Last April during my MOT I was advised I would need to replace my exhaust system in the next year as it was looking near the end of its life. On a 2000 VW Passat TDI the original exhaust had covered over 160,000 miles and 15 years of weather. As it’s due in April I started preparing to replace the system well in advance of April to spread out the cost of small repairs.
Beware it’ll take you around 5-10 minutes to read all of the below. But it’s all worth it.
After searching around online for the exhaust system for my AWX engine, I found onlineautomotive.co.uk. This was the first time I had found their site and a very quick search showed they would sell a complete system, with brackets, mounts and gaskets. It appeared perfect and I did a quick comparison from some other websites finding that onlineautomotive.co.uk was also quite competitive. Below is a ‘snip’ their website as of 21st Jan 2016.
Happy with everything I spent my Christmas Bonus at work and ordered on December 23rd. I didn’t expect the exhaust to arrive quickly due to my bad timing of ordering at Christmas so I was happy to wait. After Christmas during that week of limbo I logged in to see how the order was progressing, it was at a status of being picked. So back to the Christmas break I went.
January 4th arrived and I was back at work. I logged in to check progress and it stated items were still being picked. So I thought I would call them up and chase the order. I got through to someone in customer service who apologised and said my items were posted and he would get the tracking number and call me back. Great. With no call back by the time I finished work I called again at 4pm and got through to a member of staff called Jadene. Jadene advised me that the catalytic converter was out of stock so they were waiting for this before they dispatched the system. I questioned why I was told earlier it was already dispatched and was informed that it was nearly ready to be dispatched. Whilst on the phone to Jadene I looked on their website – the catalytic converter was showing as in stock, last few remaining! BUY NOW!
I didn’t pass that knowledge on, I just began to think here we go again. Jadene would call me tomorrow the second everything was posted out as the catalytic converter was due in tomorrow and would be immediately dispatched.
January 5th. No call by late afternoon. I call and ask for Jadene. Jadene tells me everything has just been dispatched. No tracking number though.
January 6th. My post room at work receive a rear silencer, a catalytic converter and the box of ‘bits’ – delivered by Tuffnels. The delivery man says the centre silencer is on its way and will be there later today. I go up and collect them, putting them in our IT cupboard as I was busy. At lunch time I go and look at the new stuff I received and check what has been received against the list of items I purchased. I notice I have been billed for 4 clamps, only 2 are in the box and I only need 2. I look online and the image confirms I only need 2. These clamps with the same code also have two different prices. Time to email onlineautomotive.co.uk
I’ve part received order OAO178***, I’m advised the centre silencer will arrive seperately. On checking the parts sent I appear to have been billed for 4x 60mm clamps. I only have 2, and the online image (http://www.onlineautomotive.co.uk/Image.aspx?ID=1995048) only shows I need 2. In addition the order form shows 2x line entries for 60mm clamps, with the same code ONC060S – although one pair was £8.06 and the other pair was £8.76. Please can you arrange the appropriate refund.
Jadene replies within a couple of hours.
Thank you for your email. I do apologise the clamps seem to have duplicated on the order. I have sent your details to accounts for two clamps to be refunded the total amount including vat is £10.52. Apologies again for this error, we will get this error resolved for you.
Now, look at the snip on the very first image of this post. It hasn’t duplicated in error as it is still there. Look at the bottom middle and bottom right items at the very bottom of the image. One has a (1) beside it. So it hasn’t been resolved at all. By this point I’ve also had a chance to look at what I’ve received up close and I’m not very happy. So I send another email to Jadene.
Thank you for the reply about the clamps.
I’ve now had time to inspect the parts delivered (the centre silencer has still not been delivered) and I am not happy upon inspection of the catalytic converter. Please see the images attached. A section of the down pipe is flat and is showing some damage as if something flat and heavy has been dropped on it, this would heavily restrict flow after the catalytic converter – it almost halfs the size of the pipe. On the underside there is also a large gouge. It would appear it has been damaged in transit and I did expect these items to have some protection, not just the dispatch label stuck on the bare metal. The rear silencer also has a number of dents on it.
