How to pro­tect your­self against part switch­ing

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

THERE are many ur­ban leg­ends about auto work­shops, in­clud­ing the re­cently de­bunked one that they rip off women cus­tomer. The truth is, the more dis­hon­est ones will rip off any­body that’ll stand still for it, gen­der not­with­stand­ing.

But one of the most en­dur­ing is the one about part switch­ing - how this guy took his car in for a ser­vice a cou­ple of weeks af­ter re­plac­ing the bat­tery and, just days later, the bat­tery died, or how that girl got her VW Golf back from a re­spray, only to find an old Toy­ota rim with a worn-out tyre in the spare-wheel well.

The sce­nario al­ways ends with the mo­torist say­ing: “I’m con­vinced they swopped my car’s new part for an old one dur­ing the ser­vice but I can’t prove it.”

“Try look­ing at it from the other side,” sug­gested Mo­tor In­dus­try Work­shop As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Les Mcmaster. “Re­peat busi­ness is es­sen­tial for re­pair work­shops, so break­ing cus­tomers’ trust by switch­ing parts doesn’t make good busi­ness sense; even if they can’t prove it they won’t come back.

“Any­way, it’s il­le­gal, and if the staff ex­change parts in the work­shop with­out the owner or man­age­ment’s knowl­edge, they could be sum­mar­ily dis­missed and charged with theft.”

But what can the cus­tomer do to guard against part switch­ing? Many din­ner-ta­ble ex­perts ad­vise se­cretly mark­ing parts that could be at risk, such as the bat­tery or spare wheel, but Mcmaster pointed out this of­ten sim­ply an­noys the work­shop staff.

Rather be up­front about it “Have it men­tioned on the job sheet that the bat­tery, tools, jack and spare wheel are marked for ev­ery­body’s pro­tec­tion.

“And while you’re about it, please take all your valu­ables, such as cell­phone charg­ers and mu­sic play­ers, out of the car,” he said. “We of­ten find ex­pen­sive watches, jewellery, even large sums of money in plas­tic bags, in cars that come in for ser­vice or re­pair.”

Use a rep­utable and ac­cred­ited work­shop, he ad­vised. That way you have a come­back if you have a com­plaint, and you’re as­sured of a res­o­lu­tion.

“If you’re sure that a part has been switched with­out your con­sent,” he added, “it’s im­por­tant to speak up im­me­di­ately, so the work­shop owner un­der­stands your con­cerns — of­ten that’s enough to re­solve the issue.

“If your com­plaint turns out to be jus­ti­fied, lay a crim­i­nal charge or in­sist that the owner does — ei­ther way, it’s im­por­tant to send the mes­sage that mess­ing with the cus­tomer’s car just isn’t worth it.”

— Mo­tor­ing.

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