The AA breakdown service
Is the AA's breakdown service regulated by any organisation?? Their website proudly boasts that they are regulated by the FCA but this does not cover their breakdown service. They made some spectacular mistakes with my breakdown but nobody seems to cover these issues. Not the FCA or the Financial ombudsman. Here's my details: On 14 April 2014 my car broke down and I called the AA. The patrolman arrived and checked the car over. He had a quick look under the bonnet and took a short test drive in the car which was juddering with a sucking back noise when under acceleration. I explained that there was a sudden loud popping noise and the car lost all power at that point and began to judder under acceleration. I also told him that nine months ago, I’d had a new gearbox, turbo and EGR valve fitted and he said it could be any of those three things and it should be towed to a garage of my choice for diagnosis and repair. As I have the car maintained at Marshall’s Jaguar in Lincoln it was taken there (4 hours later on a Gallows Wood recovery vehicle). When the Jaguar technicians checked the car, all that had happened was a hose had come off the intercooler when the clip had rusted through. This was the only fault. They reconnected the hose and put a new clip on and everything worked fine again, which took just five minutes. However, being a Jaguar main dealer, they always carry out computer diagnostics before and after as a matter of professional standard procedure and the resulting bill was £267.13. When I was on the phone to the Jaguar workshop the day before they received the car, I explained the loud popping noise and immediately said it sounds like the intercooler hose had come off… and they were correct! The AA promises that if it is technically possible to mend a car at the roadside, that is what they will do. My complaint is that it could have been repaired at the roadside (as confirmed by the Jaguar garage) but they failed in this instance. This was not just misdiagnosis, but a failure to carry out basic inspection checks. I was also left without the car for a week and had to pay transport costs to get to pick the car up from Lincoln. I wrote to the AA and in their reply I received, referring to their patrolmen, they say: “They have to work without the advantage of a well-lit, comfortable workshop and sometimes, even the simplest of jobs can be hazardous when attempted at the side of a busy road.” This is just an excuse. Firstly, the diagnosis was wrong and the fault was never attempted. Secondly, at the time of the breakdown, it was broad daylight and the sun was beaming down. Thirdly, there was an empty car park to a dog-walking field exactly opposite where the car could have been driven (or pushed) in order to carry out a proper inspection in complete safety. Further, the patrolman never used the ‘onboard computer’ that the AA proudly boast about in their adverts. This would have diagnosed the fault. Furthermore, the AA say that the patrolman was unable to find anything ‘obvious’. The Jaguar garage told me this is a common fault in cars of this type one of the first things to check considering the symptoms and if the AA patrolman had simply looked underneath the car at the front, he would have seen that the hose had come off the intercooler. The AA then state that any work the patrolman might have done could have voided the warranty on the parts I’d had fitted nine months ago at the Jaguar garage. This could never have happened as the fault and its simple repair would be nothing to do with these parts. It was a simple, clearly visible fault that could have been repaired at the roadside within five to ten minutes. Even furthermore, to confirm the fact that mistakes were made and not just misdiagnosis, I was travelling in a friend’s car the other day which broke down and also being an AA member, he called them out. When the AA patrolman arrived, he was very professional and quickly diagnosed a faulty gearbox meaning we had to be towed back home. While in the AA van, I gave the AA patrol man the exact symptoms that happened to my car and straight away he said “sounds like a hose had come off the intercooler or something like that” … and he was exactly right!! This is a serious and sensible complaint and would be very grateful for your opinion on the matter.
You've been given a lot of flannel for a fault even I have spotted (on the launch road test of the 2003 SAAB 9-3, actually). But neither the AA, nor I, nor any mechanic could 100% guarantee to spot any fault every single time, and that's what they should have told you, with an apology, instead of a bunch of garbage excuses. They do get it right most of the time and do save drivers a lot of money. As a gesture, I think they should refund you a year's premium.
Answered by Honest John on