A second quote saves the day

Happy New Year to all. Right, that’s enough joy; now back to the problems. Garry Gibson, head of operations at Cooper Bros in Wishaw, Lancashire, certainly had a time of it last year.

Last summer a flashing alarm light indicated a problem with a tank probe in a diesel tank.

"As this was under our service contract, we contacted Gilbarco to arrange for an engineer to attend the site," he says.

Garry was told that the service agreement had not been replaced. He assumed this to be an oversight as he had always been sent renewal notifications in the past. "We asked to re-start our service contract and were told that the new contract would not cover the existing problem until rectified which, although hard to accept, was understandable."

The new contract, however, was £700 higher.

He asked for an engineer to attend the site to check the problem with the probe and one did around four days later.

The quote turned out to be £600 plus VAT but he was also advised that it might not sort the problem.

"We then complained that this was not acceptable. We needed a proper final repair quote. August and September passed us by. During this time countless telephone calls and emails to Gilbarco service centre did nothing until we received a cold call asking us why our job remained outstanding." A lengthy discussion ensued and the very next day two experienced Gilbarco engineers turned up.

"We asked when the problem would be sorted, only to be informed that they were only checking the problem to prepare a quote again." As it had been 11 weeks since the problem had been reported at this point, he asked them to have a look at a similar problem with another tank but they refused as they didn’t have a job number. "After around an hour they informed us that the original problem first quoted at approximately £600 had now risen to £1,455 for one tank probe repair.

"After lengthy discussions and complaints to Gilbarco we got absolutely nowhere with the engineers or their regional manager with the exception of an apology for the delay as they had been rather busy. At this point we decided to part company.

"We then asked K9 Forecourt Services, (a local independent forecourt engineering company) to investigate the problem. Within two days the two tanks were repaired at a cost of £270. One probe required a battery and the other probe a new wire; unbelievably a potential saving of over £2,000."

I’m happy to report though that, when Forecourt Trader contacted Gilbarco Veeder-Root, the company did a thorough investigation and put its hands up straight away.

Dave Coombe, managing director, UK & Ireland, says: "At Gilbarco Veeder-Root we pride ourselves on our customer focus and quality offering, taking care at all times to implement procedures that ensure we uphold the highest standards and maintain the highest levels of integrity throughout all areas of our operations. We have reviewed the specific details of Mr Gibson’s complaint and have concluded that, unfortunately on this occasion, our procedures were not followed correctly. One of our regional field managers is now working closely with Mr Gibson to ensure that he does not experience any further issues.

"Whilst we cannot comment on the particular service provided by K9 Forecourt Services, we are keen to ensure that all our solutions remain competitive and we are investigating whether there were any errors with the quotes for repair provided on this occasion.

"Please be assured that this complaint has been taken very seriously and we have offered Mr Gibson our full apologies."

Counting the costs

Laurence Haring wants to share his experience with cashpoint provider, Cashzone, with you.

He had the machine installed at Buncombes Garage in Highbridge, Somerset, a few years ago.

Transactions dropped due to the economic climate and the company reduced his terms from £3,000 to £2,500 per annum. There was a bit of a wrangle. In the end Laurence decided to switch suppliers.

He writes: "This is just a warning for readers who use Cashzone that, when the contract expires, Cashzone does not return the area altered back to its original state; it deemed it viable to replace a glass panel with a metal plate!"

Because he didn’t think the window replacement was to his "reasonable satisfaction" (as specified in the contract) he then pursued the issue of reduced terms with the company.

"I was unable to locate any clause enabling Cashzone to reduce rent. The reason is, there isn’t one!"

So Laurence was due a refund of just under £2,000 which he is sure he would not have received if he hadn’t pushed his case.

And boy, did he push it. He sent me an email trail which added up to 34 pieces of correspondence most of it fairly amicable, but time- consuming to say the least.

Laurence has been in the forecourt business for 16 years and he is also a qualified accountant. This tells me two things: one, he is a tough cookie and two, he understands sums. Clearly it paid off in this case!

And it serves as yet another reminder that getting that magnifying glass out (the one you got in your Christmas cracker) and running it over the contract is always a good idea