Seward Fiat, Havant: you made my list

I go into a panic when I see enginesA follow-up post to this article is located here.

A cautionary tale of one man’s dealings with one garage. That man would be me. That garage would be the Fiat garage run by the Seward dealership in Havant, Hampshire.

Let me tell you what I know about cars:

1. Cars get you to work. They do this in a faster and drier or cooler way than, say, walking or, heavens forbid!, taking the bike. They do this by taking you from the front door of your home to the car parking space right outside your office thereby making them preferable to public transport which requires two changes and two additional pedestrian-mode manoeuvres afterwards adding approximately one hour to the journey time.

2. Cars go vroom.

That’s the general overview as I see it. I know a few technical things too: I know that V16 engines have 8 more Vs than a V8. I don’t know what a V is or whether my Punto has any. There don’t appear to be any on the outside although some of the birdshit patterns might count so I could be wrong. I know that lifting up the bonnet is only to be attempted when the windscreen washer fluid runs out as dirty hands and confused panic is the price to pay. I know where to pour in the fluid. I know that my car runs on unleaded petrol. That’s the green pumps.

Basically, if I haven’t covered it already, then anything else requires a trip to the garage.

So, yesterday I got out to my car to find my driver’s-side wing mirror hanging at an odd angle. It had been hit. It happens a fair bit. Usually, it flicks back into place because that appears to be a design feature. There were a few problems this time though. Firstly, because of where my car was parked it was clear that the wing mirror had been hit by a pedestrian. A blind one, obviously. Secondly, and more importantly, it hadn’t been hit forwards or backwards, it had been hit down. Down is bad. Down equals broken. I haven’t ruled out the possibility that this was done on purpose as I hate all my neighbours (well, most people in general to tell the truth) and I think they know it but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for once.

Driving around with a wing mirror bouncing up and down alternately presenting views of the road, the wheels, the sky, that truck, my terrified face, that truck again, the road, etc. was not a pleasant experience. It was distracting and stressful. It also wasn’t "filling up the tank"-based or "filling up the washer fluid"-based which meant a call to the garage was required.

Me (sounding confident and knowledgeable so as not to get ripped off; handy hint there): Hi there, I’ve got a minor repair that needs doing.
Female Receptionist: Parts or service?
Me (using tone of voice that registers on some phone displays as "Forced Smile, Perspiring"): Hi there, I’ve got a minor repair that needs doing.
Receptionist: I’ll put you through to …
Man: Hello?
Me: Hi there, I’ve got a minor repair that needs doing.
Man: Okay, what’s the problem?
Me (audible sigh of relief, reverting back to confident and knowledgeable voice inflections): Yes, my mirror thing, the, er, wing mirror, my one, that is, on my right, it’s hanging off.
Man: What car is it?
Me: Punto.
Man: Is that the offside mirror?
Me: It’s the one near me when I drive. The driver’s mirror. On the outside. It’s hanging.
Man: That’s the offside mirror, right?
Me: Hi there, I’ve got a minor repair that needs doing.

Within a few minutes we’d ascertained that my knowledgeable and confident voice needed some work, that my wing mirror was black, that they had one in stock, and I could pop in and have it fixed: "shouldn’t be more than half an hour."

I knew the last part was code for "shouldn’t be more than 3 minutes but you’re going to get charged for half an hour’s labour" because I’m a software developer and we work using a similar system, only scaled up. Never mind, I’d soon have my car fixed.

It did not take half an hour. It did not even take thirty minutes. It took one hour and twenty minutes. And it cost £83. Eighty three pounds. For a wing mirror. Perhaps as a penalty for being offside. I’m not sure.


But it gets better.

I paid and sat in my car. I switched the engine on. I put my seatbelt on. I put the radio on. I looked at my wing mirror. Oops. It was pointing at my back wheel. Time to adjust the angle using the factory-fitted, standard Wing Mirror Lever Adjustment Tool That Moves The Mirror In Any Angle But The One You Think It Should™. I’m used to it now though.

I twiddled the lever in such a way as to form the pentagram that magically instructs the mirror to angle upwards. It went down. Sigh. Oh well, I can live with it all being arse-about-face can’t I? Anything for an easy life.

