Dear Renew-it Rivonia

If you follow me over on twitter , you’ll know by now that over the last two and a half months I’ve had a rather awfuldelightful” run-in with a local repair company. Knowing what I know now I wish I had included all of the car related tweets in a single thread to make it easier to follow, but unfortunately I ONLY started doing this on 21 January 2020…the partial thread is still however rather amusing (in retrospect) and tells a story of broken promises and awful service.

At the time (and for various reasons I won’t go into here) I decided to keep their name off social media while they were still in possession of my vehicle and while I was trying to get them to fix the mess they made. But now that my vehicle has FINALLY been returned to me, in what appears to be the condition it should be, it’s finally time to tell the whole story. In fact, at this point I actually believe that it is my civic duty to warn other people against this company. Trust me…whatever you do….don’t make use of Renew-It Rivonia. I’d also like to warn you that this is a long read and if you’re not interested in the details you can just skip to the end…but facts are important.

It all started on the afternoon of 25 November 2019 when a random entitled idiot decided he had the right to invade my space and tried to break into my car. He was, thankfully, unsuccessful, but left me with a small dent and a messed up lock. While the locking system still worked, I was unable to lock/unlock the vehicle using the key, and the dealer informed me that they couldn’t replace the lock without the dent being fixed.


As the excess on my vehicle insurance is extremely low I immediately contacted my insurance company to log a claim…It was my first claim through them and it was (as insurance companies go) pretty painless. They provided me with a list of dealer and insurer approved repair centers to choose from. I scanned the list and picked the supplier most conveniently located for me based on the location of my home and my office. What I probably should have done is googled my chosen supplier…..this would have saved me a lot of anger and frustration. Instead, I foolishly assumed that a company endorsed by my insurer should be able to deliver a fairly reasonable service. Experience would teach me that this was a mistake…one I will never make again…I assure you.

The next two and a half months can be summarised as follows:

