The Grumpy Old Man

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...."Irish" shopping experiences....

....Odd Business practises found when shopping in Ireland....

At the moment I am in the throes of our car's annual health check. Here in Ireland it's called the NCT (National Car Test) and my experiences of securing the proper documentation to get the car through the test has reminded me of a couple of other experiences with the Irish retail industry.

With the NCT, the car passed with a minor piece of mechanical work to be done. Essentially, for its age, the car was not in too bad nick. However, one of the checks that the NCT required to be carried out was verification of the chassis number. It appears that the chassis number is not only on the plate under the bonnet but is also etched into the metalwork of the chassis. The problem was, due to living some fifty or so metres from the sea coupled with the amount of salt applied to the roads in winter, this particular chassis number had over the years just corroded away.

The NCT inspector told me that the solution was for the local main dealer to supply a printout from the engine computer showing the chassis number. The verification form required to be signed by the Gardai (Irish police) supporting the accuracy of the information. Well that's nice and easy you might think and so did I! Oh no, in this day and age nothing is simple. Our main Land Rover dealer since we arrived in Ireland said they had given up the dealership some years ago. Their diagnostic computers had been returned to Land Rover when they gave up the dealership. They still sold spares but when I explained what was needed, they said they couldn't help as the diagnostic computers for our particular model didn't have a printout facility.

The main dealer in Galway, some fifty miles away, suggested that they had experienced the problem before and had photographed the screen output from the diagnostic computer showing the chassis number. I was told that although the job would only take fifteen to twenty minutes they had a minimum booking time of one hour and the job would therefore cost €107.00 plus of course the ubiquitous VAT! What a load of chancers they are. It was a case of don't call me, I'll call you.

The Land Rover dealer in Limerick, some fifty miles in the other direction, said they would be able to supply suitable documentation at a cost of forty to fifty euros. I still thought this a bit steep, but then I was rather over a barrel to get the ticket for the car.

Even negotiating with the Gardai proved problematic. The verification needed to be done by their "PSV Inspector". On contacting our local man, I was told he was out of the office, but then in the afternoon I was told that he had gone home. The following Monday I tried again and was then told he wouldn't be in at all that week! This of course meant that time is ticking away and the thirty days allowed for a re-test was disappearing totally beyond my control. Eventually I managed to contact the appropriate man in Limerick and he agreed to meet me in the afternoon after the job had been done in the Limerick garage. As an aside, I was most amused when he arranged to meet me at the local car breakers yard! I did wonder what in the world was going on having immediate thoughts of Arthur Daley!

The Limerick garage supplied me with a computer printout (source unknown but definitely not from the engine computer), a covering letter and a bill for €52.21. I believed I had made progress and now had documentation allowing the Gardai to sign the form. How naive can you get?

I arrived at the car breakers yard and must confess I was very pleasantly surprised to find that there was a nice new office building and a well tarmaced area. Certainly not the wet, soggy field I was used to. The PSV Inspector took one look at the paperwork supplied by the garage and said that it was no good at all. However he admitted that he was able to ascertain the chassis number from elsewhere on the car and this would be perfectly adequate for him to sign the form.

Now that I had managed to get the form signed I was volcanic as I had paid out over fifty euros for nothing. What made me cross was that the garage should have known the documentation was useless and if they didn't know what was required they should have been man enough to say so and not come up with some Mickey Mouse solution charging me over fifty euros for the privilege.

Taking a step back I regarded the whole episode as "sharp practice" as I was conned out of fifty euros for something that was "not fit for purpose" and the garage should have known that.

The whole sorry tale actually reminded me of something that happened a few years previously. At the time our television, normally one to give us most excellent service, had developed a minor fault. As we had planned to be away for three weeks visiting relatives in the states I contacted the local "television man" who operates out of a small coastal town in County Clare. He assured me that he would be able to fix the television, and I had no reason not to believe him.

The day before we left for our holiday I left the television with him and he confirmed that it would be fixed when we got back. He then asked for a "fifty euro deposit". He said this was because he had been left with televisions in the past when people didn't bother to return to pick them up. At the time that all seemed quite reasonable to me.

On our return, I contacted the dealer and he said that the television was not ready yet. Eventually after a few more weeks of this, I got fed up and went to see him. He claimed he was waiting for a circuit diagram for the television, which, between you and me, was a load of hogwash. I was so cross that I said I would take the television away and he could bill me for the work done so far. He seemed more than happy with this. The outstanding account was twenty-nine euros. Fine, says me I'll take the change. I couldn't believe my ears when he said there wasn't any. No matter how I argued that he was charging me fifty euros for a twenty nine euro account he was totally implacable, not only that, he couldn't see anything wrong with it! For my part, as they say, never has my gob been more smacked!

As a matter of interest, I did get the television fixed. As I thought, a circuit diagram would only be useful to him as toilet paper as the specialist repair shop that dealt with this make of television admitted that the set, being (for its time) an extremely advanced, computer-controlled device needed specialist test gear for fault diagnosis. After finding and replacing the faulty chip, the test gear guided him through hundred and twenty electrical setups that brought the performance of the television back up to full specification. Once again there was no way the bloke down the coast could have successfully repaired this particular television. He should have been man enough to say so and I could have saved myself valuable time and money. I may even have done business with him again. Once again, colloquially speaking "No Way José"

But what a way to do business? There seems to be a predilection for telling the customer "what (the vendor thinks) he wants to hear", when all the customer wants to hear is "the way it is" warts and all. People seem incapable of admitting either that they don't know something or admitting they are incapable of doing it.

I really do despair sometimes!

As an aside, I have written complaining but feel that this episode has much more to run, keep visiting the site and I will tell you how I resolved the sitution to MY satisfaction!

Finally on a lighter note for readers who are curious as to why I met the Gardai at the breakers yard, it was apparent that the yard was used as the local "car pound" where Gardai stored towed or accident damaged vehicles. This must have been a fairly regular occurrence as the Gardai had a 'Towing Fee Payment Office' as part of the site complex! It may seem a little "Irish" but if one takes a step back, there is a certain amount of obtuse logic behind it!

So, how does this sorry tale end you may ask, to find out follow the link below;

Irish shopping experiences continued

The trials and tribulations attached to a Small Claims Court action in Ireland

I'm now in a position to complete the tale surrounding my experiences with the Land Rover garage, Lyons of Limerick.

You may recall that I requested Lyons of Limerick to provide me with a hardcopy print of information stored within the "engine control computer" of my Land Rover. I believe they were extremely guilty of sharp practice in charging €50.00 for the supply of documentation that transpired to be totally and utterly useless and unfit for purpose. Or to put it bluntly, not even fit for use as loo paper as it was extremely rough when crumpled.

I am not normally a malicious person nor do I get angry very easily. But I do react with anger when I feel I've been taken advantage of or treated badly through either bad workmanship or sharp business practice. Lyons of Limerick are one such case and to add insult to injury they totally ignored all subsequent communications more.....