My Good Garage Experience


Rob gets to work - to replace a speed sensor on my offside rear tyre
Rob gets to work - to replace a speed sensor on my offside rear tyre

I had a rather pleasurable experience yesterday.

Before you start thinking too deeply as to what this means, I’d better explain.

Yesterday (Tuesday November 3rd) I had my car MOT’d and serviced by a rather good independent garage – TJ Hall & Son, who are based on the outskirts of Oxford.

Members of both Motor Codes and the Good Garage Scheme, I believe they represent how an independent garage should be run.

Hence my MOT and service was a pleasurable affair, rather than the ‘not-sure-if-I-might-have-been-conned’ type experience most of us have had in the past.


Before I extol their virtues, I should say that I have always been a keen exponent of the independent garage.

This was true long before I took the reins at the publishing helm of CAT.

My last job was based on an industrial estate in Daventry.

Just around the corner was a garage called A&S Refinishing, who were superb. But why? Well…

  1. The technicians there would, for no extra cost, give me basic car maintenance help
  2. If I wanted advice, they’d give it happily
  3. They offered excellent service and knowledge for much less than you’d pay at a dealer

In short, A&S – like TJ Hall & Son – offered everything that is good about the indy garage trade.

But since moving jobs almost three years ago, I’ve struggled to find somewhere as good near my new home.

In fact, two of the local garages to me, were pretty poor in terms of customer service, as I have written about in this blog before.


So when I met Rob Hall in January 2009 at the CAT Awards, I had a chat with him.

He’d just been voted our Technician of the Year and said: “Bring your car along to us then next time it needs something doing.”

So I did yesterday; for my Beemer’s MOT and a small pre-winter check-up.

And I enjoyed the experience. For the first time since I used A&S, I had found a garage that was perfect for me. This was because…

  1. …Rob explained clearly everything he was doing, both during the MOT test and afterwards when he was doing the work required for it to pass
  2. The pricing policy was clear and very fair
  3. Customer service was obviously a priority – I was well looked after, everyone was friendly

Sceptics among you may well say that this is because I work for CAT.

Well, I don’t think that’s the case. I was charged the same amount for the same work that anyone would get charged. I got treated the same as other clients.

Other cars were being repaired too.

These were cars that had been picked up that morning at their owners’ work places, driven to the garage, and at the end of the day would be dropped back again when the work was finished.

All FOC as part of the service.

Now that’s not bad. The customer clearly comes first.

Another thing I liked about TJ Hall – and A&S – was that they give their customers options and explain clearly what the different options mean.

Like on oil.

“There wouldn’t be any point putting a top-end oil into one of the battered Peugeots the youngsters round here drive,” said Rob.

So when it came to paying the bill at the end of my visit, it was actually a pleasure to do so.

I knew what I was paying for and I knew I had got value for money.

Dealerships had better watch out: if TJ Hall and A&S are anything to go by, the independents are getting their act together!


Finally, I had better mention that all the garages nominated in this year’s Garage of the Year category are first class.

Dakar, who won it last year, are simply excellent – and I would recommend them, along with ABP Motorsport, Automotive Diagnostic Solutions, Complete Car Maintenance and JAZ Porshe, very highly too.

So get voting… should you have a favourite, of course!

Rob's sister Sarah: she's the brains behind the admin at TJ Hall. She also looks after customers
Rob's sister Sarah: she's the brains behind the admin at TJ Hall. She also looks after customers

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  1. It is difficult to find a garage that gives you superb service and value for money BUT we need to support them back as all too quckly good garages are closing.