In mid-April we noticed our car was experiencing misfiring problems whilst attempting to accelerate on the motorway. Since we live in a small village we thought we’d offer our business to the local car mechanics at Iwade Garage (Located 36 Ferry Road, Iwade, Sittingbourne) but have since lived to regret such a decision.
Anyone who owns a vehicle and uses it on a regular basis will understand what a stressful situation it can be when their vehicle is in the garage for a day or two, but can you imagine how it felt after 8 weeks? Despair would be a good adjective for one. It has to be said that the entire situation has bordered on insanity, on our part for not realising soon enough that this was turning into a disaster and we were being given the run-around, and on the part of Iwade Garage for continually changing their story and ultimately for their dishonesty.
When we first took the car in we explained to the then owner, Jamie Dicker that the car was misfiring when attempting to accelerate (which from our research is a common issue with our make and model of vehicle) and said to be an ECU problem, which Jamie Dicker also confirmed he was aware of). We also asked for the rear right hand passenger window motor to be repaired, and the front windscreen wiper motor fixed/replaced due to being faulty.
Following a short test drive, Jamie Dicker agreed there was a misfiring problem but he noted that there was no warning light on, which was a good sign. He asked us to return the following day when he’d do a full diagnostic and provide us with a quote. That quote ended up being £460.00 which we agreed to, plus £42 for the diagnostic, the latter of which was paid via credit card immediately. Another gentleman was present at that time, later known to us as Sam Hakki, and he wrote down repair details. We scheduled the repair for the following week.
We dropped the car off at Iwade Garage the following week, and for the next approximately 8 weeks our poor vehicle remained at that location. Initially we were kept abreast of the repair situation but it became clear to us very quickly that the mechanics at the garage could not work out what the problem with the engine warning light was (This had come on after the diagnostic). We were now feeling we’d made an unwise decision to have Iwade Garage take care of the repair but the car now was completely unroadworthy and we had no option but to wait for them to complete the job.
Don’t blame me…
Trying to get somebody from the garage to call us back was constantly an issue and getting a straight story, it was a different story every time – the wrong parts had been sent, not once, not twice, but three times; would we mind paying for ‘his guy’ to go pick up another part since they were so delayed with the repair of the car? Next, a different part was required, the list went on and on, and they had the nerve to blame a local recognised car company for not doing their job – in hindsight it seems to be the reverse!
Some weeks passed and still no car. When we called the garage to follow-up we were told Jamie Dicker no longer ran the garage and had now leased it to Sam, Jamie was now running used car sales from the same location. We were told that Sam Hakki would be handling our repair. Sam then assured us he would do everything in his power to have the car completely fixed by the following Thursday. Music to our ears, however, Sam Hakki was not true to his word. We’d dealt with Sam prior to Jamie’s departure but weren’t prepared for the fiasco that was about to unfold – Things seemed to go from bad to worse.
It’s his fault…
On several occasions Sam advised us he was taking the car to a major car dealership for a special diagnostic equipment that could diagnose the exact problem with the car but somehow this never happened (According to Sam the diagnostic equipment Jamie Dicker used was faulty). A specialist mechanic with diagnostic equipment was scheduled for a particular day, he’d be able to get to the bottom of the issue – he never showed up. At one point Sam asked us to come down to check out the car and drive it for the weekend as they had fixed the main problem, however, as soon as we started up the engine the car began shuddering violently – clearly the repair had not been done. Sam apologised and said he’d take care of it.
Sudden Price Increase
Another few weeks of back and forth via telephone, though often Sam would not return calls, and if he did he’d give a completely different diagnosis from the previous call, as if he didn’t remember what he’d previously told us.
We now began to become concerned about the financial implications of the many parts Sam felt needed to be replaced. Sam Hakki requested payment of £500 cash, otherwise they wouldn’t do any more work on the car since he’d ‘already spent so much time and money on it’. The quote for the repair was now between £900 and £1400 plus VAT! We paid the £500 cash and received a hand written receipt from Sam – to date we have still not received a list detailing the parts that were repaired or replaced!
This had become a highly stressful experience – we’d been without the car for almost 2 months. Toward the end of this awful saga an entire week went by without hearing a word from Sam. Eventually we got Sam on the line at which time he apologised for his lack of communication stating that they’d stripped the car right down and were working on getting it all back together. That Friday Sam called to say the car was running great but that the warning light was still on. However, he’d like us to do a test drive with him. During that drive he spent the entire time saying/asking ‘doesn’t the engine sound better’? We agreed with him but mentioned that this never was the original issue, just the misfiring! At this time he again stated that he’d booked the car in with another main dealership and specialist so they could work out the issue of the warning light and ECU.
