RUTH MACKAY tells us why supporting local business is so important

You can imagine my stunned response when, on discovering a two inch crack in my car windscreen, I contacted Autoglass to fix the problem, only to be told they had no glass.

What followed was one of the most farcical and unbelievable stories of how a national company with the largest share of the marketplace, continually failed to fix my windscreen despite their website saying they will repair or replace your windscreen at a place and time of your convenience.

The whole sorry tale started more than six weeks ago when, after my initial phone call when I was informed that Autoglass had no glass, I was duly booked in for an appointment five weeks later. In that time, unsurprisingly, the small crack grew from 2 inches to a 3 feet fissure that spread right across my windscreen.

I phoned a further twice to report this and try to expedite the repair date, but was reassured that the glass would not shatter and was perfectly safe – in direct contradiction to the recorded messages on their own phone queuing announcements, which repeatedly warned about the importance of having your windscreen repaired quickly for your safety.

Eventually, the appointment day arrives and, after all this time,  I still only have an appointment slot of five hours between 12 noon and 5pm.

I duly rearranged my working day to accommodate this, only to find that no one turned up.

No phone call – nothing.

I phoned Autoglass who said they would need to speak to the dispatch team to find out why no one had turned up to fix my car. They assured me that my file had been marked as urgent and said someone from customer services would call me.

Guess what – 2 days later, no contact from Autoglass.

Finally, on Sunday I received a call from Autoglass cheerfully inviting me to rebook my appointment. When I once again asked why nobody had come to the last appointment, they responded by saying they didn’t have access to that information – i.e. computer says no.

As my frustration built, I was eventually put through to the Autoglass dispatch team who informed me that nobody had attended because……wait for it: when they received my windscreen from the manufacturer it was cracked!

The operator of the phone showed great surprise that no one had called me that morning to tell me they were unable to attend the appointment as a consequence, but they could not actually do anything to help.

So we move on to the next available appointment – in June, – three months from when I first reported my cracked windscreen!

When I requested a courtesy car in the meantime and compensation I was transferred back to customer services where Colin, a very sympathetic man, listened to my whole story again, said that he had taken all the information and would let customer services know.

“So who are you Colin? I thought you were customer services?” I asked. His response, “No, we’re just covering for customer services because they don’t work on a Sunday”.

You couldn’t make this up.

Dreadful level of service – yes. Badly organised and managed situation – absolutely.

But ultimately as a customer, it is clear they frankly couldn’t care less about my car or my safety. If only I was able to go to my local garage who are keen to keep my business and build a relationship with me so I keep coming back to them.

Autoglass are able to hold customers like me to ransom, because we have to use them at the insistence of our insurance companies.

And they are not the only ones. Banks and energy companies are just two other examples of industries monopolised by two or three national companies who know they have so much power in the market place that their customers have little or no choice about where and who they buy from.

Who loses out? We do. The customer.

Support your local businesses and buy from people who genuinely appreciate and need your business. We only have ourselves to blame when we leave ourselves no choice but to buy from these large, faceless companies who will hold us to ransom.

And my windscreen?

As I write this article I’m still waiting for both another call back from customer services – and for my windscreen to be fixed.




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