A Series Spares
Yup, we’re here again discussing the boil that is A Series Spares. See, over the last couple of weeks they’ve put a post on their own website attempting to rebut some criticism they’d been facing. A distinctively EX-customer was letting people know that he’d been waiting over eleven weeks for a refund, and A Series were playing ‘your cheque is in the post’*. Then a number of other victims of A Series awful practices and standards also joined in the thread with their own experiences, and A Series felt their best course of action would be to issue a rebuttal of sorts. So far, so good, but regrettably A Series decided to pick out individual customers, including myself, and allege that these customers haven’t been honest or behaved well. On the basis that there’s no ‘right of reply’ to their website claims, it seems reasonable to me to publish my own rebuttal of their claims about me.
So, here we are then. Here’s their section about ‘#Incident 1’, corrected by me in italics for accuracy 🙂
“Morris Minor Traveller comes in to our workshop for poor running and some restoration work. As with lots of this sort of work once you start digging the vehicles are not quite to the standard that the owner thinks and revised work schedules have to be drawn up. Increasing both the timeframe and the cost involved.”
Unfortunately, we forgot to tell the customer that the cost would increase. Not once, or twice, not five times or ten. In fact we forgot to tell the customer about cost changes, on every single occasion we spoke to him. Later, when solicitors became involved, we were asked to show contemporary notes in our own files about this customers costs, and we didn’t find a single word, but that’s obviously only because we threw away our old workbooks when they were full up. After all, it’s not as though a business would ever dream they might need what might be in them, is it? We were also asked to show any reference, at all, to cost increases in any of our emails, any of our text messages, any of our Facebook messages, and we didn’t find a single one in there either. But that’s just a coincidence obviously, and we did tell him!
“The customer in question was a customer whose vehicle we had carried out small jobs on previously but this was the largest job we had under taken. This job also proved to be the one that made us realise that no matter how long you have known someone, NEVER let the car leave, without full payment.”
It would have been a bit unrealistic of us to expect it to be paid on the spot though, because, as per the bit above, we’d never mentioned any numbers other than the ones he’d already paid, and here we were asking him for an additional thirteen grand that he only found out when he picked up the car. Eh? You gasped at the thirteen grand bit? On a car that had won ‘Best Modified’ at that years National Rally? And had just returned from a trip around the Alps? Well yeah, it ‘looked’ okay, but honestly, it was a miracle it hadn’t fallen apart!
Actually we told him, and here’s a direct quote so there’s no ambiguity “Don’t open the invoice now. Get the car home and enjoy it for the weekend, and then have a look and work it out about what we’ve done”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he got suspicious when we said that and opened it there and then! How unfair was that!? Anyway, he started ranting that he’d never seen these numbers before and we didn’t fancy trying to justify them, so I ran away and hid in our office. Yup, again for clarity. I knew I had no chance of explaining why the bill I was presenting was for the figures in it, so I simply left the workshop and went to the office and refused to come back out until my dad had bumpstarted the car so the customer could leave.
“As we knew the customer quite well, Lots of the workload was discussed and agreed in person via site visits.”
We actually quite liked the ‘site visits’ because they were more lucrative than actually working on the customers car. See, we might have forgot to tell him about it at the time, but we were actually charging him for these visits as well as for the work on the car itself. In fact, we ended up charging him four hundred pounds just for visiting his car while it was with us, which we thought was a jolly good wheeze. In hindsight now, we’d probably not want to hold our hands up to that, but that sneaky bastard customer got his solicitor to make us submit an hours breakdown and we actually wrote it down on there so it’s kinda hard to deny now.
“It included a partial respray,”
which we told him we’d have done elsewhere in a professional spray booth, to match the quality of the paint already on the car. Unfortunately by the time we got round to doing the painting we remembered we hadn’t booked that, so we put together a Halfords tent in our workshop and sprayed it in there instead. To be fair, even we were shocked at how bad a result that style of preparation could achieve. Perhaps we should have swept out the dust in the workshop before spraying, but it was so poor that we told the customer “Oh it was dark when we painted it and we’ve not yet seen it outside in natural light”.
“Complete Engine build,”
Well, it didn’t *need* that, but that’s what we persuaded him anyway. We had no sodding idea how to rebuild his engine and in the end it was the customer who identified the pistons in there because we hadn’t learned how to use Google yet.