I cast the symbol for down, expecting up. It went further down.


I tried leftwards followed by rightwards and, incredibly, the mirror went leftwards and rightwards as expected. It also went down.

Ha ha! I thought while slightly fuming in my car in the car park outside the garage. I’m probably doing something wrong, silly me! I added silently inside my head.

Two minutes later I had used up all the lever spells I knew and had even resorted to using my hand to adjust the mirror manually. I had discovered that you could move the mirror upwards using your hand but that removing your hand from the mirror – the sort of thing you might be expected to do while, say, driving, for instance – caused the mirror to flip downwards once more.

I walked back into the garage. The male receptionist was waiting for me. As was his manager who had handed over the keys and taken my payment just a couple of hundred seconds earlier. Not present, you’ll note, were any mechanics.

"Something wrong, sir?"

Not people at my garage. Probably.I explained that I didn’t know much about cars despite my apparent confident knowledge earlier but that, despite this admission, using a wing mirror had still become like second nature and I considered myself if not an expert then certainly adept in the skill of looking in a mirror. And yet I was having difficulties.

I expected someone to follow me and show me what I was doing wrong. Part of me hoped that I wasn’t being an idiot and that I’d merely have to wait a little while longer while someone adjusted the mirror properly using spanners and chisels and lathes and whatever other weird mechanical tools garages use. Instead Mr Receptionist and El Manager Moustachio (on account of his large moustache and the fact that all moustaches are Mexican) looked at each other and tutted. They started talking to each other and I picked up phrases like "could be a very rare and almost unheard-of, dodgy wing mirror unit" and "well, there were those adjusting cables that looked a little damaged" and "well, we’ve got some more coming in on Wednesday."

You see: I think they knew. They didn’t consult a mechanic. They didn’t want to check my car over. I think they knew that they were fitting a piece of crap to replace the piece of crap on my car. They knew that more wing mirrors were coming in on Wednesday without checking. They knew all this and didn’t tell me. They possibly wanted me off the property before I noticed so that I could be charged again. For some incomprehendible reason they imagined that I wanted my wing mirror fixed so that I could keep an eye on my back tyre or that I was three foot shorter than I appeared and the angle was perfect.

The people who committed this act are the staff at Seward Fiat, Havant. You might conclude that they are a bunch of untrustworthy, incompetent fuckers although I couldn’t possibly make any personal comment against them for legal reasons.

That’s Seward Fiat, the Fiat dealers in Havant, Hampshire. Just in case someone’s looking for a Fiat dealership in or around the Portsmouth, Hampshire, or possibly even West Sussex area, the dealership that sells and repairs Fiat cars is the Seward Fiat based in Havant next to Bedhampton train station. I wouldn’t want someone looking to buy or fix a Fiat (whether that’s a Punto, like mine, or some other car in the Fiat car range (the Stilo perhaps, or the Seicento, maybe)) to confuse this particular Fiat garage with some other car showroom or dealer.

And just in case you think this may be a little unfair on the garage I’d like to add that this isn’t the first time I’ve had problems with them (but it should be the last): on my last service I pointed out that the car veered to the left and may have had a slow puncture in the passenger-side, front tyre. I got my car back with an assurance that they couldn’t find anything wrong, had rotated all my tyres over (front-to-back, left-to-right), and that I should come back for some (chargeable) investigation if there were any more problems. Well, there were. My car still veered left and – amazingly! – the front left tyre still showed signs of a slow puncture. Despite being rotated over. I mean, you know I don’t know much about cars, but even I worked out that if my front left tyre was now swapped with my back right tyre it should, theoretically, cause a slow puncture in the back right, rather than, say, still there in the front left. Unless they hadn’t rotated the tyres over. But that would mean they’d lied. Nah! So, I stopped in a tyre shop on my way to work and just asked the overall-wearing grease-monkey to replace the tyre. And the guy did so in front of my eyes. And then he looked shocked. And so did I. It was the absolutely huge nail embedded in the centre of the tyre. Not something you could see normally but certainly the sort of thing that a) causes slow punctures, and b) you’d notice if you ever took the tyre off to, say, rotate the tyre as part of a service.

