I don't want to go into a 1000 word essay so I've tried to summarise this down into valid points and be as brief but detailed as possible.
On 24th December 2014, I visited Halfords and purchased engine oil 5L bottle and engine oil top up service.
When the gentlemen from the 'we fit' team came to my car he just had a orange pouring beaker and nothing else.
On pouring the engine oil into the vehicle and inspecting the dipstick I was slightly alarmed that the staff member wasn't using any measuring device
and was seeming freely pouring at his hearts content, I decided to take a photograph of the top op occurring.
My partner and her son where in the car whilst this was all on going.
I assumed being a Halfords 'we fit' member it was probably just my own paranoia that he wasn't using a measuring device or jug.
On completing the top up the staff member told me I was ready to go and it was complete and was about to shut the bonnet
when I quickly noticed and informed him that the engine oil cap had not been reapplied and closed to the engine oil unit.
The staff member apologised saying he had been at work since 6am and was very tired. So I left the store.
On driving approximately 1-2 miles from the store smoke started coming out of the exhaust of the vehicle which i noticed from my rear view mirror and wing mirror.
I immediately stopped the vehicle and as smoke was starting to appear from the exhaust and engine decided to check the engine oil top up.
I at this time read the engine oil dipstick and saw that it was 3 times past the maximum mark.
I took a photograph with it getting into the evening and at this point it became dark quite early and also for proof of the dipstick.
I then returned to the store.
On this point on returning to the store a 'engine malfunction' light appeared on my vehicle.
I informed them of what had occurred and 2 members of staff inspected the engine oil.
The supervisor told me she'd get equipment to drain the engine oil with the staff member.
When they got this equipment because of the size of my vehicle it would not fit.
Therefore the supervisor said she would ring halfords autocentre and see if an 'engine oil overfill' would cause any danger to drive.
After ringing them she came back and told me that a mechanic at Halfords autocentre said the vehicle would be safe to drive with engine oil overfilled.
I asked why the engine malfunction light was occurring and was told it was probably a false sensor alarm on the trip computer
because the car was just 'slightly' over on engine oil.
I asked what would happen if my vehicle was damaged or stopped working because of this
and was told by the supervisor that I would have to seek reimbursement after purchasing the repair from Halfords Autocentre by bringing the receipt in store.
To me this did not make logical sense and
after googling the dangers of 'engine oil overfills' on my phone I decided to go into the store and speak to the staff
to get some form of written liability and promise in writing.
On speaking to the original staff member in store and his colleague they would not provide me anything in writing.
I therefore decided to covertly record the conversation so I had some form of proof of the incident occurring and evidence.
On speaking to the staff instore the store manager was at a till behind them.
The staff told me to not worry and if anything did occur that 'Halfords would pay for it' as they had 'insurance in place for these kind of things'.
I was told that mistakes did happen and before staff had fitted batteries in wrong and Halfords had paid the repair.
The store manager then said that he drives his car which has 150k mileage on it with overfilled engine oil all the time and it does no damage.
With this recorded I left and drove my vehicle home.
I decided that something still did not seem right as I had been told 2-3 different things about reimbursement
(insurance being involved...paying it myself and being reimbursed..halfords paying the repair costs..).
These were three different things and to me it was not logical to drive a vehicle with a engine malfunction light.
I kept the vehicle parked up and switched off and did no further driving.
I rang my breakdown cover and asked them to send a mechanic out for an opinion.
When the mechanic arrived he told me the car was unsafe to drive and the advice Halfords gave me was wrong.
It was not safe to drive a car with overfilled engine oil as it was as bad as driving the vehicle with underfilled engine oil.
He put this into a report of the breakdown he emailed to customer services, which I later requested.
I therefore waited until Boxing Day and in the meanwhile i was left without a car because Halfords was not open during this period.
When I rang the customer services on 26/12/14 at 2pm I spoke to someone there and they promised me that my car would be repaired until I was 'happy'.
I asked them provide this in writing in which they did in the form of 'case notes' that were forwarded to me.
I was told this would be done ASAP and the store would be instructed on how to do this.
On being taken home by my mother at approximately 5pm I got a phonecall from someone claiming to work for Halfords claim team.
I therefore spoke to them and they told me that they would require proof of the breakdown report
and that the car was unsafe to drive as a result of the store's misadvice and negligence.
I therefore asked them to put in writing this. Which they did in a email to me on 26/12/14 at 5.23pm
I sent them the breakdown report, dipstick reading and audio recording on 26/12/14 at 9.58pm
On the 29/12/14 I was contacted by the claims team via telephone on Monday throughout the day
who said they would get the car towed to an autocentre to be flushed.
This was done and I then awaited the car to be repaired.
I asked about what would happen to any charges such as taxi for transport because of Halford's error
and as since Xmas eve I had been without a car.
I was told to email any costs in form of receipts and they would be reimbursed.
On the 30/12/14 I was told the car would be repaired at 5pm.
