Not measuring up

Last summer Khalid Mohammad agreed to purchase a Christ Aquatus Prime C168 car wash with Codax system, including till interface and under-chassis wash for £89,000 plus VAT from Wilcomatic for his Lenton Boulevard Service Station in Nottingham. He also bought year-two and year-three service contracts for £1,800+VAT per annum. The payment terms were a 30% deposit in July, 20% upon delivery and 50% spread over six months in equal instalments.

In October Khalid wrote to me saying that the service he experienced could only be described as abysmal and inept.

He had requested the machine to be set up identical to a friend’s service station, with the same number of programmes, colours and options.

He says: "I chose this particular model as it was highly recommended and described as being the top of the range and the best machine on the market and comparable with the hand car wash finish."

When the machine arrived he immediately noticed that the colours were not as ordered and there were no ’car wash’ stickers on the exit side of the machine.

When it came to commissioning the machine, the track was too short and only small cars could be cleaned properly from the rear. Khalid questions the competency of Wilcomatic staff. Why was the bay not measured properly? He was then instructed to carry out substantial further works. He was asked to break out approx 6ft of concrete outside of the building so that additional tracks could be laid, which meant he had to get more civil works done at very short notice. "The fact that this bay was not measured properly has had a disastrous knock-on effect on me which has resulted in thousands of pounds of extra costs and delays."

It gets worse. "The performance of the machine has also been poor, on the very first day it broke a customer’s rear wiper arm on a ’19 plate Mercedes Vito.

"I have since had complaints regarding the wheels not being cleaned properly despite two engineer visits. I even asked a number of local taxi drivers to test the machine again. The machine didn’t clean the wheels of some cars, marked the rear door of another as the wheel scrubbers came out at the wrong place and damaged another wiper; the drying is also not great.

"I honestly dread selling car wash tokens as I do not know what damage it will cause to a customer’s car or what complaints I will receive.

"I am also concerned by the wastage of water on this machine in particular while wheels are being cleaned. What is the need for so much water to be blasted against the side of the car while wheels are being cleaned?"

There were months of delay in printing this story as Khalid attempted to get a response

"I have continued paying the installments but will withhold the last two until there is a satisfactory conclusion."

We contacted the company and managing director, Kevin Pay, responded: "Our sales team contacted Mr Mohammad in October responding to a number of issues raised, following an onsite meeting after the installation, which was not responded to until January. We have now made contact again and are working to resolve the issues that fell within the scope of our works and in addition have suggested a site meeting to review the areas that we feel fall outside of the scope of the original installation to see where we can assist in gaining a resolution."

Watch out for slick salesmen

When a rep called at John Whittingham’s Bridge Garage in Llanfair Caereinion, Powys, to offer him a cheaper phone and broadband package through BT, at no point did they mention a leasing company.

They rang and told him analogue lines were being discontinued. Then the rep showed up and told him that, instead of the five lines he had, it would all be cloud-based. Good quality lines.

"He was here for an hour, gets an iPad out and says sign here. Then I get an email re my new system. I said I haven’t got a contract. Then they sent it."

That was when he realised he had signed a five-year contract with Shire Leasing at £132 a quarter. That amounts to an extra £10 a week for the equipment.

"I’ve been told you can update from analogue to digital just by buying a new phone. A VoIP system was mentioned." As John says: "I only went for it because they said it was cheaper.