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**November 2006 Update #1 - The branch I used was the Leeds York Road branch, Melbourne retail park, Leeds 14**
I have had my car from new, and was tied to using the dealer for servicing in order to benefit from a "free" three year warranty.
Anyway, the car had it's third birthday this year, so I thought I would start benefiting from the less expensive servicing options available out there. I had bought a third party warranty, whose recommended service agents were Nationwide Autocentres - great, I thought, there's one of them within two miles of home - so I got on the 'phone and booked an appointment for a 'better than manufacturer's spec' full service. Have a look at the website - it looks pretty impressive. They are also approved by the AA.
The full service option I chose indicates they carry out a check/adjustment regime on 70 items, categorising each using a traffic light system of red, amber and green. The price for this service was about £30 cheaper than the equivalent dealer service (though this saving also included a 10% discount).
Rose-tinted bit out of the way, now let me tell you how the day of the service went........
The car was booked in for 9-30 in the morning. I got there at 9-10 and booked it in (noting that there were 5 bays, each with a fitter in it, but only two cars already in them). The guy on reception asked me what time I would like to collect the car, indicating the service would take about an hour and a half. I said I would ideally like it ready no later than 1-00pm (they would give me a ring 'as soon as'), and promptly handed over my keys then had a walk to the nearest shopping centre and on to home for a bit of R&R in the absence of wife or kids.
1 O'Clock came and went without said phone call. No rush I thought, kids won't need picking up 'til 3-30. 2 O'Clock - getting worried now, so gave them a ring. Was fobbed off with "just finishing service now, then need to do a test drive - give us a ring at 3". I eventually got to collect the car at 5-30.
When I picked it up, there were greasy paw prints all over the steering wheel, gearstick and door handles, plus the usual areas of bonnet and wing where they had leaned against the car. The 70 point checklist was condensed to a single line on the invoice saying there was a severe oil leak which they could not identify (a later trip to the dealer showed that the oil was the result of an earlier turbo replacement where some spillage had collected in the drip tray). I asked where the "red/amber/green" report was, and was told the invoice entry was enough.
My impression of the entire place was that the staff had a lack of respect and courtesy for customers once the car was with them (but could "talk the talk" during the booking in process). The waiting area was spacious and had magazines for you to read while waiting, but seemed very scruffy and unwelcoming. I sat waiting the last half hour, and wasn't offered so much as a cup of coffee.
Overall, I wish I had either gone to the local "motosave" for a 50 quid service, or paid that bit extra and continued with the dealer servicing. I certainly won't use Nationwide again - and for those who may wish to defend them, yes I did fill in their (dis)satisfaction questionnaire (including leaving contact details for them to discuss my feedback), and have heard nothing from them. Obviously, this is my personal experience of my local centre, and some may not be like this. However, being a national company, you would think that they would aim to uphold consistent standards across all sites.
**November 2006 update #2 - despite never acknowledging my original comments about their service, they decided to put me on their mailing list and bombard me on a regular basis with junk mail, even though I have written to them asking not to**