I decided to ring the autocentre repairing the car and ask them to specifically look at the catalytic converter
and gasket and do a emissions test and thorough check of all components of the car as I was worried that from seeking advice these could be damaged.
I was told this would be done.
I picked the car up at 5pm and was given no receipt or invoice and was told that the car was done. Neither did I sign anything.
On picking the vehicle up I noticed that before the car had been towed it had 3/4 full of petrol.
It now only had below half so i took a photograph of this and asked for 25% of the petrol to be reimbursed to me,
as I would not have lost this petrol if the matter had not happened and I sent Halfords the original receipt.
The following day I noticed that the A/C was no longer working
and neither was the audio system/CD player and these components of the vehicle had been before.
I therefore tried to call Halfords but was told by the customer services team that the claims handler was busy
and so they would get him to ring me back.
I tried to call Halfords two more times within that week with the same response.
On the 6th January (6 days) later I sent Halfords a email to the email address they had been corresponding to me at
informing them of the problems with the vehicle and my concerns. I received no response and
when I called on the 7th January was told that the claims handler who was dealing with my case did not work weekends
and had been off so to allow a few days for a call back.
On driving to Nottingham on the 9/1/15 M1 the same engine malfunction light that appeared on the engine oil overfill
re-appeared on my car's trip computer and dashboard with a weird smell.
I decided to pull in and call Halfords customer service and demand to speak to a manager.
On calling them they put me through to the claims handler who told me to take the car to my nearest autocentre.
I did this and on the 10/1/15 the autocentre confirmed that the diagnosis was that the car had a 'emissions fault' and the 'catalytic converter' needed replacing.
Halfords claim team called me on the 10/1/15 and told me that the repair would be started on Monday.
On Monday 12/1/15 I was called by the claims handler and told the repair would take upto 1 working day
but as this autocentre was under staffed that they would require further time,
so a courtesy car in the form of car hire had been sorted for me with Enterprise locally to me.
I was told I had to pay the deposit amount on the vehicle but the rental fees would be covered by Halfords.
Therefore with no other choice I accepted the rental vehicle.
I did this and got the courtesy car.
On Wednesday 14/1/15 I was called by the claims handler to say that 'due to the cost of the catalytic converter'
an 'investigation' was going to take place to see how the catalytic converter had been damaged and not spotted before.
I accepted Halfords to do this as I knew nothing had been done.
On 23/1/15 I received an email from the claims handler saying that Halfords staff had given 3 witness statements
stating that only 1 litre of engine oil was entered to the vehicle which all staff witnessed
and the engine oil dipstick was seen by 3 members of staff who all said it was at minimum,
thus the autocentre found the engine oil amounts to be between 1.5-2 litres over therefore this did not match amounts.
The autocentre had raised no concerns at the time but the investigation concluded the engine oil amounts did not match
and thus Halfords stated that after Halfords topped up the oil i must have added more oil to the vehicle and damaged the vehicle myself,
therefore Halfords were no longer liable for the damage/s and expense/s and the car hire would be ended on 29/1/15.
On the 30/1/15 I rang the customer services and informed them I would like to speak to someone above the claims handler
as at the time of the incident occurring and the engine oil top up happening my partner who was a witness to it all was there
and could testify that 3 people did not check/supervise the top up.
I also informed Halfords that i had a photograph of the engine oil top up occurring which had a time/date linked to it which was further evidence.
I was promised that I would get a phonecall from a higher up member of the team on the Monday 26/1/15 as the claims team did not work on a Saturday.
I received no call on the 26/1/15 from anyone higher up and instead was greeted by this email from the claims handler:
I understand that you have contacted us over the weekend in regards our response dated the 23rd.
I can confirm that I have already discussed this case in detail with Halfords' High Level Complaints Manager,
XXXXXXXX, prior to sending the email on the 23rd and that she has confirmed our stance.
As previously advised if you do wish to take this further then I can only advise that you seek independent legal advice
and address any correspondence to Halfords Legal, as we will not be giving this further consideration at Customer Services.
I then decided to reply with a letter before action (LBA) and sent one via post to the address I was told to send further consideration to only
(the legal team at halfords) via recorded delivery and one via email to the address for Halfords I had.
I yesterday received the below response to my LBA.
Dear Mr XXXXXX,
I confirm receipt of your email.
Taking into account our prior correspondence, we are comfortable that this is our final position on this matter,
and we do not propose to respond to you further in this circumstance.
We refute your assertion that liability has been accepted at any point and recommend that you do seek legal advice should you wish to take this further.
We await service of your claims paperwork from your legal representative and would ask that your case number of XXXXXXX is on all paperwork submitted.
I am now fed up over the matter.
I am going to commence a MCOL.
But need help in writing the particulars section.
I have looked on the internet but found no examples of applicable use
and don't know if what I have done is good enough.
Can anyone help?
Oh and I forgot to mention have still not had my vehicle back..and car hire was cancelled 24 hours earlier than what I was told!