CONSUMER: Driver Bob gets steamed up over air con issues with his Jaguar
Proud Jaguar owner Bob Kell soon got steamed up with the prestige car manufacturer after a latent design flaw caused the car's air conditioning and demisting system to pack up in the middle of winter.
The retired Lee-on-the-Solent company director bought the low-mileage £37,000 XS S model four years ago from a local dealership.
A hire purchase agreement was arranged by Jaguar Rover financial services.
This gave him the peace of mind that if any major defect with it developed while it was on hire he could claim the cost repairs from the finance company or the dealer.
Early last December the 70-year-old started to get warning signs all was not well with the car’s electrics when all the nearside lights went out.
Then the entire air conditioning system went on the blink preventing the air circulation vents from opening. The windows rapidly misted up completely restricting visibility making the quality car undriveable.
Bob said: ‘I had no idea what the problem was so I took it to a Jaguar specialist company who spent about three hours on it but just couldn’t find the problem.
‘I then took it to the dealership which soon found the problem, so in my opinion obviously knew where to look.
‘I had a phone call from them saying it was water ingress into the central junction box, which they said it was all to do with a faulty window washer pump, that had leaked and let water into it.
‘I said I wasn’t happy and I was only paying the £1,069 repair bill under protest.’
An irked Bob discovered the water that had leaked from the pump had made its way down a wiring loom straight into the junction box, and was an inevitable consequence just waiting to happen.
He insisted that he wanted all the parts that had been replaced returned to him.
On collecting the car Bob also asked the technician who’d repaired his car whether the problem was likely to occur again.
To his amazement he was given a copy of a technical bulletin.
Jaguar mechanics were instructed how to modify the car’s wiring harness with water blocking splices to prevent water getting into the car’s electrics.
Not best pleased at what he’d discovered Bob dashed off a letter of complaint to Jaguar Financial Services. He pointed out it was a clearly a known design issue which he shouldn’t be expected to pay to have fixed.
He insisted he’d been unfairly clobbered in the wallet because given the age and price of the car, it wasn’t of the quality standard required by sale of goods law.
Streetwise ran a quick internet search which confirmed Bob wasn’t alone in suffering similar water ingress problems into the electrical system of Jaguar XF S type cars.
Owners had reported glove boxes mysteriously opening when they operated the window washer control, the car’s side and headlights were prone to going off and back on without warning, and total climate control system failures.
However, Bob blew a gasket when Jaguar refused to take his complaint on board and rejected his request for compensation.
In a fruitless exchange of letters they insisted there was no defect with the car at the time of sale. They argued it was up together and of a standard to be expected of a one-year-old XF S model when he agreed to buy it.
Increasingly exasperated with the way he was being fobbed off Bob came to Streetwise for some answers.
We came to the conclusion that he’d been given a bit of a bum steer. Jaguar appeared to have engaged in a chicken-and-egg line of argument as to what had come first, the design or water tracking issue.
However, problems arising from latent design defects with cars were notoriously difficult to argue in law. Given the circumstances we considered their point blank refusal to accept any responsibility was a knockback too far.
We put it to Jaguar the very least they could do was to consider a goodwill gesture by helping Bob out with the cost of the repair. Following our intervention, Jaguar agreed Bob’s complaint was worthy of further consideration.
Executive case manager Rory Panton said: ‘On reflection of the facts, and the note that goodwill was not requested by the retailer at the time of the repair, we have reviewed our position.
‘As the vehicle would have been just over eight months out of warranty at the time, I feel that if a request for goodwill had been registered, Jaguar would have considered a contribution towards the parts and labour for the washer pump failure and subsequent water ingress into the junction box.
‘Therefore, I would like to offer you the sum of £641.68 – 50 per cent towards the total cost – which I trust you will agree is a fair and reasonable offer.’ On receiving the good news a grateful Bob said: ‘I had felt very disappointed at the service from Jaguar. They hadn’t even offered me 20 per cent off the labour, or anything like that.
‘The trouble is in this situation you’re fighting a big company and I don’t think I’d have got anywhere unless I’d got in touch with Streetwise. Thanks very much for your help.’