  • 27 November 2019 – Tried to make a booking online for a quote from Renew-It Rivonia through their website as I had to provide a quote to my insurer.
  • 28 November – 1 December 2019 – Unsuccessfully attempt to get anyone from Renew-It Rivonia to respond to my online query.
  • 2 December 2019 – Travel to Renew-It Rivonia, march through their doors and request someone to assist me with a quote. Which they finally do (HURRAY). The quote is for all of just over R12k, but as my excess is very low and my insurance does not have a claim free bonus clause, I was happy for my insurance to take this one. The quote is reviewed by an assessor and shortly afterwards approved by my insurer.
  • 5 December 2019 – Book my car in at Renew-It Rivonia. Before I book in my vehicle I confirm with them that I require my vehicle to be ready for collection no later than 19 December 2019, as we will be traveling quite extensively in my vehicle over the holidays. Accommodation had already been booked and paid for. They promise that the work should take an absolute maximum of 7 working days, which is well before the 19th. I go on my merry way and collect my insurance provided courtesy vehicle.
  • 6 – 9 December 2019 – Receive absolutely no feedback from Renew-It Rivonia. I finally managed to get a hold of someone during the course of the 9th and was merrily informed that my vehicle would be ready for collection on 26 December 2019. I politely declined to accept this and stated that the vehicle will be ready on the 19th as promised when I booked it in. The Customer service agent claims to know nothing of this deadline but stated that she would get back to me. (of course no one got back to me and no one responded to my multiple messages for someone to contact me with an update as promised)
  • 10 December 2019 – Finally receive a call from Renew-It Rivonia stating that the vehicle will be ready on 13 December 2019 for collection and they will update me on a daily basis.
  • 11 – 12 December 2019 – Absolutely no updates with no-one returning any calls or responding to emails.
  • 13 December 2019 – Vehicle is not ready as promised. I only know this because I called several times (note that no one ever returns any calls/emails and no one ever calls you as promised). I’m informed the car will be ready on 18 December 2019.
  • 14 – 17 December 2019 – No updates from Renew-It Rivonia
  • 18 December 2019 – I receive a call during the course of the morning informing me that my vehicle will be ready for collection after 4pm. I make arrangements to return my rental vehicle. Literally as I leave the rental agency (15mins before i’m supposed to collect my vehicle) I receive a call from Renew-It informing me that during Quality Control they noted that the INCORRECT LOCK WAS INSTALLED IN THE DOOR. For the love of apple pie…can someone explain to me how that even happens? (Although currently i’m pretty sure this was a lie to try and delay my collection as the vehicle was in fact not ready). I’m told that the car will be ready at 18:00 on the same day as they have already sent someone to purchase the correct lock (yet another lie i’m sure). At 17:30 I receive another call informing me that the car will unfortunately not be ready but that I can collect it at 09:30 on the morning of the 19th.
  • 19 December 2019 – Surprisingly i receive no calls trying to cancel collection of my vehicle. However, upon arrival they delayed with over an hour before I was finally taken to my vehicle (clearly they still weren’t ready for me). As I approached my vehicle I actually started laughing. There were so many obvious things wrong with the car that I found it ludicrous that they were trying to claim it went through a quality control process at all. The snag list included:
    • A “kink” towards the bottom middle of the driver door (which they claimed was a paint issue (SPOILER ALERT: it wasn’t)
    • The lock and handle wasn’t installed correctly and was misaligned and looked completely warped
    • Paint defects on the door itself and the adjacent panels
    • Scratches on the inside of the door
    • Deep scratches in the pain on the frame of the vehicle where the driver door goes
    • The door itself was not installed correctly and was completely misaligned with the dashboard inside and the other panels on the outside
    • Door seals not re-installed correctly
    • Auto-close on the electric window was no longer working.
  • Considering that we were heading on holiday with my vehicle I was informed that I could take the vehicle and book it back in upon our return to JHB to fix the workmanship issues. I decided to do exactly that as we needed the vehicle for holiday purposes and at least it could lock and drove just fine. At this point I notified my insurer of the shocking service and workmanship and informed them that the vehicle would be going for rework at the cost of Renew-it.
  • 20 December – 5 January 2020 – HOLIDAYYYYYYY!
  • 6 January 2020 – 8AM: Contact the customer service agent assigned to my case directly via email in order to arrange for the vehicle to be booked back in. The service agent only got back to me around 4 that afternoon stating that the work would only take 1 day (SPOILER ALERT: it didn’t) and as such no courtesy vehicle would be provided. I respond to inform her that I highly doubt their estimated time frame due to the nature of the issues and insist on a courtesy vehicle as I simply can’t be left without transport.
  • 7 – 8 January 2020: I try to call/email Renew-It Rivonia several times without any luck. As previously mentioned nobody is ever available when you call, nobody responds to messages left with the receptionist and no one responds to your emails.
  • 9 January 2020 – (very late in the day) I finally receive a response insisting that it would only take 1 working day, but that i would be updated should there be a delay. I’m informed i can book my vehicle in on the 14th of January, but unfortunately they would not be able to provide me with a courtesy vehicle.
  • 10 January 2020 – I inform them that i can book the vehicle in any time but that based on past experience I must insist on a courtesy vehicle. The agent responds a few hours later and informs me that she would contact me on Monday the 13th to confirm details as there are currently no vehicles available.
  • 13 January 2020 – Surprise surprise, despite a promise to get back to me to finalise arrangements I didn’t hear from them and no-one responded to my calls/emails. I’m subsequently notified that i can book my vehicle in on 16 January 2020 and that a vehicle will be provided.
