Friday, 29 January 2010

Email to Servicing Stop

* * * * * * *

Following this week's shock revelation from Cass, Deborah Meaden's PR, that Ms Meaden did not, after all, invest £100K in Servicing Stop, and has no connection whatsoever with the company, I have emailed them as follows:
Dear Sirs,

I have been advised by Deborah Meaden's PR, on behalf of Ms Meaden, that Ms Meaden did not invest in Servicing Stop following the appearance of Messrs Richmond on Dragons' Den last year.

I would be grateful if you would confirm this. Assuming I have been correctly advised, please could you explain why your website fails to mention this important detail and uses the phrase "Servicing Stop success on Dragon's [sic] Den". Is this not highly misleading when the claimed 'success' consists of a Dragon failing to invest in your company?

In addition, I note that every month for the last six months your website has advertised "save 10% on all service prices in X month". As this so-called offer is continuous, it's not a genuine saving. Again, I consider this to be misleading to consumers.

I look forward to receiving your comments.

Yours faithfully etc
Click here for all posts on Servicing Stop.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Deborah Meaden and Servicing Stop

Lovely photo by John Swannel

* * * * * * *
People can call me what they like - fat, ugly, sour - but tell me I'm not fair, tell me I'm not ethical, those are the things that bother me.
Deborah Meaden, Interview in The Guardian, 22 November 2007
I actually rather like Deborah Meaden. I don't think she's fat, ugly or sour etc. And she likes animals so she must be okay. Anyway, I've sent an email via her website - which will no doubt end up in a junior PR's inbox - asking her to comment on Servicing Stop's appalling customer service. With £100K invested in the Richmond brothers' venture, one hopes she might take an interest, if, that is, Davinia forwards my enquiry on to her.

Click here for all posts on Servicing Stop.

Update: Ms Meaden's PR, Cass, has responded to my enquiry, as can be seen from the comments on this post and on other Servicing Stop posts. Cass has confirmed that Deborah Meaden did not, in fact, proceed with investing in Servicing Stop.

Servicing Stop's website does not mention this, however. It's still using Dragons' Den's name prominently on their home page and many other pages.

So now I'm going to ask Servicing Stop why they are misleading customers by failing to state that Deborah Meaden did not invest in the company. I think I'll also try reporting to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The aesthetics of Wandsworth Borough Council

* * * * *

This is Wandsworth Housing Department in Garratt Lane, SW18, a sadly typical example of British brutalist architecture in the latter half of the twentieth century: seemingly purpose-built to induce feelings of worthlessness and alienation. And the busy hand of municipality is everywhere. Scroll around Google street view and observe the wealth of road markings and ugly street furniture; is it really necessary to mark the part of the road in which a bus must stop in red tarmac and giant yellow letters? Councils have destroyed the urban landscape with all this crap, almost all of it utterly redundant.

Compare the facade of the Housing Department with the 1930s municipal buildings up the road, designed by Edward A. Hunt. This isn't the main frontage, just a side entrance; nor is it a shining example of Art Deco architecture, however, it is a world apart in its proportions and in its use of materials and ornament.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Servicing Stop reviews

* * * * * * *

I've received some interesting feedback to my post in September 2009 regarding the terrible customer service at Servicing Stop Ltd. What's particularly striking is that, taken together with comments posted on another blog (link below), there seems to be a pattern of telling customers that numerous extras are required. I omitted to say in my original post (because it then seemed irrelevant) that, in addition to the full service, I was told I needed: 1) anti-freeze flush, 2) brake fluid flush, 3) change of front brake pads. I was also advised to change the front wiper blades, but refused. These extras added another £212.69 to my bill; the total for a full service, MOT, plus the extras came to a whopping £430.79 (all prices inc VAT). I still feel bad about it; it's the classic naive female car-owner's experience I'd been so anxious to avoid.

Compare this with what happened to Joe Lee, who says,
I too had a bad experience with them. I sent my Lexus for an interim cost £100 less than what Lexus normally charge. While my car was with them, they called and told me my coolant needs a flush & top up, the same with my brake fluid, my wiper needs changing, my brake pads need to change and the same with my tyres.
Sound familiar? Joe was smarter than me, though.
I began to suspect a con as I had just changed my wipers a month ago. I told them to just change the brake pads but I wanted the old brake pads left in the boot. They then told me the brake pads can still last a few months and I could change it later.
When Joe got the car back, he found the engine oil was 3cm above the maximum level. He sent the car to Lexus a few days later, who confirmed the oil was overfilled, and that there were no problems with the coolant, brake pads, tyres, etc...

Then there's Abdullah, who writes
A normal full service of about £200 ended up being £462 and they changed the air filter, pollen filter, fuel filter, flushed brake fluids, all of which were probably not required for my 2006 Astra, which never gave me problems and always drove well. After the service I had the engine light come on and loss of power. I called Servicing Stop who have appalling customer service. They seem nice initially...then never keep their promises of calling back in half an hour. When chasing up, they claim to have called and 'left a message' - do they take people as idiots by lying?
He concludes
Servicing Stop will claim to save you money but you will end up paying more and then having your car spoilt at the same time.
And it's the same story from Michelle, who discovered that
A £160 bargain service turned out to need £500 worth of work, including the timing belt which apparently was going to snap any day...The customer service was shit - they never phone back when they say, and say they have left voicemails (on where I don't know).
Over at, a post about Servicing Stop has accumulated a number of similar comments from people being charged a fortune for extras, as well as one person whose Jaguar's engine exploded after being overfilled with oil.

There's also an enlightening comment from an independent garage, 'ferryman', who says
I have recently read the criteria for joining them as an authorised repairer and can only say that I am amazed that any garage has been desperate enough to join up...By my calculations [Servicing Stop] will make over £100 for a full service on an average family car, for a few minutes admin. The garage accepts all the liabilities and is not supported in any other way by Servicing Stop. My advice to any potential victims is to contact local garages that are part of the Good Garage Scheme.
I intend to contact Dragons' Den investor Deborah Meaden to ask for a response. I will post again when (and if) I hear back from her.

Click here to see all posts on Servicing Stop.