I look forward to your advice.
Time for some pictures.
Jadene doesn’t reply.
January 7th. My centre silencer arrives. You already know what is going to happen. Time to email Jadene and show you more pictures.
In addition to my complaint about the catalytic converter and rear silencer last night, the centre silencer has just arrived. It is also damaged with bends in the pipe end, and the actual box is all dented. It looks like it’s been jumped on. It’s a very disappointing first experience with Online Automotive. Therefore can you please advise the process for me rejecting this whole system and returning everything for a refund.
Thank you for your email, I am sorry to see the damage you have received your parts in, I have forwarded the images to the Manufacturer to advise on why you have received the parts in such poor condition. We use a courier called Tufnell’s as they get large exhaust pieces next day delivery to customers, as we used to use Parcel Force but they placed all the exhausts on a 48 hour delivery, to which a lot of customers were not happy with, I hope this explains why you have received the parts bare metal. I will get this issue resolved for you, as soon as I have a response from the manufacture I will email you.
Thank you for your reply Jadene, I’m not confident that any replacement parts I would receive via courier would arrive in a good condition if they are not packaged and protected. I’d like to return this full system for a refund and I will source the parts locally where I can collect in person.
Myself and Jadene speak on the phone later that afternoon. She wants the opportunity to put this right for me and advises this is not the standard quality of system posted out and something must’ve gone wrong during transit. She seems genuinely apologetic so I allow her to arrange a new system to be delivered to the same address the next day. Jadene tells me the manufacturer will send it direct, it will be boxed and all items will be individually bubble wrapped. The manufacturer will take pictures of the items prior to packaging so they can be compared against ones delivered in the event of an issue.
January 8th. I receive the new system and immediately email Jadene. You know where this is going.
The new exhaust arrived this morning. It was in a box but that was it, no wrapping or bubble wrap so all the bare metal parts were just resting against each other. It would be interesting to compare the pictures they sent you before dispatch to the ones attached. The back box is all scored and dented again. The cat flex pipe is damaged and there is another dent in the pipe. The centre box is all dented and there is a huge deep score along one of the pipes.
Thank you for trying to resolve this but I’m not happy with it so wish to return everything for a full refund. You can include the box of clamps and paste so it’s a clean refund. I must make the assumption this is the standard quality of these exhausts so will source one locally in person. The courier did not collect the first system this morning so I now have two systems needing collection – I would appreciate it if you could get them collected today as they are taking up a large part of our cupboard now.
Happy for you to give me a call.
Time for some pictures of the 2nd system.
These exhausts are made by EuroFlo. “The Professionals’ Choice”. Here’s a ‘snip’ of their website as of 21st January 2016. They are all about quality. I like the bit that says “The quality and finish of our exhausts really is second-to-none..”
Jadene calls me. She doesn’t know what a .zip file is (I sent all the second system images in small folders in a ZIP file) and her PC won’t open. I send them seperately and she advises she’ll go back to the manufacturer.I ask her to send me the images they sent her prior to dispatch as I wanted to know if EuroFlo sent these out as damaged, or if Tuffnels trash them. The manufacturer apparently took a picture of the huge cardboard box – not the actual exhaust system.
Now I’m thinking this is all a load of garbage.
January 11th. Tuffnels arrive and collect 2x catalytic converters, 2x centre silencers, 2x rear silencers and the box of bits. I get two collection notes.
January 13th. Me and Jadene chat on the phone and I ask when I’ll get my refund. I should get it sent back to my card by the end of the week but it could be sped up if I send a scan of the collection notes. I do. Jadene calls me later. There’s a problem. Tuffnels have only delivered 1x catalytic converter. They’ve delivered everything else but a catalytic converter is missing. She cannot refund me until they have everything back. I tell her everything was collected and she states that the quantity is 7 items. She tells me to review the Tuffnels collection note. I do. It shows they were only supposed to collect 6 items. I tell Jadene on the phone it is hardly my fault if someone cannot arrange a return correctly. The post room worker Paul let in the Tuffnels courier and he helping the Tuffnels guy load everything on to the truck. 6 bits of metal and a box of bits.
Jadene changes a bit on the phone now, and this is when I start thinking “FML here we go“. Tuffnels have told her they haven’t got the catalytic converter. They sent their driver with 6 stickers, and 6 tracked items were delivered. I suggest I could perhaps get our building CCTV checked to show everything was taken and Jadene suggests this is the only real way to prove I have not kept the catalytic converter. So now I’m technically being made to be guilty and this will be absolved once I prove my innocence.
I speak to our building management company on the 14th of January. I cannot get the CCTV for data protection and they would not allow me to have a copy to send to onlineautomotive.co.uk
January 15th. I email Jadene.
The CCTV from my work office is proving difficult. We lease the building from a company who lease from a management company. This means the management company operate the CCTV. For data protection they cannot allow me to view it, and will not give me a copy of it. They have advised they can view it and advise what they see but that’s hardly going to be accepted by Tuffnells that they have lost an item and collected more than they should.
So, a few issues now exist.
1. I requested to reject the full system for a refund. This meant 2x cats, 2x centres, 2x rears and the box of misc. items. Whoever booked this collection only specified 6x things, not 7. The Tuffnels driver took 7 items. Based on my collection note it should not be hard for the company to locate the collection driver and take appropriate action.
2. A catalytic converter is missing. It was taken by Tuffnels and a member of staff in our post room is happy to go on the record as witnessing and assisting the Tuffnels driver taking everything.
3. My refund of over £200 is currently in delay due to no fault of my own.
So far as options, I can only think of the following;
1. You speak independently to Paul from our Post room on (number given) to get his input into the Tuffnels collection.
2. You speak to Tuffnels and ask a) why their driver collected more than he was supposed to b) If their company is “People who care” – what are they doing to locate the missing part. The driver would have had a spare piece of exhaust on his truck which he could not account for if he only had 6 tracking stickers. This should be at the depot awaiting someone to claim it (you).
3. I report this to the Police as a theft. They can view the CCTV and investigate, they will see that everything was collected from our offices but then the blame lies between Tuffnels and onwards to your company.
4. I do the above and contact my credit card company and initiate a Section 75 refund. However this is a last resort, I do wish to help as best as I can to get my refund and ensure you have everything back but my patience is starting to tire.
Feel free to give me a call.
I never hear from Jadene again. I do hear from Sarah though a few hours later;
Good Morning Kevin,
Thank you for your email, unfortunately Jadene is no longer with the company so I will be taking over your order so I can get this rectified for you.
We should have the missing cat converter being delivered back today as they have confirmed they have the item I will keep you posted as i am looking to get this refunded asap for you.
Please accept my sincere apologies on how long this has taken to get rectified for you.
Forgive my sarcasm but isn’t it convenient that they now have the catalytic converter once I threaten to involve the authorities? I reply saying I hope their management team take this up with Tuffnels as no business should make a customer prove their innocence. Sarah agrees.
Thank you for your reply.
I completely agree this case has been handled incorrectly you are 100% not to blame ad is definitely down to the courier you should not have had to try and prove this was collected.
The item has been located so from now on I will make sure the service you receive is accurate.
I start wondering if this is why Jadene is no longer with the business. Or if Jadene ever existed.
January 18th. I email Sarah and ask when I am getting my £252.62 back. I’m advised it will be back on the refund run that evening.
January 21st. The refund arrives (I allowed them 3-5 working days) and honestly never thought I would get it without involving my credit card company. I can finally press post on this story safe in the knowledge I will never ever use onlineautomotive.co.uk again, and that I have my money back.
During all of this saga, I purchased a system locally and got it fitted. I didn’t need a catalytic converter either!
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