  • 16 January 2020 – I go to book in my vehicle.
    • This process took them over 1.5 hours…how is this even possible
    • Once the customer agent inspected the vehicle with me she proceeded to inform me how it is human nature to exaggerate and over react. Now what I’d like to point out is that up until this point (and honestly right up until the point when I finally collected my vehicle) I had been nothing but professional and cordial. While I have made it clear that their service has not been great I have never shouted, never been rude, never called anyone names or acted like a complete bitch. And while you may think whatever the hell you like of me you do NOT tell your client that they are over reacting and exaggerating when YOUR company screwed up (even if they are over reacting – which I didn’t). I calmly proceeded to confirm that all these things that I pointed out were in fact wrong with the vehicle….which she confirmed. I was not happy AT ALL. But I decided to keep my cool and deal with this at a later stage. This was not the time for this argument.
    • She once again insists that the issues are minor paint problems and that I would receive my vehicle back within one working day.  She once again confirmed verbally the same promise I was given in several emails – They would be in contact if for whatever reason there was any delay.
  • 17 January 2020 – Now…for any normal person one working day would equate to 24 hours later as long as it was business days right? So….as the 16th was a Thursday I was fully expecting to have my vehicle back by the same time on the 17th that I booked it in. For good measure and, because I’m clearly too nice, I was quite happy to collect it by COB on the 17th (technically more than a working day but acceptable). Great was my surprise (no not really) when by 17:00 on Friday the 17th I had not received a call or an email with any update on my car. And of course at 17:00 you can no longer reach anyone by phone and no-one had responded to my emails.
  • 18 January 2020 – This place is also open on a Saturday. So at 9am I started calling them in the hopes of being able to collect my car. When asking for my allocated service agent I was informed that she was busy, but that they would give her a message. I called again an hour later and  was informed that she wasn’t there. I calmly requested to speak to a manager. I was informed that the manager was unfortunately busy but that they would take a message and ask her to call me back (yeah sure). An hour and a half passed without any feedback so I called again. When I got the same story I told the receptionist that unfortunately, since no one ever calls me back, I will not be leaving a message. I need to speak to the manger NOW. At which point my call was promptly transferred and the manager answered (so much for not being available). Once I explained my situation as calmly as I could I was informed that while it wasn’t an excuse my agent had been rushed to hospital the day before as she collapsed at work. This would probably explain why my vehicle fell through the cracks and no one contacted me. I’m sure by now you would excuse me for not quite being willing to believe this story. It was just too convenient. Not to mention that even if it were true, surely any company worth their salt would have sent a notification to all affected customers on the system??? Instead they left me with no idea where my vehicle was or when I’d get it back or even a notification that somebody would be in contact. The manager however had no idea what was happening with my car but assured me that she would contact me on the Monday morning. She even provided me with her mobile number and requested that I send her a Whatsapp when I can’t get a hold of her.
  • 20 January 2020 – Of course I don’t get any feedback from the manager until 19:30 that evening (of course I had tried reaching out after lunch as I was promised feedback that morning). Supposedly there was something wrong with the lock but she would confirm the details first thing in the morning and contact me. Now…if you know there is something wrong with the lock and if you committed to giving the client feedback…how can you tell me that you don’t know the details of the problem???
  • 21 January 2020 – The manager contacts me during the morning and confirms that my vehicle will be ready for collection at 16:30. By now I know better than to get excited or believe anything these people say and as a result I was not at all surprised when I received a call after 14:00 informing me that the car would not be ready. Not only won’t the car be ready….no, they now have to replace the ENTIRE DOOR. They’re unable to explain the problem exactly but inform me that they’ve logged a request with my insurer to approve the replacement and confirm that the door has been ordered. They insist that the door has to be replaced as a result of the original damage from the attempted break in. It was at this point that my calm exterior probably started to crack just a little. For one….they were perfectly happy to return the vehicle to me as “fixed” on 19 December 2019 and had I not pointed out the multitude of issues, everyone would have believed the vehicle fixed. How on earth do you NOW want to claim that this was caused by the original damage??? Secondly, (refer to the image above) the damage was at the top of the door and so very minor that I fail to understand how this could result in a whole new door being required. I was convinced that the new door was required as a result of the “kink” we identified on the door which they caused and which they were now unable to fix.
  • Having had quite enough I typed up a long email to my insurer with all the details informing them of my concern. I don’t understand why my insurance (and indirectly me) should have to foot the bill for the new door. At this point I begged them to step in as honestly I no longer wanted to deal with these people, but I also really needed my car back.
  • 22 – 23 January 2020 – No feedback from Renew-It Rivonia on the status of my vehicle or when I can expect the door to arrive despite numerous attempts from me to contact them.
  • 24 January 2020 – Confirmation that the door has been ordered but no estimated date of arrival and no feedback on when I can expect to get my car back.
  • 28 January 2020 – I finally manage to get a hold of someone to find out what is happening and I’m told that they would need to consult with the parts department. I’m promised that I will get a call on the same date. Of course they did no such thing.
