My garage has charged an exploration fee - do I have any redress?

My daughter bought a 10k mile MINI Cooper in March 2015. In December, at £20k miles, the clutch failed. Guildford MINI Centre would not entertain a warranty claim unless a £900 'exploration fee' was paid. This would be refunded if the warranty covered the failure. Guess what the result was? They then charged an additional £500 for replacement of the clutch parts.
1 They should have known that the clutch is weak on this model and that the failure would almost certainly be due to wear and tear, ie non-warranty.
2 How can the exploration fee exceed the cost of the repair?
3 'Exploration' must involve removal of the clutch so the majority of the repair work was already done.
While she unwisely agreed to the garage's recommendations, this is sharp practice and other owners should be aware of the 'exploration' scam. Does she have any chance of pursuing them for an unfair business practice?

Asked on 22 December 2015 by Camembert

Answered by Honest John
I'd challenge the £900 "exploration fee" on the basis you outline and tell them that if it is not refunded, or if the total £1400 cost is not bundled into a sensible cost of replacement of the clutch alone you will take the matter to the Small Claims Track of the County Court. I'd say the cost of replacing the clutch should be about £600.
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