Newest Review: ... him to come and look at my car. He gave an acceptable price which was not cheap. To say he has left marks on that car that were not there... more
Only As Good as Their Franchise Holders
Member Name: rosebud2001
Advantages: Convenient, effective and affordable
Disadvantages: At the mercy of franchise holders who have a high turnover rate
Unfortunately after just a couple of months ownership I spotted a rather bad scratch on my car, which caused me great anguish never mind the fact I had no idea how it got there. Because my car was new I wanted to get the scratch fixed quickly and in my quest to find someone to do it I came across ChipsAway for the first time.
ChipsAway don't generally take your car away to a body shop - instead their operatives fix your car outside your house, with an average job taking no more than 4 hours.
I liked this idea, along with the fact they provided me with far and away the cheapest quote for the job - £145 compared to the £900 my dealership quoted me.
All ChipsAaway workers are franchise holders but there is a website and call centre you can use for initial contact and information.
When you e-mail or call Chipsaway you will be allocated your local franchise holder and he (for they are invariably men) will call you back and arrange a time to come out and give you a quote. If you agree to go ahead, you will then arrange a date and time for the work to be done.
The company can fix scratches in car paintwork and bumper scuffs, minor dents and kerbed alloy wheels. They can also do some interior repairs including windscreen chips, tears to your car's upholstery and dashboard holes. If your car has suffered major damage they probably won't be able to help but for minor scratches, scuffs and dents they can help.
There is one caveat that the ChipsAway operative will tell you and that is you can be at the mercy of the weather. Some franchise holders have their own workshops and can take your car away in case of inclement weather but others won't be able to do the job at all in these circumstances.
When I first discovered the scratch on my car I called several different places for quotes but ChipsAway were far and away the cheapest, and offered me the most convenient time for fixing the scratch.
Unfortunately when the day loomed towards the end of November the operative turned up to tell me that his compressor had broken and he couldn't do the job until the following week. I was quite philosophical about this as I appreciate things go wrong and thought no more of it. That was until the day of the rescheduled appointment and the arrival of the first heavy snow of winter meant that the job had to be cancelled again.
For the next 10 days or so the snow didn't shift and in conjunction with icy roads, the job remained undone. We did arrange a third date for the job to be done, with the ChipsAway operative insisting he would take my car to his workshop to do the job.
I was happy with this and the day dawned and I waited for his arrival. And I waited. And waited. And waited. I phoned his number but the phone just went straight to voicemail. I was annoyed but also concerned. In light of the bad weather I was worried something had happened to the operative so I decided to leave things a day or two and see if I could get hold of him.
After a few days and still no response I phoned the ChipsAway call centre to inform them of my experience. They were confused by what had happened and promised to get in touch with the operative and get back to me. Unfortunately they couldn't get hold of him either so in the end I was passed on to another operative to do the job.
This time the operative lived much nearer to me but he didn't have a workshop and was completely at the mercy of the weather. I understood this - by now it was mid December - and we agreed he would do the job in early January, honouring the price quoted by the now missing original operative.
After one cancelled appointment due to the weather he turned up and did the job. All he needed from me was some electricity - everything else was in his van. He was able to match up the paint easily and in spite of some wintery showers and some blustery wind, he completed the job in the course of a day using heat lamps and his trusty marquee to lessen the effects of the weather.
Although it had taken over two months to get the work done, I was very pleased - the paintwork looked as good as new. ChipsAway phoned me for feedback a few days later and I was happy to offer fulsome praise of this particular operative. ChipsAway also guarantee your work so should you see any defect in the paintwork you should contact the call centre and they will put it right. You can register the job for a guarantee during the courtesy call or do it online.
~~What Happened Next~~
In March I was parking in a tight spot in the rain completely forgetting I was driving a new car, and failed to spot some rather wide, old fashioned mudflaps on a car and scraped my front bumper on one of them. The other car was undamaged but my bumper looked terrible with a couple of particularly deep scrapes.
When I got home I called the operative who had done the job the last time but his phone was dead. As he wasn't strictly the operative for my local area I called ChipsAway's call centre and they told me a different operative was covering my area and he would call me later that day. True to their word, he did, and he came out the next day to give me a quote which once again was very reasonable. This operative was based on the other side of Glasgow and we agreed that he would take my car to his workshop to fix rather than do the job outside my house.
