It is almost a year since Jan Andor Stijfhoorn handed in the car at the US Car Service workshop, to have the bulb replaced in one of the headlights. He also asked for an oil change and a visual check on the car.
Since he is a student, he made sure that the workshop would try to make it as cheap as possible.
– I went to the car repair shop that my dad has used for many years, and thought that they would do a decent job, says Stijfhoorn.
According to Stijfhoorn, he received an oral price estimate of 10,000 kroner when he handed in the car.
A few weeks later, he was informed by the workshop that the repair would be somewhat more expensive. According to the 22-year-old, he agreed with the workshop that they should look at used parts.
– I was laid off at the time, so I had no other income than the study grant of 8,000 that went straight to rent, says Stijfhoorn.
When the car was ready to be picked up a few weeks later, he was told that the price was 28,000.
– I thought it was an incredible amount to change a bulb and some oil. At the same time, I thought it might be like owning a car. I had to get mentally ready to pay so much money.
But it turned out that this was not the full price either.
You can read the response from the US Car Service further down in the case.
Enter price without VAT
When he was to pick up the car later that day, he was told that the price he had been given was without VAT.
The total amount was therefore NOK 35,000.
– It is very strange to operate in that way. I mean you can not come up with a price, and then later say that it is without VAT. It does not make sense, says Stijfhoorn.
– According to the Crafts Act, an offer is considered to include VAT unless otherwise clearly stated, says consumer lawyer Thomas Iversen in the Consumer Council.
– If the workshop states a price without including VAT, they are obliged to specify this to the customer. If this has not been done, the price stated by the workshop applies to the customer.
Iversen explains that the workshop is still obliged to pay VAT to the state, but that in such cases they must bear the cost themselves.
– I feel tricked
After several conversations with the workshop, and free legal assistance through NAF, Stijfhoorn received a new award from the workshop.
It was a little over 32,000 kroner.
But the student still thought it was too expensive. He therefore asked for a receipt for the purchase.
– Then we saw that they had carried out several repairs on the car that I was neither aware of, nor had been asked if I would carry out.
Stijfhoorn says he was not aware that the workshop had replaced control units in the headlights, in addition to replacing the car’s cabin filter, air filter, crankcase filter and diesel filter.
He does not want to pay for repairs he says he has not asked the workshop to carry out.
– I feel I have been tricked into rolling around.
– Has a duty to warn the customer
Stijfhoorn bought his car, a BMW 118d, for 40,000 in 2018. The car has been driven over 200,000 kilometers, and is a 2006 model.
He therefore reacts to the fact that the workshop did not warn him that the repair would be disproportionately expensive in relation to the value of the car.
NAF’s head of communications, Camilla Ryste, says that workshops have a duty to warn the customer in advance in such cases.
– Workshops have a duty to advise against in cases where the work will be disproportionate to the value of the car in repaired condition, Ryste says.
– Did not fool him
After almost a year, Stijfhoorn and the US Car Service have not yet managed to find a solution to the conflict. They are now waiting for the case to be considered by the Conciliation Board.
The head of the US Car Service, Kirsten Gabrielsen, thinks it is a pity that the conflict with Stijfhoorn has gone so far.
– The father of Stijfhoorn, who owns the vehicle and orders the repair, has been a customer with us for many years, so it is of course a pity that it has become like that, says Gabrielsen.
However, she denies that the workshop has tried to deceive the customer.
– A price offer of 10,000 was not given when he handed in the car, because it was uncertain what could be done with the headlight that was wrong.
According to Gabrielsen, the US Car Service has had regular contact with the customer’s father, who is the owner of the car, before they ordered parts for the car.
Stijfhoorn’s father confirms to TV 2 help you that he has had some contact with the workshop. He says, however, that he never approved that they should use such expensive parts.
– New lights cost over 40,000, so when we have managed to carry out the repair of the lights at a quarter of the price, well then we have tried to make it as cheap as possible for our customer, says Gabrielsen.
Despite the fact that Stijfhoorn bought the car in 2018 for 40,000, Gabrielsen believes that the car’s market value is far higher, and that the duty to advise is thus waived.
She refers to an advertisement on Finn.no where a car of the same model about Stijfhoorn’s car is out to 61,000. Stijfhoorn believes that expensive repairs have been made to the car in the ad, which means that it can not be compared to his car.
The consumer lawyer explains that it is difficult to establish that the workshop is obliged to use the dissuasion obligation in this case.
– Even if they do not necessarily violate the duty to advise, the repair still costs half of what the customer’s car may be worth. I therefore believe that the workshop should have informed the customer about this when they saw that the repair became disproportionately expensive, says Iversen.
Advises the customer to secure written agreements
Gabrielsen says US Car Service has made the repair as cheap as possible for Stijfhoorn.
– We had an agreement on what was to be fixed on the car, and have carried out the repairs the customer requested, says Gabrielsen.
When TV 2 helps you, Gabrielsen asks if they should have given Stijfhoorn a written price estimate before they carried out the repair, she answers:
Workshops can perform repairs in all price ranges, without the need for a written offer.
Iversen confirms that the workshop is not obliged to provide written agreements, regardless of price.
– An oral agreement is as binding as a written one, but in this case it is a matter of word for word. We therefore always advise the customer to secure a written agreement with a price estimate in advance, to avoid ending up in such situations.
According to Iversen, the written agreement does not have to be formal.
– It lasts with an SMS or an email, says the consumer lawyer.
– If no price estimate has been given in advance, it follows from the legislation that the customer must pay what is called gang price, that is, the price that is usual for paying for a similar service, Iversen explains.
– There will always be a slight deviation, but if it is a question of several thousand notes in difference then the seller must adjust the invoice down, says Iversen.
What must the customer do to demand a regular price?
- Ask for a specified invoice for the job, which contains how many working hours were spent and what the parts cost.
- Contact two other players and request a written price estimate for a similar service.
- Set up a price estimate based on parts you find on the second-hand market at a lower price.