Kwik-Fit’s definition of “urgent” is probably different to yours

Back in 2006 I wrote a rant about my local Kwik-Fit and what appeared to be a bad case of incompetence. Time for a new one.

I needed some new tyres on my very old and knackered Saab, and for once Kwik-Fit had the best price. On picking up the car, I was told that they had inspected my brakes – something I hadn’t asked them to do – and my front pads and discs urgently needed replaced. Note that “urgently”. They told me that the rear discs weren’t looking too clever either.

I don’t trust Kwik-Fit to do anything other than swap tyres, so I went shopping around and found a local mechanic who’d do the brakes for a good price.

He did my car today. He didn’t do the front discs.

“How many miles a year do you do?” he asked me. About 7,000, I replied. “You don’t need new discs this year. Might not even need them next year,” he said. “To be honest, you don’t really need to do the pads yet either.”

So much for “urgently”.

17 thoughts on “Kwik-Fit’s definition of “urgent” is probably different to yours

  1. Eloquentlunacy says:

    I used to work for Lucas Autofit, way back in the day – their ‘unofficial’ (*cough) policy was to skim cash on the top, with lots of ‘urgent’ brake pad replacements as well. Suppose it’s one of the things people aren’t willing to risk and end up accepting without question. Atrocious practice.

  2. David says:

    Surely it’d be “take it up the kwik-fitter”?

    Most people nowadays know fuck all about fixing cars, so it’s easy. Same thing happens in any service where people aren’t informed enough. IT, Plumbing, roofing, electrics… If you don’t know then you can’t tell if you’re being conned.

  3. Alison says:

    Surely the way to tell if your pads need replaced is when you can hear that lovely metal-on-metal grinding noise? No? Just me then…

  4. David says:

    Why not? Big chains have targets. If you don’t meet your target you probably don’t get paid as much and long term are likely to get fired. Making people buy things they don’t need and probably won’t question makes you make your target.

  5. David says:

    If you’re in a little chain then reputation is more important so you’re less likely to rip someone off. Usually.

  6. Gary says:

    Oh, I agree, the law of perverse incentives and all that. But you’d think larger chains would have systems in place to try and stop that from happening, for fear of bad PR. If you google this stuff there’s an astonishing amount of angry customers out there.

  7. G24 says:

    I believe Kwik-Fit is a franchise operation so at a local level they might be less bothered about reputation and more interested in their own franchise revenue.

    I expect Kwik-Fit HQ (Glasgow?) might be more concerned about this because a big national malpractice and scamming exposé could do a lot of damage to their whole business.

  8. Squander Two says:

    Hey, I got down to the metal-on-metal grinding noise, and still only needed new pads. According to my brother-in-law the Jaguar master tech, the brakes were fine apart from the pads. According to Kwik-Fit, the brakes needed to be entirely replaced.

  9. hunnymonster says:

    I do – everyone is a bastard and is after my money.

    The differentiating factor is how they work throughout the sale process. My preferred car service firm is not in the business of ripping its customers off, they’re after repeat business so when something is actually urgently wrong, they call and if you ask for an explanation (“so how thick are the discs that you say need urgent replacement?”) you get it. If you’re not there they’ll email pictures if you ask. It’s a local firm for local people.

    On big chains (and indeed big business generally) – with one or two notable exceptions – the customer facing bit is usually so far removed from the official brand image and the part of the business that can actually do the right thing to fix whatever went wrong.

    For that reason I usually seek to avoid them – using the metric of my awareness of their advertising as a guide to which ones to avoid (more adverts – less spend from me). The more they (spend to) advertise – especially the type screaming “we can give you widgets for 50% less than anyone else (for 3 months then jack the price above the competition as it turns out in the small print)” – the less they obviously have to spend on making their service like they advertise (or lower the price).

  10. hunnymonster says:

    >>If you google this stuff there’s an astonishing amount of angry customers out there.

    Yes, but they’re all bellyaching on the internet, not in the place that’s hacking them off (I cleaned that up) or at the HQ of the place that’s hacking them off or at Trading Standards.

    A well-placed “stage whisper” discussion (not shouting, just simply making yourself heard above the hubbub of the shop) with the manager concerned often works wonders (“can we take this into my office?” “No, here is fine”)

    That said there are businesses with whom I will not transact under any circumstance even if it’s going to cost me more or I’ll have to do without.

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