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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

When you're shopping online it pays to check out the companies you're dealing with carefully, before you hand over your hard-earned cash.

Howard Thomas from Llangadog found this out to his cost when he sent his Land Rover off in December to a garage based near Heathrow Airport. He’d found the company online at a website called reconditioned-engines.co.uk.

Howard Thomas

Howard Thomas

He put in his contact details and a couple of days later the company called him back. Howard told X-Ray they offered to pick up his car, recondition the engine and have it back within a week’s time for just over £1,500.

After they'd assessed his vehicle, Howard received an Engine Report from a company called Bray Engineering Ltd and the price for the repairs had increased to more than £3,000. After negotiations, Howard tells us he agreed a price of £2,285 and although he wanted to pay via his credit card - as the company didn't offer this option - Howard agreed to pay all the money up front using a bank transfer.

And now four months later, Howard is still without his wheels.

Lucy met Howard and told him a few careful internet searches could have set alarm bells ringing - and she showed him how he could have spotted the warning signs.

A Land Rover on a trailer


The website he used doesn’t seem to have a company name – just a company number. When Lucy searched the Companies House website it did confirm the firm’s name to be Bray Engineering Ltd, not Reconditioned Engines as Howard had first thought.

Searching online for “Bray Engineering” didn’t yield much information, just the names of other unrelated firms.

But when Lucy took a more careful look at the reconditioned-engines.co.uk website she found that the company also refers to itself as The Engine Center, based at 169 Brent Road, Southall. A search on this – with the American spelling for Center – then found a host of websites with complaints from angry customers.

While you can’t be sure that bad reviews online are true, if you see a large number it’s certainly worth asking questions before you part with your money. Howard was shocked by what he read and is now worried about what will happen to his car, even though the company has written to X-Ray apologising for the delay and saying he will get it back within 10 working days.

“Ten days – that’s what they quoted me before Christmas. It’s very worrying. I’ve paid a lot of money and I worry if I’ll ever see my car again,” he said.



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