Many Testers and Authorised Examiners have, at some time or another, suffered the anxious experience of attending a VOSA ‘Appeal’ Test following a complaint from a motorist about the MOT outcome – pass or fail. There are too many uncertainties to ever contemplate an Appeal Test with an easy mind.
There are, however, a few important ‘do’s and don’ts’…
If you attend a VOSA ‘Appeal’ re-Test of a vehicle, always take a camera so you can take your own pictures on items about which an issue might arise.
It is always an anxious, nerve wracking experience attending a VOSA ‘Appeal’ Test following an MOT complaint, there are, however, a some important ‘do’s and don’t’s’ to remember. Appeal Tests are either against an MOT (VT17), or more likely these days, an, ‘inverted’ appeal against the issue of a pass certificate (VT17i).
Over the years the annual number of Appeal Tests doesn’t change very much at all, it rarely goes below about 1,600, or above 2,000 in any year. Set against 27 million Tests annually, that’s about 0.007%. Very few indeed, indicating that the vast, vast majority of motorists are happy with their MOT
If a failed item is challenged it’s relatively straightforward, but inverted appeals are much more prevalent and difficult. Here’s where we’re focussing our attention.
MOT ‘Appeals’ are made for varied reasons. The car, perhaps recently purchased with a new MOT from your garage, is being serviced and the owner is told, “…your car shouldn’t have passed the MOT…” So they Appeal the Test. The first you hear is a call from VOSA giving you a date, and inviting you to witness the Appeal examination. Attend the inspection if you can. But if the car is hundreds of miles away, and it’s a problem, try and get either an MOT Consultant, or somebody from your Trade Body to attend for you. It could be money well spent…
A call from the customer, or the garage
A Case study
The owner of a small “Jaguar specialist” who was servicing a car we had Tested the previous week called saying the car’s suspension joints were “worn, and dangerous” and, “shouldn’t have passed the MOT”. He estimated £900, to fix it; if we paid up, he wouldn’t tell VOSA. I immediately called my local VE and told him what had happened and went to see the car.
The business was on a farm. There were two vehicle lifts, one in front of the other with the scant floor space around them littered with old suspension components – and to get a vehicle onto the lift furthest you had first to drive it over the lift at the front! It wasn’t a Testing Station.
A long lever
Despite my explaining that the car was OK for an MOT on a ‘pass and advise’ basis, the owner insisted I pay for the work. I politely told him I wouldn’t be blackmailed and had already called VOSA myself. Concerned about my blackmail accusation he took a more conciliatory line. He said the car being dangerous worried him, and asked if he was being “ripped off”. I suggested he appeal the Test and let VOSA play referee – which he did.
The Appeal Test
The VEs started the Test. I couldn’t see much from the ‘viewing area’, so asked to observe from the open front of the bay. They agreed. Eventually we were called over to the nearside rear of the car where a VE levered the suspension, indicating some wear. He said the MOT was fine, but we should have ‘advised’ that joint as having some wear – “Phew!”
But what if the complainant calls you first? That’s still trouble, especially if there’s a blatant blackmail threat demanding payment to fix the alleged defect – or they’ll go to VOSA if you don’t.
Tip 1: However that telephone call ‘pans out’, call VOSA immediately. Explain what’s happened; the car details, when you got the call (date and time) and the name of the caller. Afterwards note whom you spoke to at VOSA, (again record the date and time) and precisely what you said.
This ‘contemporaneous record’ is important. If your Tester has ‘fouled up’, provided you’re not complicit in what’s happened, as AE you shouldn’t get any disciplinary points, because you first alerted VOSA to the problem.
Remember ‘Customer service’…
Always remember, the person you’re dealing with is also your customer – and deserves your best efforts to solve their problem. So listen to what they say so you understand the issue, and why they think the MOT wasn’t done properly. If another garage has said so, try and find out if it’s an MOT garage. If the customer is local, offer to look at the car to see if the Tester has indeed made a mistake. Often there’s no real issue; the other garage may simply not understand how the MOT works. Try and resolve things directly.
Sometimes however, that ‘blackmail’ threat, “pay to get my problem fixed, or I’ll go to VOSA” is still there. For VOSA, the only proper course of action is to suggest the caller lodges an ‘Appeal’ with them. And tell the customer that in any case you will be reporting it to VOSA yourself(and do so) – that might then be the end of it – or not…
Observing the Test…
If VOSA call, they’ll have arranged to re-examine the vehicle at a Testing Station, and should give you at least 24 hours notice to attend. Attend if you can, and if you do, take a pen and a notebook, and a camera. The Vehicle Examiners checking the car will probably have their own camera, so you should take one too to collect your own visual photographic evidence.
Closely observe the Test. Has the VE conducted it correctly? Was anything missed? Were the correct procedures used to check components? Was the equipment similar to that in your own Testing Station? Was the assessment of wear reasonable? Keep a close eye on every aspect of the VE’s re-examination, in my experience VEs aren’t always perfect!
At the end of the Test the VE will call you over and either say everything is OK, (relief!), or say there’s problems. These could be serious or only minor.
The VE doing the Test (one is just assisting) will then suggest you and your Tester look at what he’s found – and specifically ask the Tester (who did the original inspection), if he or she agrees they got it wrong.
Tip 2: Testers should not, in any circumstances respond to such a question, no matter how obvious it may seem on the day that a mistake may have been made.