#VanLife: Blog #017 A lesson in how not to do customer service, Iveco Style

February 26, 2018  •  2 Comments

When we bought the van last year, there were a few niggles that weren't major issues, but I'm a little OCD when it comes to having everything working as it should. If it has a function, that function should operate as it was originally intended in my view, if not, then lets fix them. It's just how my mind works and I make no apology for it.

The list of those niggles were:

  • Fuel Gauge Sensor - Put more than 30 litres in to the 60 litre tank, it shows it as being full.
  • Side Running Lights - The side door light didn't work at all, and the rear drivers side worked when it felt like it.
  • Side Door - This wasn't fully closing, and had a large visible gap at the top of the door letting in water when it rained.
  • Interior Heater Control Unit - The dashboard selector had only two settings left, then one, and then in the heart of winter, nothing.

New faults:

  • The Door Locking Sensors - The dashboard displayed that a door is open, also activating the interior cab light, when all doors are shut.
  • Handbrake Sensor - Shows up as being applied on the dashboard, even when it's not.

The plan was to get an idea of how much these things would cost and break it down into the quick wins based on the budget. Based on what I'd listed, they said Wednesday would be the best day to book it in. I dropped the van down to them on the Tuesday evening cause, well, work reasons.

Wednesday afternoon I followed up with a call to get an idea as to prices, only to be told that someone would ring me back, they didn't. I was still looking for an estimate of works.

Thursday I rang again, to be told that nobody would be able to get a look at it that day and I should ring back on Friday. I'm not even sure why they even book vehicles in to be honest!

Friday. Still no clue what's going on. I ring again, twice in fact, only to be told someone would ring me. I needed the van back as I need to make some trips in it that evening, so I said I'd just come and collect it instead at the end of the day.

When I get there, they gave me a limp apology that nothing had been done other than the side lights, the reasons being that they were busy, understaffed due to sickness and, well, they just didn't get round to it. Three fecking days wasted. I asked what was the likely estimate to be, and was told they still didn't have that worked out yet. But, they had fixed the Side Running Lights. Now, when they say "fixed" what they really mean is, replaced with new ones. Nothing wrong with the old ones, just a cabling fault, possibly a contact point issue on the sliding door. But no, their solution is simply swap it out, new for old, like some sort of insurance policy.

The main issue I have with this scenario is; they're probably used to dealing with only commercial operators of HGV's etc, where every invoice is picked up by the company accountant or written off as a business expense, tax deductible. However, I'm not a business that has that sort of cashflow to pick up big hits like this, I have to be cautious. So, as I'm sure you can imagine, I'm starting to panic a little here.

I ask what parts might it need, there must have been some sort of investigation at least? I was then told that the fuel sensor was on order costing £170'ish, and that the handbrake cable needed replaced, not sure why, cause it was fine doing handbrake cable stuff when I dropped it off? The list, that I initially reported was now lost apparently, so again, I had to repeat it to make sure nothing was left off, and again, asked for a breakdown of what the costs might be. I was told they'd let me know on Monday and that they'd make arrangements following that.

The van was at the rear of the premises in Claudy. I was told it was 'road worthy' if I wanted to take it away, which was when I noticed the new  light fittings, which look feck all like the old existing ones as the design has changed completely.

Warning: It gets a little Sweary Mary from here on in.

When I jumped in and started the van, I quickly noticed I didn't have a functioning handbrake. I might have missed that part of the conversation due to the descending red mist, I knew I needed one (apparently), but I'm sure he never said that they'd ripped the existing one out. So, in I goes again to have a word, to be told, that's what he meant, it needed a new handbrake cable, confused, and ready to kill dead things, I felt it best to just leave and consider my options. They said they'd ring me on Monday with the prices so I'll take it from there.

Monday comes, no phone call, I'm not even surprised anymore. I'm conscious that there's been no call but I'm too busy at work to do anything about it and forget to chase it again myself. You know what it's like sometimes right?

Tuesday. I make a phone call, because, lets be honest here, tradition dictates that they're not going to bother their arses! Customer service is simply not their thing.

I ask what are the prices likely to be for the parts and the work, to which they say they need to get it in again to work out, could I bring it in again for Thursday? Absolutely defeated, I submit.

Wednesday evening, as before, I drop it round because, well, I've work to do during the day and I can't take it to work to then leave down, because I've no handbrake suitable for street parking, and the side door doesn't even shut, because they've said it needs a hinge (how much that is, I have no clue) and in their investigations, it would seem they've broken the existing one even further. When I do leave it down, I wait in the cold and dilapidated servicing reception until someone can tell me what the fuck is going on (sense the anger yet?). There's not even a seat to sit on.

