Kinghams of Croydon...................
My heater fan stopped working. I checked the fuses and relay - all ok. At 130k it seemed likely it was worn out so I took it to my local reliable garage but they didn't have an electrician available.
It was still a bit cold and damp so I thought I needed to get it fixed - try the local dealer, Kinghams.
I got a great spiel from Keith Kingham about Auto-Italia (remember them on garages from hell) and how bad Alfa are at looking after their dealers and how he has been in busines for ever and knows them inside out. Bring it in and we'll stick it on the computer - minimum charge of £95 for an hour's labour. I fell for it!
After a while they told me that the fuses and relay were ok (!) so they would have to delve a little deeper - seems the computer no longer held the answer.
Eventually (2 hours labour) they told me the motor had failed. Would I like to sit down with a cup of coffee. The pollen filter was clogged (where had I had it serviced?!?) and that had overloaded the motor - it needed a new heater at £850 plus labour. After agonising over whether to scrap the car, I decided to go ahead and they placed the order.
That evening, a quick look on this forum showed that heater motors are available so I rang them the following morning, cancel the heater and order a motor please. Seems my local 'main dealer' was unable to get the the part number off his computer. I rang my helpful local garage who told me to avoid Kinghams - they don't know what day of the week it is! Steve recommended another Alfa supplier who gave me the part number and quoted £109 +VAT.
Keith Kingham ordered it without comment or politeness.
On the Tuesday he told me that they had fitted the new motor (and replaced the blown fuse - remember the one that hadn't failed?) but the new motor had also failed. Now I was either unlucky and the new motor was faulty or my car was faulty - they couldn't quite explain how that could be. I told him that I understood that the feed to the motor would simply be 12 volts. It should be easy to check and it shouldn't be possible for the car to blow a good motor. Keith raised his game to new heights of patronising crap. Cars nowadays are very complicated and need computers to understand them, you can't simply fix them with a meter and a screwdriver. With my degree in engineering, 10 years as a test engineer at Vauxhalls and over 20 years in computing, I'd had enough.
The choice was fit a replacement motor (which he had ordered) with no guarantee of success or let them put it back together and go away. I won't go into their amateur explanations of what moght be wrong, I simply took the later option. The cost - £720. Labour was actually £95 +VAT and the motors (2) were £125.82 each. Plus VAT of course.
I thought I'd continue to use the heater without the fan but the ICU now told me that things were not connected. I took a look. Most of the cover panels were no longer fastened down and the fixings were missing so it wasn't hard! I connected the fan and everything worked beautifully and has done ever since.
I rang to claim back the cost of the 2nd motor, only Keith could authorise such a thing so it took several calls over 3 working days plus a visit.
I haven't bothered about the various missing fixings largely, I don't want them to touch the car again.
Seems Croydon has another garage from hell.