Thursday, 4 February 2010

MOTs - The cost of failure

My peugeot is my chariot. I dislike the bloody thing intensely because it is small, and isn't blingy enough, but it is still my chariot.......and today I realised that my chariot's MOT certificate had run out.

[For people who don't live in the UK, MOT stands for Ministry of Transport. Cars are tested to make sure that they conform to basic safety standards ...... something which takes all the excitement and mystery out of motoring if you ask me].

Yep, it is a legal requirement in the UK that every car has an MOT certificate, so I was pretty sure that my day was going to be spent procuring the blasted document. Why? Well firstly, it is a governmental requirement for crikey's sake, why make it easy? And secondly, I was fairly sure my chariot was going to fail the test.

Pic.No.1 My car undergoing MOT forensics

After arriving at the garage and spending 50 minutes waiting in a drafty office, it became pretty obvious, pretty quickly that my chariot had indeed failed its MOT. And the general demeanour of the mechanic made me adament that I wasn't going to pay him to do the repairs............

"Ooh," he said, sucking in his breath whilst simultaneously stroking his chin, "it's gonna cost ya." (don't you just hate it when people do that?)

"Just tell me why it failed," I snapped (unlike me, but I did). 

He scowled and handed over a list of chariot failures.........

"That'll set you back at least £300," he grinned, like a weasel in the undergrowth, "do you want us to commence repairs?"

"No thank you." I answered, and picking up my car-key. "I already have someone else lined up to do the repairs." (that was a bit of a fib)

"Suit yourself," shrugged the mechanic as I stomped out of the garage, on my way to another garage that I knew about. 

Fifteen minutes later I was standing in Garage B where another mechanic was sucking in air and shaking his head, "trouble is," he said, "I don't know how much it is gonna cost you until we dismantle the brakes."

Grrrrrrrrr. It was getting towards afternoon, and I was getting truly fed-up of garages and mechanics.

"Ok, just do it," I said, leaving the keys on the counter.

Pic.No.2. The cost of failure - £253.70

Four hours later, I got a call from the garage that my car was ready to pick up. Soon after arriving, I was handed an invoice for £253.70. HOW MUCH?
I was flabberghasted, and upon detailed examination, it became clear that £188.00 of that was attributed to labour charges. 

"Excuse me," I asked the lady behind the desk, "what is the hourly labour rate?"

"£50.00" she smiled back. 

Now is it me? But when did mechanics start earning as much as lawyers? That is a salary of £104,000 ($164,701) per year. Un-bloody-believable. And so I left with a heavy heart, and the feeling that somehow, I had been properly jibbed. 

Is it only me that seems to have a high proportion of negative experiences when it comes to garages?


  1. First rule with car repairs, when they replace anything ask for the old parts!!!! Then when you get the old parts make sure they are for your car.

    MOT tests and repairs are for some places a licence to print money. There are many honest places but there are many dishonest as well.


  2. Wow Robert. I should have taken you with me! That is a great idea asking for the old parts.

  3. Having spent all my working life in customer service I always assume that places like garages are out to screw me, and anything less is a bonus!!

    When I had need of a car and took it in for service and things like belts and plugs were down to be changed I used to mark them then when given the old parts I could confirm they were mine and when looking at the new parts I could confirm they had been replaced and not just cleaned.


  4. No MOT's in Florida... that would be anti-American

  5. Asking for the old parts is a good idea, I have started doing that the past few years as well.

    It seems like as money gets tighter and tighter for so many of us, the plumbers and mechanics are making buckets of money. Buckets!!!! Aargh!

  6. Yes, if you have to go to the garage chances are you'll get screwed over. As was mentioned before make sure you ask to see the "bad parts" I had a dishonest garage tell me they couldn't put my brake parts back on. I said fine ypu pay for my to tow it to another garage then, because you're not doing the work. They managed to get everything back on and the quote at the next garage was $200.00 less.

  7. Hey up Clare, you are bloody lucky not having MOT's. They are a bloody rip-off. I know Brahm ---- I could not believe how much money they are making - £50 / hour. UNBELIEVABLE.

  8. Wow Brent - it's not just me who feels screwed over then. The response had been fairly consistent that people don't trust garages... and your brake incident just proves the point.

  9. Yeah, there's no MOT in the US because as a Federal-mandated intervention, the equivalent was deemed illegal and struck down by the Senate.


    UK main dealers are bleedin' horrid. I used the Vauxhall main dealer out by Oxford Airport for a bulb replacement. While they had my car they gave it a 'visual inspection' which took 45 minutes, and produced a list of defects that would cost a staggering amount of money to put right.

    So I took the car to Autoexpress in Witney who disagreed with half of the list, did the other half and charged me a minute fraction of the price.

    Having said that, Soph's Ford Ka had its MOT and failed on emissions and needed a new Cat - £375!

    Mechanics labour rate includes all of the business overheads, so what you're being charged for in the hour is the NI/PAYE of the member of staff as well as an overhead element of the garage (electricity, rent, rates etc).


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