The scene: our daughter bought us an inexpensive SatNav system for use on holidays abroad. Both of our cars in the UK have in-car, manufacturer-fitted SatNav systems already, but we needed one for use in hire cars when on holiday. We had previously used our daughter's (the exact same model) for just such a purpose and had found it very useful and simple to use, so were delighted when she bought us one as a gift.
The start: on our way to Heathrow we switched on the unit for the first time to refamiliarise ourselves with how to use it whilst still on home territory, rather than trying it for the first time in Rome! Unfortunately, the message came up that it could not connect to satellites and we could not get any further than a blank screen. When we reached our airport hotel we tried to contact Garmin, but it was understandably too late at night by then for customer services to be operating. In the morning, we hit the airport extremely early to try and find an "expert" in one of the terminal retail shops. This we did, only to be told, as expected, that this was a faulty unit. We had no choice but to buy a new unit (which worked perfectly) as we only had about an hour left before departure, and we resolved to return the faulty unit to Halfords for a refund upon our return from holiday.
The Beginning: when we returned from holiday, we took the faulty unit to Halfords, where the assistant spent some time (including 15 minutes in our car) trying to make the unit work, before agreeing it was faulty. He contacted Garmin who gave him a returns code, and asked us to return to the store with the card used for purchase (our daughter's) so that a refund could be processed.
The Middle: we returned to the store, only to find that the assistant we had been dealing with was not on shift. We were then met with an entirely different, rude and aggressive attitude. Bearing in mind that they had sold a faulty product, attacking the customer seemed an unusual stance. He kept disappearing into a back room to 'speak to the manager', so we asked to see the manager as we were not prepared to deal with this assistant further. We were then told that the manager 'wasn't there' (?) so we arranged to come in the following morning to see him.
Upon our return, we expected to be met with an apology and an instant refund. We asked for the manager, expecting a man with a pleasant, appeasing smile to come out and greet us. Instead, we were met with dumb insolence. I have never met a manager with such a sarcastic, rude and unpleasant attitude in my life. He (wrongly) asserted that Halfords were under no obligation at any time after purchase to offer a refund, and they only ever did it as a goodwill gesture. He should have some basic training on the Sale of Goods legislation! Despite the fact that we have two cars with full SatNav equipment built in and showed him the newly purchased unit we had bought at the airport, he was not prepared to offer anything except a completely pointless replacement unit. He seemed to take pleasure in being as awkward as possible, telling us it was "that or nothing". We asked for the name of the head of Customer Services to write to and he told us to look it up on the 'net. Unbelievable! He also told us that the original assistant would have been sacked if he had given us a refund.
Next steps: we sent letters under guaranteed next day delivery (signed for) to the Chief Executive (David Wild) and Commercial Director of Halfords (costing us some £12 incidentally, but it's the principle). The response was good: - take the unit back to the store, ask for the manager and he will issue a full refund.
The Result: we returned to the store and asked to see the manager. "Of course", said the assistant. "Who's calling?", before disappearing to fetch him. He declined to come out from his hiding place. We were issued (finally) with our refund by a nameless assistant. Despite presumably getting a bollocking from head office, the manager failed to redeem himself in any way. He is, in our eyes, beneath contempt.
The End: Will NEVER use Stratford-upon-Avon Halfords again. Beware!
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