The list it would seem, is no where to be found! I get them to write it down, telling them that I want a list of the pricing so I know what's going on! The side lights are £14 each apparently, they told me that much, I don't know how much the handbrake cable is, and it seems beyond them to give me that price either,  I already know about the fuel gauge sensor (still not happy about that). So, in my mind, as they've fecked me about for two weeks, they'll at least have the decency to go light on the labour, at which, the servicing guys says "we won't be hard on you now" - Whatever the fuck that means? I'm thinking, maybe in the £300's for the repairs, possibly £400. I've the money sitting. It's tight, but I have it. I've said to them that I won't be down Thursday evening, as I can't get to them after work, it's just too far/complicated (it's not on my normal route home, and the wife's too busy anyway with her work to scoot me down), I'll plan on it Friday morning cause I'm off then anyway, and we'll see where we're at. All agreed, or at least I thought so.

Thursday. I don't get any calls, but that's okay, I did say I'd come down and collect it on Friday, so we'll chat then.

Friday. I leave a message to say to give me a ring, but hear nothing back (par for the course), and my Friday morning has gone a bit off plan, so I'm in no rush, next week will do.

I finally get a call back, I'm on another call, so return it just as soon as I can.

"Hi, it's *name* - We're just waiting on a part for the heater control switch, we think its either the resistor or the motor" It's not the blower motor I tell them, that works fine, it's the actual selector on the dashboard that's not working, so we'll call that a resistor fault. I then ask (at just after 1 pm) how much is all this gonna cost, so that we can work out a schedule?

*name* "Not sure, I'll give you a call back in 20 minutes.

Two hours later I get a call. *Name* "Everything else is done, but we're just waiting on that resistor part which won't be here till after 3pm and we'll not have time to fit it so is tomorrow okay?"


Me: "Sorry, what do you mean everything else is done? What's done? How much is this costing?"

*Name*: "The bill comes to £987, all in"

Me: "I was asking for a price for the work! I've been asking for a price for the work since I booked the van in! Are you fucking serious? A grand! A fucking GRAND!"

*Name* "Well, you asked us to repair the vehicle, which is what we've done, repaired it."

If I'd had been hit with gammer rays in my past, I'd have turned green moments ago and would be leaping tall buildings right at that very second.

Now, in my entire experience with working with garages, they always ring you with an estimate of works/parts and ask if you'd like to go ahead with the repairs. My previous car mechanic was sound, he operated pretty much that same way too, but he had the common sense to just go ahead if he thought that the wasn't going to be too tough on the wallet, my repairs typically ran to less that £150, anything a bit more, he'd give me a call. This however, was a grands worth! I've bought cars (lots of them) for less.

I think in the conversation that followed he grasped my immediate displeasure with the whole situation and reduced it by paltry £137, I guess this is what it feels like when they're not too "hard on you". I still felt like I'd been assaulted though, robbed in someway.

I posted a just over a year ago about how customer service here in Northern Ireland is absolutely shocking. That the way businesses treat their customers with absolute distain is nearly epidemic in nature. I would wager that there are more companies providing poor customer service than there are those offering good.

Whether they feel they're in the right over this is irrelevant in my opinion. This was not what I asked for, this was not what I was expecting from an approved Iveco Dealer (amongst other brands they cater for) and this is not how you handle customer service at any level.

I'll be picking up the van on Monday (if they have it ready) because it would seem that they weren't fully confident that they'd even got to everything on the list, as they couldn't remember (not surprised in the slightest). Will I be back? Not on your Nelly. I have a mechanic who deals with most of the heavy stuff very local to me, but as some of the faults were of an electrical nature, in this case, they just weren't his bag, so in my naivety I thought I'd give the main players a turn, as I'd heard good reports about them from the previous van owner.

How wrong I was. How very wrong indeed.


Darron Mark Photography
Update: Still nothing has progressed. No replacement parts have arrived, no phone calls to say there has been a delay. As usual, it's all down to me to do the chasing.

Also, that fault I had with the handbrake being applied warning light, even when it wasn't, yeah, they didn't fix that either!
Darron Mark Photography
Update: I picked up the van this afternoon. The tank was empty though I'm pretty sure it had a bit more fuel in than 'nothing' when I left it off, maybe they had to drain it, I don't know. At least the gauge seemed to be accurate on that level. Nearest garage is a good 10 miles away, so it was a bit dicey, but I made it.

The battery was dead, so the service guy had to bump it to get it going. I'll put that down to them working on the electrics and it being really really cold right now.

I was told everything was sorted and they'd even reduced the bill by a further £100 to a total of £750 (my credit card was going to have to take the strain on this), which sort of took a little bit of sting out of the whipping I'd got the previous week.

Sadly however, the door open indicator was still showing a fault. The heater control unit didn't work, then did work for a bit, then stopped working, then worked on some of the settings, then nothing at all. We're expecting blizzards and snow under the guise of 'The Beast from the East' this weekend, so I hope their promise of a new control unit (which was what I suspected to be faulty in the first place) to be ordered and fitted for free, arrives this week!

All in, this has not been a great experience, not in the slightest. You sort of get a measure of the place when you come in to the service area. I suspect it's more geared towards hauliers and farmers, not office based professionals who have day jobs doing a 9 to 5 and working evenings and weekends in the creative media.

I'll update this again once they've fixed the things they fixed without me knowing they'd gone a head and (not) fixed them.
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