Actually we might have got slightly carried away with the rewiring, because we forgot to tell the customer we were going to do it. In fact, the first he knew about a rewire was when he saw a picture we posted online of his wiring loom cut out of the car. Still, we knew that it was the right thing to do so we carried on anyway and decided to design him a brand new loom that was really super cool. We’d decided we wanted to be car electrical engineers and, well you know us, once we set our minds to something we just get out there and achieve it! It was a bargain, too. We only charged the customer £504 to just design this new loom we had in mind, plus another £72 to refresh the design when we realised we’d screwed it up, oh okay, and another £576 to plan its installation. Ummm, and another £2,304 fitting and testing it. Errr, plus £90 rechecking our own design again when the fuse to the sidelight kept blowing. Still, we think that’s £3,546 well spent! Well, until a real auto electrician looked at the job and told the customer it all needed ripping out, anyway. Just to rub salt in the wound, we forgot to keep a note of a wiring diagram for the new installation, and so the customers solicitor wrote to us and told us it would be cheaper to rip it out and start again. Obviously he was just picking on us though. I mean, everyone makes mistakes, right? We knew what some of the wiring was for! Isn’t that enough?
“and lots of improvement work, and a whole host of new parts. The additional workload was seen to be required once we started to strip the vehicle. The workload was agreed in person. “
Again unfortunately, we neglected to record a single word in our daily dairies of how we’d spent each day or in any correspondence with the customer, but hey, you know us guys. Our word is gospel, innit?
“We rebuilt the engine back to the specification it was when it came in but refreshing what was required.”
The only fly in the ointment to this new wonder engine we’d built was that, no matter how many times we put the customer off collecting it so we could carry on trying, we simply couldn’t make the damn thing stay running when you took your foot off the throttle. In fact, we can remember the night he came to get it, when first we and then he spent five or six minutes simply trying to start it up so he could leave in it. The customer saw the funny side! We were all laughing! Oh no, hang on, sorry, that’s not right. The customer was furious that we’d broken his engine and couldn’t make it tick over, that was right!
“The carburettor had previously been shot blasted so we fitted a new unit.”
Well, we didn’t, but we told him that we had, which is pretty much the same thing isn’t it? He claimed via his solicitor later that the carb on the car was actually his old one, not a new expensive one that we’d billed him for. What a suspicious bastard, eh? So we told him that it was a new one, and that we had his old one here in the workshop and that we’d sent it back to him once we’d agreed a settlement. Since we didn’t actually have his carb to send him, we sent him a dashpot, carb spring, and an old needle instead, but the rotten cheating customer had videod receiving and then immediately opening the parcel and so proved we hadn’t given him his carb back. How bloody unsporting is that, videoing opening a parcel because you don’t think it’ll contain what it should contain?!
“When the vehicle was around 95% complete the customer required it for a show, we allowed the vehicle to leave before it was correctly set up”
because, well, we couldn’t set it up
“and before the bodywork had been flatted and finished.”
because we’d discovered that our paintwork was actually so shite that it wasn’t going to polish up no matter what we did to it.
“We then receive a call to let us know that the vehicle was not coming back”
I know, it’s shocking isn’t it? Customer actually has the temerity to collect his car even though we tell him we ain’t done, simply because we’re weeks and weeks behind our deadline and we’ve broken several more promises to have it ready! You’d think these bloody customers thought they had rights or something, the way they act!
“and the customer would not be paying his bill and over the next 12 months we struggled to get any money from the job.”
Rotten customer turned out to be insured for legal costs, and got a solicitor to start asking us really awkward questions, mostly ones that we couldn’t answer, so we dragged it on for as long as we could and then came to a settlement. We’re not stupid though, we made it a condition of the settlement that the details of it couldn’t be revealed. That’ll learn him!
“Lots of lessons learnt from that both in life and business.”
Sadly though, the other cases on this page would indicate that we didn’t learn too much…
“Since this incident we have been plagued by online ramblings from the customer who seems to have convinced himself of the hardships he elaborately created when putting his “case” together, However I suppose so many people were approached with that side of events that should character be dropped it would not sit well.”
See, unlike us, who haven’t got time for all this silly ‘recordings’ and ‘facts’ crap, the customer painstakingly detailed and set out his case, and that did somewhat leave us in the brown stuff. Turned out we had billed him for hundreds and hundreds of pounds worth of parts for other peoples cars, and for stock for our shop, and for tools we were a bit short of, and some other trivialities like that. Details, shmetails.
“There were positives that came from this incident however, We picked up a lot of trade from new customers who saw the car simply did not believe the stories,”
Just checking that you’re not all laughing here? Because, come on, that’s plausible, innit? That people saw a finish that was so unremittingly awful that even we said about it that we hadn’t seen it in daylight, and decided they wanted some of that?
“When adjudging the character of the customer and ours many have simply chosen to allow the work that comes from our workshop to do the talking.”
Which is why we’ve a couple more cases on this page, and another large handful of people in the online thread telling us their own stories of grief at the hands of our shop.
“We would invite anyone to come and view the work and you will be welcomed.”
Well, as long as you’re not a member of the MMOC anyway. We don’t like them. Oh, and as per the above, we reserve the right to charge you to come…
This is the real story of A Series Spares, of Ilkeston. Do you really want to take your pride and joy there?