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Dealer anger as AA disputes quality of work

Disgruntled retailers have accused the AA’s roadside recovery agents of carrying out inaccurate assessments on their customers’ cars.

Complaints about alleged misdiagnosed breakdown reports have led to calls by dealers for better training for the recovery specialists.

John Chamberlain, owner of Ford retailer Brookside Garage in Anglesey, North Wales, has fired off a letter of complaint to the AA after one of its roadside engineers claimed in his report that an anti-roll bar link failure was due to a “badly fitted” drop link arm installed by the dealership.

“His report claimed that the ball had been chiselled and hammered into place,” Chamberlain says.

“But what actually happened was the top ball joint had separated and the link had come into contact with the wheel, which caused the damage. It was the link that had failed; it wasn’t down to poor workmanship.

“It was obvious – any trained technician would have spotted it straight away – but the AA didn’t do a proper assessment.”

The AA says that it cannot give a 100% guarantee that its diagnosis will be correct.

“The patrols don’t have every piece of kit that a dedicated garage would have or the luxury of time,” says Gavin Hill Smith, AA spokesman. “But we do our utmost to give members as accurate diagnosis as possible.

“If dealers have a problem, we would encourage them to contact us.”

Chamberlain’s experience is not unique. A number of dealers have contacted AM to complain about what one called “the arrogant attitude” of AA recovery engineers.

Another dealer, who asked not to be named, says: “The AA needs to re-educate its employees to not make off the cuff judgments without due care and attention and proper assessment. Their ad lib comments are not acceptable and are damaging to the dealership and bad for customers’ confidence.”

The AA says all its patrols are trained to the highest level and that it is one of the pioneers of the ATA roadside assistance scheme, which was launched in February.

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