  • 29 January 2020 – The manager confirms that the door will be arriving on Friday 31 January 2020.
  • 31 January 2020 – Despite numerous attempts from my side during the day to confirm if the door arrived I am unable to get a hold of anyone.
  • 3 February 2020 – I leave a Whatsapp message for the Manager to call me as I have been unsuccessfully calling and emailing. I receive a reply with a promise to call, but of course I do not receive a call.
  • I should probably point out that in-between all of the above I’ve been following up with my insurer on the matter since the 23rd of January.
  • 4 February 2020 – I receive a call from a Senior individual at Renew-It Rivonia. I’m informed that they have been in discussions with my insurance and that my insurance have not yet approved the replacement of the door. He alleges that Renew-It has proof that they originally requested approval for the door to be replace and the insurance company did not approve this request and instructed them to repair the door. When asked why I was never informed of this or why they were quite happy to provide me with my door “fixed” (not so much) in December he stated that it was a mistake. He stated that they would be negotiating with the insurance company. I insist that the dispute between Renew-It and the insurance company really has nothing to do with me and that they would need to fix the door regardless as there were no issues towards the bottom of the door when I handed in the car and they already “fixed” it. He agreed and assured me he’d be in contact later on the same day to confirm a collection date.
  • Directly after this call I receive a call from the head of Quality Assurance at my Insurer. He apologises for the fact that I’ve had to deal with this issue and assures me that I can sit back and relax. They will sort it out for me and get my car returned as soon as possible. He informs me that Renew-It is now claiming that there is structural damage to the door as a result of a previous incident and previous repairs I had done somewhere else and supposedly this was already a problem before I booked the vehicle in the first time (a claim the guy from Renew-It failed to mention). This of course is a ridiculous statement. I bought my car brand new, it’s been insured with the same insurer since I bought it and I have never claimed anything from my insurance for the vehicle (not to mention that there have no accidents or attempted break-ins ever). Now you could say that perhaps there was damage that I paid for myself and now i’m trying to hide it. But the fact is my excess is all of R500 and I don’t have a no claim bonus on my policy. So why on earth would I pay for any kind of damage myself??? The insurance guy thanks me for confirming what he already knew and told me to sit back and relax.
  • The rest of the day was filled with a bunch of emails flying around between the repairer and my insurer and I’m pretty proud to say my insurer pretty much shut them down. Renew-it is responsible for the “kink” a.k.a structural damage to the door and is responsible for repairing it at their own cost. Honestly…it was nice to be able to step back and have someone else fight on my behalf.
  • Receive a call on the afternoon of the 4th as promised from Renew-It (you’ll pardon me for nearly falling over as this was literally the first time someone did as promised) accepting responsibility for the cost of the new door and informing me that they just ordered the door and it should arrive by COB the same day or the next morning. Now hold up……Renew-It already told me the door was ordered on multiple occasions somewhere between 21 and 24 January 2020. With follow up feedback on the arrival of the door. When this was pointed out to the manager at Renew-It he explained that this was impossible. The door definitely wasn’t ordered previously because they were waiting for approval from the insurance company. I informed him that he just confirmed (again) that his staff lied to my face on several occasions. He obviously had no explanation (the lies are par for the course at this stage though).  He informs me that my car will be ready on Thursday 6 February, alternatively Tuesday 11 February as he would like to be present when I collect and unfortunately he isn’t available on the Friday and the Monday. He promises to inform me of any delays.
  • 6 February 2020 – To absolutely no ones surprise not a peep was heard from Renew-It Rivonia to confirm that I can collect my vehicle or to notify me of a delay. Thankfully my insurer has been physically inspecting the vehicle daily and sending me photos. As a result I knew that my car would not be ready, but this did not take away the responsibility of the repair center who promised to update me should there be any delays.
  • 10 February 2020 – Receive a call from Renew-It Rivonia informing me that my car would be ready for collection by COB on the Monday. As the manager specifically requested to be present I arrange to collect it on the morning of 11 February 2020.
  • 11 February 2020 – I arrive at 8am (as I confirmed with them the day before) to collect my vehicle. They make me wait for nearly 20mins before eventually helping me. As I walk up to my car I notice an issue with the paint on the rear panel and the seals around the window on the driver door which had clearly not been installed correctly. While the paint issue appears to be minor and could likely be polished away, I find it astounding that something as obvious as a seal sitting all strange was not picked up during quality control. They ask me to wait 15 minutes while they fix these issues. Which, to their credit, they manage to fix in about 10 and I was on my merry way.
  • FINALLY after 2,5 months I have my car back.

I realise that this is a very long post and most of you probably gave up on me ever getting my car back somewhere along the way. But I needed to explain the whole situation and give all the details. It’s been one of the most frustrating service experiences of my entire life and I will never EVER make use of Renew-it again. I will also be more vigilant with performing research on companies before I make use of them.

I’ve embarked on a bit of a process about my experience. Step one was putting the whole series of events down on “paper” (this post) which will be followed by a post on Hello Peter and a detailed letter of complaint to my insurance company.  I’d usually say it’s too much effort and let it go because I have my car back now. But the fact is I can’t let this one go without speaking out and let someone else go down the same route.

Bottom line: Steer clear of Renew-It Rivonia at all costs.