warning signs are flashing on the dashboard ‘ brake fluid level low service now’ but didnt the car just undergo a full service all morning and didn’t the technician just change the brake fluid? Something isnt right? So now I’m angry I rang the garage and told them the incident. What upset me most is when I rang the garage they insisted I bring the car straight back to the garage. I was already in shock and was terrified that I would crash. There was no compassion ‘I told them that my car had just left their garage and it had no brakes and that I could have crashed. All they said was bring the car back to the garage’. It was 2:30pm on a Saturday & I knew if I didn’t bring it in straight away that I wouldn’t have a car for the weekend. It took me 30mins on (a 20mins journey) with my hazards lights on to drive the car back to the garage. I had been through hell and back but when I got back to the garage everyone was very busy. I had to insist that someone look at my car now as it was here from 8:30am. I wasn’t happy and waited another hour before the car was looked at. The technician eventually told me that the fault was something to do with air +dust and the would sort it out staight away. But I felt that it was due to negligence as the brake fluid was low even though it had just been changed. I believe that one of your technicians(Angelos Stylianou/staff was careless in their procedure. Their carelessness and unskilled training nearly cost me my death. This was very dangerous and I hope that this was a one of and it hasn’t happened to any other customer.
    I am driving my family to Reading in 2wks time. I fear that the brakes will fail. So to put my mind at ease I would like to get the brakes double checked(free of charge) by another garage (not Enfield).

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