On 13 November I went to my local Halfords store and asked for the following to be replaced and fitted on site:
Headlamp bulb - £12.99
Front Wipers - £18.00
Rear Wipers - £9.00
Fitting - £8, £4.00 & £2.00 respectively
The new headlamp bulb didn't work and I was asked to refer to a mechanic. I went to my local supplier, Terriers Autos in High Wycombe who checked the headlamp and quickly surmised that the fault was a blown fuse. He asked me why Halfords hadn't picked this up since it was a simple exercise - I didn't have an answer.
Whilst there, I mentioned that the driver door would not longer open/lock with my key and I had to use the passenger door for this. He replaced the battery in my key (I had paid another supplier a total of nearly £150 to fit new lock mechanisms which didn't work).
My total bill for new fuse and replacement key battery (including fitting) was £7!
The lovely Julian, owner of Terriers Autos, charged £4 for the fuse (and informed me he would have charged £4 for a bulb had that been the problem) plus £3 for the remote battery, £0 for fitting. Julian told me he would have charged £12 for all three wipers and no fitting charge. All in all, I would have saved £37.99 by going to him in the first place plus another £150 for the key battery by going to a mechanic who actually knows what he is doing!
Women like me, who know absolutely nothing about cars, get conned regularly. However, I am surprised that an organisation like Halfords doesn't apply a fairer and more realistic pricing policy. If my local mechanic can still make a profit from charging £4 for a headlamp bulb, how can Halfords justify selling exactly the same item for £12.99? Similarly with the wipers, my mechanic would have charged £8 for the front wipers and Halfords charged £18, and finally my mechanic would have charged £4 for the rear, as opposed to Halfords extortionate £9. I don't begrudge the fitting charges - I think they are fair enough - but the profit hike on the parts is utterly appalling!
Another observation about the bulb versus fuse issue - are these very young Saturday lads properly trained? If they didn't pick up a simple fuse issue, or indeed even look to see if that was why the new bulb didn't work, it makes me wonder how much they actually know and how safe we are when they replace important parts such as lights?