Can I claim from a car wash company for breaking my Volkswagen Passat's rear wiper spindle?

On 2nd Nov 2010 my local garage car wash ripped the rear wiper off my 2002 Volkswagen Passat, breaking the arm at the spindle. The cost of repairs will be £273. I reported this to the manageress of the garage who gave me the contact details of the car wash insurance company. I telephoned the insurance agent who said I should write or email details to him, which I duly did. He emailed back a week or so later refuting my claim. I checked with the manageress of the garage. She said she had not been contacted by the insurance agent, so the only investigation he carried out was to read the accident form provided by her, which supported my claim.

I decided to take this up with the oil company customer care department. I telephoned them at least nine times and always I got a recorded message saying that if I leave a message they would get back to me, but they never do. I propose to write to them, this apparently being the only way I can contact them, but I would be really grateful to hear your comments/advice first.

Asked on 6 December 2010 by MS, Five Oak Green, Kent

Answered by Honest John
There will be a notice at the entrance to the carwash stating you use it at your own risk and the owners will not be liable for any damage, etc. That does not get them out of their public liability to maintain the thing properly, but the handling agent stated that it was working properly, there were no faults and there were no other problems with any other vehicles that day. What could have happened is that the spring in the wiper arm snapped allowing it to flop free and be gathered up by the rotating brush and torn off by it. This is the most common reason for rear wipers being torn off in carwashes. It has happened to other readers.

So you would only have a case if you could prove that other vehicles had been damaged that day. Maybe a local newspaper or local internet forum, or even a postcard in a newspaper shop window would enable you to find any others. Once you did you could claim for your time as well as the damage, using the letter from the insurance agent to prove that the insurance agent had lied.
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