I should have learnt my lesson then but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. However, Seward Fiat, Havant: you have now made my list.

A follow-up post to this article is located here.

Author: Mark

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  1. Why in the world did you go back, then? Looking at the pretty picture of what actually occurs there, I can only think of one reason why I would go, and I don’t even own a car.

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  2. Welcome to the world of women drivers! I once had a cross-thread on one of my brake pipes (I sound knowledgable, I am not really) and had called out the nice man. Well, the brake fluid light came on, and he told me it was a cross-threaded brake pipe. He towed me to Brighton. I called another nice man, told them I had a cross-threaded brake pipe, and they took the car away for 3 days. When I got it back, they told me they had changed all the brake pads, and it was all fine now. Huh? What happened to the cross-threaded brake pipe? After much arguing, and returning car to garage, they discovered, oh, actually, I also have a cross-threaded brake pipe, which would take 3 days to fix as they didn’t have the part. I stamped my feet, and shouted, and got a hire car for a week while they sorted it! Thieving bastards!

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  3. i thought i was the only one getting it up the exhaust from these shady mash-chanics. my darling car has been out of my possession for three days so far — the longest i have been without it. "thai ming built," i thunk in response to the mechanic’s diagnosis. i know my car is japanese but i was sure that the part had a comparable english name. turns out that i was simply retarded and it later dawned on me that he meant "timing belt."

    holy expensive repair job batman!

    my timing belt broke and i took it to this one guy who charged me 300 dollars to repair it. of course, you know, that by repair he meant "put in new parts and configure them incorrectly enough so that the car will start, but you won’t notice it isn’t working properly until you are 10 miles away," so i drive my car home and finally notice it’s not working properly.

    THAT CUNTinually bothered me.

    now my car is at another repair shop. another 300 dollars i am sure. thinking about it, i should have just let my dad fix it. when i was growing up, he sure was good with those belts and i have the scars across my back to prove it!

    hope your "wing" is ok mark. ha ha ha. you funny british people. "wing" ha ha ha! side view mirror sounds better to me.

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  4. Cheeba!

    You’re alive!

    When’s your damned semi-annual update going to occur?

    You crazy, lazy, hazy Americans. Side view? We just turn our heads to view the sides. Those mirrors are wing mirrors because they’re on the wings of our cars. Yes. That’s right. British cars have wings. To defeat the hun should they ever attack us again. Oh Chitty, you Chitty, pretty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love you. Everybody!

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  5. touche!

    and as for that update, i dunno. being on the brink of insanity sorta hinders your writing abilities a bit i’d say. going through one of those "times" in my life, hope to be back soon though.

    in the meantime, i’ll live my interweb life vicariously through neOnbubble and be entertained as if i was writing this stuff myself (since i ruled out plagarizing all of your material about two seconds ago).

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  6. Well you’ve cheered me right up. Although i dont have a clue what you’ve written past the pic of those two strapping young naked lads up there, feverishly and diligently inpecting that car.
    Why that’s got to be the muscliest (sp?) and most contoured bit of bodywork i’ve seen in a long time. And the car’s not bad either. *cough* Hyyyy thankyou!
    So this garage aint far from me.
    They all work with that dress code?
    I’m there.

    (also… that car in the pic (the good pic), that’s an escort isnt it? Can someone verify that for me? It’s annoying me.)
    (I really like cars by the way)
    (they turn me on)
    (subaru impreza)

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  7. Fluffy – trust me when I say that the dress code may be right but the physiques are deficient in certain areas.

    And Subaru Impreza? I’m an Aston Martin man myself. Vantage.

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  8. Can I be pedantic for just a moment? Oh. Well I’m going to be anyway They are called wing mirrors, because they USED to be on the wing of the car. Now they are on the door. So, in theory, we should all be calling them door mirrors (which I think they are in the manual for my car).

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  9. oh p.s.
    does that pic come without the censored bit?

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  10. My sympathies. I once had service at a Rover dealership that forgot to actually screw the nuts up that held the tyre on the wheel.

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