“Things are going to get dangerous” – threats from Iwade Garage
Sam returned to Iwade Garage with our car to complete the repair. The promised specialist diagnostic was never done the following week which finally lead to a heated argument. We advised Sam that we would be writing a review about the garage and how we’d been mistreated. To this we received verbal threats from Sam advising that ‘things could get very dangerous for you’ if we wrote a review about Iwade Garage and our experiences with him. Eventually we both calmed down – I told him I just wanted to get my car back, warning light on or not! Sam advised the car is completely fixed except for warning light. We agreed to pick the car up the following morning. Sam confirmed he’d write up a detailed receipt including VAT information and stated the bill would need to be paid in cash since they no longer had a credit card machine. That was not our preference but as long as we received an itemised receipt and VAT information for the job we were OK with it. The following morning at 9:00 am we called as arranged to confirm Sam was ready with the receipt. He asked if we could give him until 10:30am. We did but still he wasn’t ready for us. When Sam finally called back he spoke to my wife, and became abusive to her. I eventually just went down to the garage to sort things out once and for all. I was livid but tried to remain calm, however it was pretty impossible for the two of us to have a civil conversation. Sam had lied to us too many times, and the insult to my wife was too much. I asked for the itemised receipt and VAT number, then I’d pay and be on my way. Sam refused to produce an itemised bill stating he didn’t have to? Sam then began to threaten me stating that I should watch myself!!! I noticed the CCTV camera in the office and felt that would be useful later on? At this point I became concerned for my safety so called the police.
Police Intervention at Iwade Garage
A policeman arrived and as he approached, Sam walked forward stating, ‘thank god you are here’. The policeman asked if it was he who had called the police. I clarified it was me, and then was asked to explain the entire debacle. When asked why Iwade Garage would not produce an itemised receipt and VAT number, again Sam responded that he didn’t have to. He stated he wanted £1400 plus VAT but was not willing to provide the VAT number? I made it clear that I didn’t want to leave the premises without a VAT receipt if I was to pay the full £1680.00. However, Sam would not allow us to have our car if we didn’t pay. I was again stuck. The policeman suggested he write out a bill of sale, stating we paid £1680 for repairs and parts plus VAT, and Sam agreed within 7 days to send a full itemised bill with VAT number to our home address. Both parties signed the paper, a copy of which we have. The policeman advised us not to return to the garage – if we wanted to contact Sam then we should do so through a solicitor. Which we agreed would be the safest form of action. We took our keys and drove off, with the warning light still showing. Also, the navigation was now not working but I reset the system at home and moved a few cables that had been hanging down and the engine warning light was no longer illuminated!!! However, the right hand side rear passenger window had not be fixed, nor had the front windscreen wipers, the car is also still misfiring. What in fact did we pay our £1680.00 – you’re guess is as good as ours – we have still not received the itemised bill, or VAT no. We have been advised by Kent Police that they are aware of the situation and that threats have been made if this article is published.
Reporting to Trading Standards
We contacted the Kent Citizens Advice who reported the issue to the Trading Standards giving us a reference number to follow up with. We have since spoken to the Kent Trading Standards to get a comment from them, they state they are following up the report. In addition to our disastrous experience with Iwade Garage it seems other villagers have suffered at the hands of these dishonest business owners. One would think an MOT, service and brake job would take just a few days, but no. One poor individual had their car in the shop for over 9 weeks only the have their brakes fail on them just 3 weeks later. It turns out, after visits to 3 other garages that the parts used by Iwade Garage were second hand and faulty. That the repairs were done using incorrect tools, and one component didn’t even belong to that particular vehicle. As with us, this person also received threats from Iwade Garage. So, if you value your life, as well as your car, we suggest you stay well clear of businesses like Iwade Garage. It’s a sad situation on many levels for our initial intention was to give a local business owner the chance to shine. Imagine the custom that business would receive with a great review from a local, however, that’s just not the case here. There is little that can be said to inspire others to services offered at this garage.
A Lesson Learned – What’s our advice? Avoid Iwade Garage and go to the professionals. You may be paying a little more for the service but you’ll get the job done in a timely manner by a pleasant and knowledgeable team of individuals.