Halfords Autocentre (Stratford upon Avon) fined £28,000 for poor car service

Halfords Autocentres Ltd has been fined £28,000 after their Stratford upon Avon Autocentre carried out an unsatisfactory car service.

Warwickshire County Council’s trading standards service successfully prosecuted the company following an undercover test purchase and investigation.

The car service, carried out by Halfords Autocentre (located on the Birmingham Road in Stratford upon Avon) cost £210, but garage staff failed to rectify or report 11 separate faults on the Volkswagen Passat, including: leaking front shock absorbers; a spilt drive shaft gaiter; an insecure battery and excessive play on the anti-roll bar. Staff also failed notice a split wiper blade, didn’t top up the brake fluid level from the minimum or increase the spare tyre pressure to the recommended level. In court, Halfords barrister stated that technicians sometimes ‘cut corners’.

The vehicle was also supposed to have been taken for a test drive, however the mileage indicator showed it hadn’t been driven anywhere. The service was signed off by a quality controller at the branch, despite some faults not being spotted and others which had been spotted by the technician not being notified to the customer or rectified.

At Birmingham Magistrates Court on Friday 15th March 2019, Halfords was handed a £28,000 fine and ordered to pay costs of £11,700.97 and a victim surcharge of £170. Halfords had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said:

“Most of us are not vehicle experts and haven’t got the expertise to know if a car service has been carried out properly or not. We rely on garages to carry out services correctly so that we can have confidence that our vehicles are properly maintained and consequently safe to drive.”

“I’m delighted that Warwickshire Trading Standards is carrying out this important work to protect road users.”

Warwickshire trading standards regularly carries out undercover car servicing enforcement exercises. An expert vehicle examiner places faults on cars before they are submitted for services at garages across Warwickshire. On completion, the vehicle expert then examines the vehicles to see if the garages have carried out the services to an acceptable standard.

Mr Hibbert, representing the company stated that nationally, Halfords serviced 22,000 cars a month and relied upon their technicians and that sometimes they cut corners. He said that the company accepted it could have done better and its systems failed, but in mitigation maintained that Halfords had cooperated with the investigation and took its legal responsibilities very seriously.

Warwickshire residents wishing to make a complaint about a vehicle service they have paid for can do so by contacting Warwickshire trading standards via the Citizens Consumer Advice Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

More information about the work of trading standards in Warwickshire is available on the Warwickshire website: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards