Buying Experience 1.6 SR Civic 10th Gen & 8th Gen Accord from Holdcroft Honda Stoke
I'm posting this to showcase a complaint I have with the Holdcroft Honda Dealership in Cobridge, I rang the Stoke Volvo office to query the complaints process as I'd been told that the only step left to me was to take the Honda dealership to court, however I've found the Holdcroft complaints procedure online clearly detailing there's an escalation process to the customercare team, which is something Honda haven't advised.
I had asked Managing Director to speak to me about this along with his PA, however on multiple occasions I’ve had no luck in getting through to either, I sent most of the prior information to him directly on email but never had a response other than from a dealer principle from Warrington who said the MD was considering the company stance on my complaint, that’s the last I heard.
The complaint is in relation to the purchase of two vehicles from Holdcroft Honda Cobridge, one a Honda Accord EX GT and a brand new Honda Civic SR, we've had, and continue to receive appalling service from the dealership on both vehicles.
The complaint at present has led me to contact a separate Honda branch to arrange for both car's to be serviced there, which adds over 20 miles of distance for servicing or warranty, however at present I feel it's the best way to ensure that both cars are checked and serviced properly, as the checks and service we've had at Cobridge is dismal.
Firstly the Civic, we purchased a brand new Civic and traded in our 2016 Toyota Auris 1.4d Business Edition, we wanted an EX grade however there were apparently some issues around what the car was valued at which would have meant we would have needed to put down I believe over £3000 in addition to the deposit for the vehicle, we settled on a lower trim level and asked for the Heated seats from an EX to be installed into the SR vehicle as part of the purchase.
We also asked for a set of He-Man dual controls to be installed into the vehicle as it would be used by my wife who's a driving instructor, these are required for her work - and we've used the He-Man sets of dual controls in every car we've had for over 10 years with no issues nor fuss.
The offer letter for the car was printed and said "Heated Seats" & "Dual Controls", to which we queried in both cases with the sales exec at the time - You ARE fitting the EX heated seats and HE-MAN dual controls right? That's what we asked for, the sales exec assured us not to worry about it not being fully described on the offer letter as he would be dealing with the installation and as we'd told him what we wanted in detail during the discussions he knew what kit we wanted installing in the vehicle.
We also queried the service interval on the vehicle, we were told it was to be 10,000 miles which was the same as the Auris, that's good as it meant we wouldn't be spending more on servicing, I quickly asked the parts team to price up a service kit as we took the Auris to an independent garage for servicing and used a genuine service kit, they told me the Civic was on a 6000 mile service schedule not 10,000.
I queried this with the sales and service team who assured me it's 10,000.
Fast forward to the day of collection and the sales exec informs both my wife and I that he received an email THAT MORNING stating the service intervals were now 6000 not 10,000 - not what was said originally.
In addition when we looked over the car we found that the heated seat switches were missing from the dash (under the touch screen), I asked the sales exec where they were, and he said down at the bottom of the seat - I said why aren't they in the dash like they're supposed to be? His response was because they're aftermarket, you didn't think you were getting Honda ones did you? I'm utterly floored at this point as the dealership hasn't fitted what I asked, despite me querying this on the offer letter and being assured what we asked for was what was going to be fitted, both my wife and I were party to the conversation with the sales exec.
I took a closer look over the car and found the switches for the aftermarket seats weren't even sitting into the seat, they were falling out, in addition the wiring to power the heated seat was falling out of the centre console (near the handbrake switch), which I had to push back under the centre console to prevent it getting caught on the seat runners and potentially damaging the system if it shorted to the steelwork on the seats.
We took the car home, and then brought it back less than 2 days later when it conked out, I mean in the sense the car refused to start and it displayed an anti theft warning on the dash board, there was nothing turning the key would do - we attempted to 'bump start' the car three times which made no difference, only starting on the 4th attempt.
I brought the car straight back to the dealership for it to be looked at however service weren't available, and the sales exec told me well I don't know what you want me to do other than call out the AA. A long story short here the AA recovery arrived and found that the battery connections were loose and there was condensation in the headlamps - he tightened the cables back up and we drove home. My assumption here is the heated seat installer didn't correctly tighten the cables back up after disconnecting the battery when installing the seats, however it poses the question why wasn't the car checked over before hand over? Surely there's some check done to make sure the car looks OK?
Fast forward again to the next fault we had which was the alarm going off on it's own with no one in the vehicle. This has happened repeatedly, the only fix I've found is disabling the ultrasonic sensors inside of the vehicle, leaving the car less secure (there's a button on the roof console to turn them off temporarily). In addition to this my wife reports that the dual controls have seized, the brake pedal is now on the floor and won't move. She calls the dealership to be palmed off with a response from the same sales exec who sold us the car that essentially said call the installer directly, what do you want me to do? Which she did, however shouldn't have had to as the contract for installing those dual controls is with the dealership, we're not directly involved with the installer.
Anyway she called the installer who said oh yeah they get stuck sometimes, you need to move a swivel switch.
Now at this point note we've had HE-Man dual controls for over 10 years with no issues nor fuss, never had a problem and most certainly they've never seized on any car we've had - as it's a huge safety issue if your car starts to emergency stop on it's own!
My wife managed to free up the dual controls, however this happened 2-3 more times and during this time I'd engaged the dealership to find out what's happening with the controls, as I was on site most weeks due to my Honda Accordneeding more warranty work (it's needed a LOT which is still ongoing!) I was told by the new car sales manager that he wasn't sure what was happening with the duals but the guy they used was reputable and approved, so I asked for his details.
I received the details at the end of the day after having to ask a few times to get a response, it was at this point I found they'd used a random man-in-a-van, so I called HE-Man directly to see if he worked for them as an approved installer, they confirmed in email (attached) that he's not one of their approved installers.
So at this point we'd asked for HE-Man dual controls and genuine heated seats from the EX Grade Civic and we've received aftermarket heated seats alongside a dual control kit that hasn't been installed or approved by HE-Man - i spoke to the dealer principal who said to me:
"Because you're so fussy with the kit you have in the car, you contact He-Man and sort it out and I'll pay for it"
(Amazingly when I brought this quote up on site he now argues he never said that)
Which I did, I contacted HE-Man and asked them for a list of installers near me and the price on a kit for the new shape Civic.
He-Man told me there was no kit for the Civic yet, as they'd not manufactured one, and they'd need a vehicle for 6 weeks to do so.
So now we've got incorrect heated seats installed, along with dual controls installed by an unapproved installer that aren't even a HE-Man product!
I’d note here that driving instructors use specialised motor vehicle insurance, a lot of which won't insurance the vehicle if they aren’t using official HeMan dual controls (I've had this checked)– which isn’t a bad thing as they represent quality reliability and safety, they’re controlling the brake and clutch of the car, they have to be in perfect working order and made properly otherwise you’re putting people’s lives at risk.
I spoke to the 2 closest installers alongside speaking with HeMan on what else could be fitted to a vehicle, and at this point they gave me two numbers of fitters and only one option - to fit what's called a general purpose kit, which is a prototype kit that needs to be adapted to the floor pan of the vehicle.
I contacted both numbers, the first refused to take the existing kit out of the vehicle because of deemed liability on his part if anything goes wrong, the second asked me to meet him at a HE-Man conference so he could have a look over the car to see if he could potentially get the general purpose kit installed, as there was no guarantee's on it being able to be installed in this shape of Civic.
I took the car down to meet the installer, who looked at the existing kit and immediately managed to pull the brake pedal off of the car, it wasn't even bolted in place, he proceeded to look over the driver’s side and noticed the clutch cablewas starting to fray (this is a fairly hefty steel cable), he advised that the installation wasn't fit for purpose and he would not advise to continue driving the car, stating the car only had 1-2 months of life left in that kit before it failed and potentially damaged the car - note at this point every time the dual controls failed in the vehicle they caused the car to come to an emergency stop, putting the life of both my wife, her pupil and other road users at risk.
I spoke to the dealership again and said the easiest way to resolve this was to take the new shape Civic back and give me a 2017 previous shape Civic, however I’d want some serious good will applied because of the dismal service I’ve received and the dangerous condition the car’s been left in, the reason I asked for a previous generation Civic was that HeMan had already produced a kit for that shape of Civic and so it was available as a production item, not the general purpose kit that we were offered for the new shape, all of the fixing points and assessments had been looked at, whereas with a general purpose kit the installation is dependent on the individual installer first wanting to take up the work as it’s a large risk on their part, secondly the installer being able to install the kit and mount it in such a way that it doesn’t damage anything on the other side of the floor pan or bulk head.
I felt the previous generation Civic would have sorted both the installation of non-approved heated seats and the installation of non-approved dual controls, and at this point I’d say that at no point during the sales process did the dealership come back to either my wife or I to ask or verify that we were using:
· A non-approved installer that was not He-Man approved
· A non-approved set of He-Man Dual controls
· A third party to install the heated seats
· The fitting of non-genuine heated seats
There was no dialog or checking with us at all, and my argument with the dealership rightly includes that I took the word of the sales exec as someone I could trust with making what I wanted in the vehicle happen – as I described it, I didn’t realise I needed to hand hold the dealership and correct them at every turn, which is what I’ve had to do on both vehicles.
I found a vehicle at the Warrington branch that I wanted brought to Cobridge, I’d already spoken to the dealer principle at Warrington whom I’ve had a number of chats with and I find to be an honest and open guy who’s willing to assist where he can, and he agreed the car could be sent down and it wasn’t a problem.
I asked the Cobridge team to bring the car for me to view with a view to sending back the new shape and taking the old one, something that was deemed to not be a problem by Jack, the sales exec we spoke to when we went down to the dealership in the evening after I’d met up with the installer from He-Man to assess the state of the current installation.
The next day I chased to see if he’d spoken to the Warrington team, “No they’re still in their sales meeting”, fair enough, I called back after dinner – “Jacks with another customer” , fair enough but can someone find out if he’s called Warrington please – “Yes no problem”.
I got no call back, in the end I got my wife to call the dealership as I didn’t have the time to call again, and she spoke to Jack who said he’d been calling me both on my mobile and office line all day to update me (I’ve no missed calls, voicemails on either my mobile or office line at this point) but the new car sales manager has blocked me from bringing that car down to the dealership until your complaint is resolved.
So at this point my resolution was to use a previous generation Civic, but I was blocked from doing so.
More conversations with the dealership occurred and I asked the finance company to process a complaint also and to get involved with things at the dealership, their complaint is ongoing but essentially I told both parties that if the car is off the road, as we’ve been advised not to drive it, then I need a replacement vehicle ASAP as it’s used to run a business and we can’t afford to not have it on the road for a prolonged period of time.
We looked at getting a lease car and returning the Civic however the shortest lease time was 3 months and £600 a month on top of the Civic payments, the finance company wouldn’t halt the finance during the complaint even if the car went back to the dealership so we were left with no option but to explore the fitting of the general purpose kit.
It was at this point I’d also learned that should there be an accident with the vehicle then no one is insured as the vehicle would be running with an existing known fault, I explained this to the new car sales manager and his response was that this was “False Information” and that we would be covered by insurance – I had this checked by my eldest daughter who works in insurance and she confirmed that the insurance would likely not be covered as it breaches what’s classed as taking reasonable care of the vehicle.
So again at this point the dealership has told me one thing and what’s actually happening is different.
At every point of the complaint with the dealership they’ve gone back to the offer letter saying it states only dual controls and heated seats, which we queried at the time and were assured this wouldn’t be a problem, now conveniently the sales exec ‘forgot’ that conversation even happened, and whilst the dealership argues it doesn’t state genuine heated seats or heman dual controls it also does not state anywhere that they would be fitting generic heated seats, by a third party I was unaware of and unapproved dual controls by an unapproved installer.
I’ve posed this question to the dealership and had no response each time, I’ve asked why when the car was having these parts fitted did no one send anything to me to query if this dual control kit was OK, or this heated seat system, or can we use other parts for the dual controls as an official production kit wasn’t available? The only reason I can think that they didn’t ask me was that they were fully aware it wasn’t what I wanted and should they have contacted me It would have raised a country sized red flag in terms of this not being what we asked for and discussed with the sales exec during the sales process.
To be crystal clear here, if I’d have known they weren’t fitting what we asked for we would not have purchased the vehicle, I can't stress this enough – we would have carried on with the Auris (which had factory heated seats alongside a production approved HeMan dual control set) which had never had an issue in the 2 years we had it, in comparison both cars we’ve had from Holdcroft have been a nightmare to deal with.
At this point we’ve had the general purpose kit installed and it appears to work OK, however I mentioned to both the dealer and finance company that I was reluctant to look into this option as it wasn’t a production kit, and my sneaking suspicion was that should I have this installed, the dealership would write off the safety critical aspect of my complaint, which they have done insisting they’ve fixed the problem, which they haven’t – I’ve had to fix everything myself, organise the fitting, speak to the company, meet with installers, take the car to Birmingham for the day (so I lost a day’s wage there in addition to my wife), and even though we’ve now got a HeMan kit, it still wasn’t what we asked for, it should have been a production kit, not a kit that’s had to be grinded down and welded for it to fit properly as I’m sure you’d appreciate it wouldn’t look the same, and for a £24000 car I wanted everything to be as it should have been, a factory car, with factory seats and a factory approved he man dual control kit – something the dealership should have made me aware of during the sales process and did not.
Again if the dual controls were not available for the Civic we would not have brought the vehicle. If the seats to be installed were described to have been non genuine we would not have brought the vehicle.
We had a production kit on the Auris and factory heated seats, I’m struggling to understand the dealerships viewpoint in that I’d go from that car to then give them £24000 for a brand new vehicle but say yeah fit the cheapest seats and controls you want it’s fine. We just wouldn’t and didn’t do that, and it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for the customer to expect the sales exec to deliver on what’s discussed during the sales process, otherwise why have conversations about new cars at all if you can’t trust what’s being said verbally?
I managed to find out who they’d used to fit the heated seats and the dealer principles issue was the installed seats were a 2 stage heating system and the EX Civic is a 3 stage, and they weren’t compatible, of which I replied I asked for genuine ones, this isn’t my concern, fix it – they refused. They offered to move the switches anywhere else if it was suitable, which it was not as my issue was that it wasn’t a genuine kit.
I came up with a compromise arrangement, the installer they used make both a 2 stage and 3 stage heating system, if a 3 stage system was fitted instead, the installer (and I’ve spoken to them and confirmed this already, however the price would be over £720) could make use of the genuine Honda heated seat switches and replace the small plastic section over the heater controls which doesn’t currently have the switch blanks present, and this would give me a set of seats that look as close to OEM as possible, as Honda rejected the fitting of a complete EX setup as it would cost too much money – they refused to even investigate what parts they’d need to replace and what the cost would be, it was an outright refusal without investigating.
At this point I asked the question on why the offer of a 3 stage system wasn’t given to me during the sales process, why a 2 stage when the EX Civic has a 3 stage system as standard? It’s almost as if again if they’d have told me this I would have quickly realised they weren’t using genuine parts.
Honda rejected this offer and their final response to me has been to replace the SR seats with a new set which aren’t modified and to refund the £600 it cost them to put the 2 stage heated seats into the vehicle – its either that or take legal action I’ve been told as I asked for the escalation process and nowhere did the dealership make reference to Holdcrofts complaints procedure (a little odd that one of the dealerships doesn’t know their own complaints procedure?)
Honda are stating they’ve followed a rigorous sales procedure and they’ve essentially done nothing wrong (and are even pointing me towards their previous motor ombudsman decisions!), however what we agreed with the sales exec and what we queried when the offer form was supplied we were told not to worry and that everything would be sorted as we’d agreed with him, even to the point we asked for a specific range of number plates, pick what you want on a new car he said, we gave him a number of specific plates and he came back a week or so later with a list which had none of the ones we asked for – this is all that’s available we were told, again another example of being promised something and not delivering.
I mean take my Honda Accord, brought in February for an extortionate sum considering what’s gone wrong with it, the Approved Used Honda check on the vehicle was carried out by Stevie Wonder, as the amount of faults I was left with on the car is a joke – which I’ve since found out the technician was sacked from the dealership not long after completing my check, amazingly I had a service done at the start of this month on the Accord where the technician highlighted I needed a new tyre as it had 1.6mm of tread on an inner edge, I took it to an independent tyre fitter who has rubbished the health report as he can’t find tread lower then 3.1mm – when I queried this over the phone earlier this week I was told the technician again is no longer with the dealership, brilliant, every time I find something wrong with the Accord, the offending staff member disappears!
I’m in the process of contacting Honda Warrington to ask them to perform the approved used check as I doubt the technical capability of Cobridge after what’s gone on, and I’m hoping there’s been no safety items missed that could lead me to an accident. I mean if they can’t check tyre tread properly, what other life threatening faults could the Accord or the Civic be hiding that the dealership just isn’t competent enough to see?
To date, and this isn’t an exhaustive list as the dealership won't release to me the warranty work information that was done prior to me picking up the car to add to the service pack I have with the car…
· DPF Forced regeneration
· DPF Acid Treatment
· DPF Replacement Filter Fitted
· New Clutch Master Cylinder fitted (after greasing the old one) - which is now squeaking again less than 5000 miles in...
· New Door Trim (It was actually stolen by a staff member from another Accord for sale on the dealership and placed on to mine)
· New switch pack on the passenger door
· Handbrake adjustments as it wouldn't hold on a hill - they said it's normal...
· New 4 wheel alignment as the previous one hadn’t centred the steering wheel properly
· There’s still a chip in the windowscreen to repair
· The boot water channel was resprayed
· It’s been sold with two rear tyres with cracks in the rubber
· It wasn’t serviced prior to pick up, I’ve now got to pay for an air con clean as it stinks when it first comes on every now and again – I’m hoping the clean fixes it and it’s not something else going wrong.
This is in 6 months of owning the car, its actually been to site that many times that I know almost everyone's name on site, I’m on first name basis with everyone on site, and I even had a customer approach me asking me to explain the technical features on the Civic to him – I’m being mistaken as Staff!
The servicing on the Accord was also a joke, I brought it on finance which meant 2 free services, I was called up by the holdcroft team to book it in for it’s major service and I said it’s good I have two free services, “Oh no they’re only for minor services” “You’ll need to pay us £150 for the major service”, WHAT? I had to query this with the service manager on site to get the work done as a free service.
At every point, in both car experiences, this dealership has found a way of messing up and trying to assume there is either nothing wrong or I’m in the wrong here.
I’ve tried approaching the Motor trade ombudsman but they refuse to look into the case as the car’s being used for business, trading standards have been informed following a call with citizens rights and the consumer helpline and they are due to get in touch potentially acting as a dispute resolution service, however I can’t see this helping now that Honda have issued their final stance which is to replace the seats with new ones which aren’t heated and refund the £600 cost for installing them, however that still leaves me out of pocket, the 3 stage kit is £720 and the installer has informed me it would be extra for them to fit them into Honda switches as they’d need to bench test the system first, in addition I’d need to provide them with the switches, plugs for the back of the switches along with the dash plastic to be replaced.
I wanted a new car personally to replace my 2006 Skoda Fabia Vrs, which I’m glad I’ve kept as I'm leaving an open invitation here on the forum that if anyone would like to give me the outstanding balance on the Accord they can happily take the car off my hands and I’ll go back to the Skoda, as that car has never let me down in 4 years of motoring whereby I’ve done 50,000miles upwards, the Accord however has had all of these problems in 5,000 miles.
I’ve actually been to site that many times I’ve driven most of the courtesy cars, in pretty much every engine size and gearbox variant, alongside model – I’ve only the CR-V left!
We wanted the Civic as a more affordable car to run than the Auris, we were told it would be cheaper to finance (it wasn't), cheaper to run and more reliable (HA!) however the amount of problems the dealer has caused with both vehicles has left us feeling like we’re the ones in the wrong for buying a Honda in the first place, we stated what we wanted during the sales process and we also queried what was put on the offer letter and we were assured it would be as we described, an official He-Man dual control kit and genuine heated seats from an EX grade Civic – the sales exec was quoted as saying “I can fit any optional extra into a vehicle” something the dealership now denies, strangely despite everyone that denies it not being part of the original conversations.
We’re now left with a car that costs more than our previous one, with a cracked centre console (thanks to the dual control installer originally, which again Honda seemed to miss on their checks that the centre console is hanging off on the passenger side), damaged seats as the switches for the existing heated seats keep falling out. And this is independent of the alarm issue that can potentially reoccur, the window wipers that when set to auto seem to move to full speed with a single drop of rain hits the screen, but it slows down in a downpour, the ADAS kit that occasionally reports every road in the UK as a no overtaking lane…it’s been such a nightmarish time that it’s actually affected my wife’s health a large way, something the dealer principle over the phone (because he doesn’t put much in writing, and when asked about things he ignores them via writing) denies having any adverse affect on, which is in complete contradiction to both the Warrington & Stuart Graham branches who when I asked for a second opinion there both immediately understood that the stress it’s placed on both my wife and I would have a negative impact on health.
It’s left me not wanting another Honda, and that's despite the fact I love the styling in the Accord, I was even considering an import of a Gen9 at some point but they've shot my confidence in the brand, in addition it’s begun to spread like wildfire that this dealership isn’t to be trusted amongst the driving instructors in stoke on trent, and considering theres 39,000 of them in the UK, it doesn’t take long for that experience to shun people away from the new Civic, the word's also spreading amongst the pupil base, if you consider for every one instructor there's at least 10 different pupils being taught at one time period, and we're getting feedback from pupils already when they're asked what car they'd consider for their first car, they're immediately writing off the Civic because of the way Holdcroft sells and manages customers.
The dual controls, don’t look the best, but they’re a He-man kit installed by a He-Man installer, so I trust they shouldn’t fail, they just don’t look the best because they aren’t a production item, but I’m not happy that I had to do the majority of the leg work to fix the problem myself because the dealership were utterly clueless in being able to sort this out, and It makes sense for them to ask me to deal with it now, considering there was no production kit available, something they should have known as you’d assume they would have contacted He-Man to get the controls fitted, it looks like they didn’t contact them at all despite us asking specifically for that brand of controls.
The heated seats aren’t a genuine item, and I’ve even tried to come to a compromise agreement with the dealership to put a higher grade of heated seat in from the installer which will allow for the installing of genuine Honda switches, making the system look OEM which should have been what we received in the first place.
All we want is a safe car that’s as we discussed, which Honda have refused.
I’m not asking for the world to be put right,
just replace the seats with either an EX installation (which Honda said would cost too much and be too complex), or fit a three stage system from the installer and use Honda Switches, to date we’ve been offered no apology, no admission of any wrong doing on either cars and certainly no good will to put things right in context of what’s gone wrong – I couldn’t seem to get through to the dealership you could have killed someone, and they’ve treated my complaint like I’ve a scuff on an alloy wheel.
I'm hoping the customer care team can offer some assistance, as Honda Customer Service UK have been a joke thus far, the Accord is too old for them to care despite it being under warranty and an approved used vehicle, the Civic they won't touch either as all Honda dealers in the UK are franchised so it's not their problem, they're quoted as saying they're "Honda in name only".
Moral of the story? Don't ask for any optional extras or anything that's not a completely standard vehicle that they have to do nothing to - they're not competent enough to get it right, although saying that, my Accord was a standard vehicle and that's been fraught with problems too, nothing optional or extra there, just a heap of things not working and not checked before sale - despite being approved used. Make of that what you will.
I won't be touching Holdcroft Honda Stoke again - we're moving to get the car's serviced in Warrington at a separate dealership as a result along with getting another approved used safety check performed on the Accord as the first one was performed by Stevie wonder...