I was expecting him in an afternoon the following week but my mobile rang in the morning with him informing me that his compressor had broken. My heart sank - I had, after all, been here before - but I tried to be philosophical - he had made a good impression on me as he had a very professional air about him and had struck me as someone who took his job very seriously. He was very apologetic and once again I found myself with a rescheduled date.
Now having read this tale of woe that should be the end of things really - bloke comes on rearranged date and fixes car but sadly no...the day before the rescheduled date I got a phone call from the ChipsAway call centre to inform me that my operative had fallen off a stool and badly hurt his back and sadly he wouldn't be able to fix my car at all now.
To say I was annoyed is a bit of an understatement. I informed the girl who had phoned from the call centre in no uncertain terms that much as I liked the end result of the last job I felt the entire experience was a catalogue of errors. At first she tried to put me in touch with an operative who wouldn't be free for three weeks but after I said that was unacceptable she got back to me with the contact details of another operative who could come and view the car a few days later.
This operative called as arranged and agreed to do the job for the original price quoted the following week. He was fully aware of the problems I had experienced in the past and assure me he wouldn't let me down.
Fast forward a week and I got a phone call from the operative. My heart sank - but he was calling just to confirm he was going to take the car to his workshop to do the job because of bad weather. He turned up as arranged and took the car away, telling me when I could expect him back and sure enough he returned with my car in that time frame.
I have to say he did a very good job and once again I was very pleased - you would never know my car had been so badly scratched at all.
I would like to think I have been incredibly unlucky with my experience with ChipsAway but if you consider what happened to me it reveals the flaws in their business model. Because their operatives work on a franchise basis the customer is at the mercy of whoever is holding the franchise for their local area. The first operative I was allocated who quite simply vanished without a trace, left a town with a population of over 100,000 people without someone representing the company. The second operative who did the job in place of the first is no longer a franchise holder. He did say to me when he was working on my car that the poor winter weather had made it almost impossible to make a living doing the job.
The third operative was obviously very unfortunate to injure himself but there was no immediate replacement for him and the jobs he had lined up, leaving me waiting for the fourth franchise holder to become available.
It's worth bearing in mind that I live in the central belt of Scotland, one of the more populous parts of the United Kingdom. If I lived somewhere more rural I would be very concerned about getting anyone to fix my car from ChipsAway in light of the problems I had in an area which is home to over a million people.
I have since learned that some franchise holders take more of a pride in their work than others. The first operative who never turned up I have since been told was something of a liability, so bad in fact that I am now glad he never got his hands on my car.
There is also a problem in retaining operatives - a Google search will reveal there are many people who took out franchises and feel aggrieved at how ChipsAway operate - many cite the infamously unreliable compressors as a recurring problem but others claim they were given areas to work in which overlapped with other franchise holders and as such they were competing against ChipsAway. Others claim it's quite simply impossible to make a living as a franchise holder but I suppose you could argue that the success or failure of any such venture will depend on the person's business acumen and work ethic.
There is no denying however that when ChipsAway works, it's an affordable and convenient way to get minor dents and scratches fixed on your car. The company are happy to do work not just at your home address but also at your work address (assuming this is permitted by your work of course), and the end results are, in my opinion anyway, very impressive. With insurance excesses increasing all the time, I would actively encourage anyone to get a quote from ChipsAway first as you may well find yourself paying less and not having to worry about your premium going up.
Furthermore, some franchise holders do small jobs for some of the bigger dealerships - so for instance I was charged £145 for the first job ChipsAway did but the dealership which quoted me £900 regularly use ChipsAway and make a hefty profit at their customers' expense as a result.
I do have to say that the call centre staff are very helpful and they took on board very quickly the difficulties I had had and did all they could to rectify those problems but they too have tied hands - they can't just magic an operative out of thin air for you.
If, heaven forbid, I need a minor scratch or dent dealt with on my car in the future I will call ChipsAway again for a quote but if you need a job done in a hurry or have to have it done by a specific date you would do well to be wary because mishaps and issues with franchise holders seem to be par for the course unfortunately. And at the end of the day ChipsAway are not the only company offering this service either.
Summary: A great idea but not always so good in practice
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