The vast majority of us own cars and this inevitably means dreaded trips to the garage for essential (frequently costly) maintenance and repairs, not to mention legal requirements such as MOT. In a recent conversation I had with Stephanie Gutierrez of Victory Autos, she astutely highlighted that after our properties, our cars are usually the most expensive purchase that we make. Finding a reputable and trustworthy garage that will take care of that costly investment suddenly seems pretty vital to vehicle-owning households.
For many families these days, the responsibility of maintaining cars falls on women. With the majority of stay-at-home parents being mums, it is often more convenient in the week to run the car down to the garage when the need arises. However, women still feel that they are getting a bum deal when they have to take their car to the mechanic. You don’t have to look very far into the media to find that women feel they are getting ripped off when they have to visit the garage. Women report that they are being over-charged, that they are being treated like idiots and are sometimes on the receiving end of unashamed sexism, amongst other offences.
Although I don’t find this surprising, this news makes me pretty sad. You see, I am lucky enough to have the best garage. Yes, I realise that this may seem like an exaggeration, but it is the truth. My in-laws have been visiting Delta Autos in Wimbledon for donkey’s – twelve years, if not more. It started with Ian’s aunty/non-biological mum/his mum’s best friend, Mary (rest her beautiful soul). She used to take their family car there – an old Mondeo, and more recently a newer Mondeo. When I moved back down to London from Lancaster and bought my much-missed old car (a Seat Leon Cupra Mk1), I needed a trustworthy garage I could take it to. Ian recommended Delta as they were local and his family were long-standing customers.
It was a welcome recommendation as I’ve had so many bad experiences with garages in the past. I’ve walked into garages and have been totally ignored by guys who aren’t doing much more than standing around scratching their bums. I’ve been encouraged to unnecessarily spend a load of money by garages that assumed I was an idiot. I’ve even had my car (my beloved Leon Cupra) damaged by a garage (anyone heard of Kwik Fit?). Kwik Fit totally denied it at the time, as I hadn’t noticed the damage until I got home. Cowboys.
But anyway, this is supposed to be a positive post, so we’ll leave all that complaining behind us. Since taking my cars to Delta, I’ve left behind the days of feeling like I’m going to be ripped off and charged the earth for unnecessary work. For example, I once went in to ask them how much life I had left in my brakes. How many garages do you know would tell you that you’ve got a few thousand more miles left, and to go away and use them until they truly need replacing? This happened. If I had walked into any other garage asking them to check how much life my brakes had left, they probably would have whipped them all off and convinced me the gearbox needed replacing while I was at it. The guys at Delta will never try and convince you to have work done that you don’t need on your car. Fact.
Delta never make you feel like an idiot, even though you I may well be one. No question is deemed too stupid, no problem too simple for them to sort (even if you could do so yourself). I’ve headed over there with a query about an unfamiliar warning light on my dashboard. Turns out it was for the tyre pressure, and instead of merely resetting it and telling me to go on my way, they kindly inflated my tyres, totally free of charge (when I’m more than capable of using the air machine at the petrol station to do so myself).
Furthermore, the team at Delta are always incredibly friendly and greet you as soon as you walk through the door, which is good because I’m a stickler for decent customer service, and being acknowledged when you walk in is paramount to great customer service.
I think that all of this good stuff is a testament to that fact that they are a proud family business. Founded back in 1990 by mechanic Martin and his wife Pam, they have clearly injected a lovely work ethic into their company. It is obvious that they value their customers by the way they treat them, and it is so refreshing that companies like this still exist amongst a myriad of large, impersonal chains.
They’ve since been joined by their son James who is one of their mechanics, and also a director. I remember when I first started going to Delta, Martin was usually there and would always have a chat with us (Ian and I) as if he’d known us for years. He once admitted that he sometimes thought he recognised faces, assumed he’d met them as customers and had a good old chat with them, despite not being 100% if he’d ever met them before. This made me chuckle, as he was always so sweet and lovely to chat to, despite the possibility that he may have had no idea who we were! I must admit that I had similar experiences being a nurse in a big hospital – lots of faces recognised me out and about, but I didn’t have the same recall.
My mother-in-law has fond memories of talking to Pam when she used to take the car in. This must have been years ago though, as I only remember Mary going over there. These days we see James more often than his dad, and he seems to have inherited the gift of the gab – I think he talks more than I do, which really is an achievement, especially for a fella.
My mother-in-law tells me that she’s put as much work their way as she can, recommending Delta to all of her local friends. I’ve done the same, recommending them to friends and family in the area. Now that my dad is retired, he says he’ll be taking his car their way when the need arises, as he’s no longer based in Gatwick.
Speaking of remaining local, this moves me onto us. You may have read that we’re thinking about moving out of the area at some point, and there isn’t much of London that we’re going to miss. However, as well as our hairdresser Lee, of Headmasters, we will seriously miss our brilliant garage here in Wimbledon/Merton. I literally wouldn’t know where to begin to find a trustworthy lot like Delta. The thought fills me with dread. Really.
In the meantime, our car and our van both need a service and the car may need an exhaust, although we’re a long way off it hanging off just yet. And these may well be the last few bits that we get done before we buy a house out of the area.
So if you’re local to south Wimbledon/Merton and need a brilliant mechanic, head over to Delta Autos and complimentary business Wimbledon Tyres (James’ baby – it does exactly what it says on the tin). I cannot recommend them highly enough and I know that most of you have cars, so will need a mechanic sooner or later!
While you wait for your car you can take a stroll around the arty and crafty Merton Abbey Mills (where you’re more than likely to bump into me), have a wander along the (river) Wandle, or head to the local shops Savacentre or the Tandem Centre for a spot of retail therapy.
For more information, Delta Autos have two websites, www.deltaautos.co.uk and brand new website www.wimbledontyres.co.uk. I don’t know about you, but I think being able to connect with services like these on social media is brilliantly handy. If you have a quick query that you may not even need to head into the garage for, or if you simply want to get a feel for the people who will be working on your car, social media is definitely the way forward. It is great to see businesses that traditionally haven’t utilised Twitter, Facebook et al venturing into the world of connectivity.
And just in case you were wondering, this isn’t a sponsored post – I merely wanted to share our little bit of automobile heaven with you all.
Do you have an amazing mechanic?
What kind of experiences have you had with your local garage?
And do you have any car-related questions that you’d love to ask my trusted and recommended mechanic team at Delta?
Pop your comments and questions in the comments below, as well as sharing your stories.