A short rant about the NCT


‘….is committed to providing the highest standards in customer service…’

from the National Car Testing Service (NCT) website .

Hmmm. Some recent encounters beg to differ. My husband recently brought our car for its NCT. The following timeline illustrates his experience

 10.00 am Car taken in promptly and car test begins

 10.20 am Car test stops. All other tests stop. Reception closes up. All staff go on tea break.

 10.35 am Another customer arrives for her 10.40am appointment. Finds no staff to accept her car or commence her test.

10.45am (heeding the dire warning notices about being late and paying penalties) customer takes out mobile phone and dialls NCT Customer Services line to complain.

10.50am dramatic opening and slamming of doors, scurrying and bustling of bodies, as all staff suddenly return to work.

 10.51 Car testing recommences

11.10 Car passes NCT.

So – the entire staff take a 30 minute tea break. Simultaneously. Your given car test appointment time may encompass some or all of that break. You have possibly taken time off work to sit through the NCT. And the NCT tea break.

A few weeks later, my brother in law took my parent’s car to a (different ) NCT centre. It failed its test, due to the rear bumper being unclipped on one side. He was told it would not require a re test, just a visual re-inspection. Driving the car outside, my brother in law reclipped the bumper, by pushing it on with his thumb. An action that took approx 1.5 seconds. He drove the car back to the inspection bay area, to get it passed. He was refused entry. Because (it was was 3 minutes to 1 o‘clock) ‘ we are closing for lunch’. He was told to come back at 2pm or another day. Not having the luxury of a one hour lunch himself (to wait around for a 1.5 second re-inspection), he left.

So, NCT people; in 2012 – with your 30 minute tea breaks and 1 hour lunches – have you never heard of the concept of staggering?

 I find that just staggering.



What is the single biggest thing that will turn you off revisiting a shop?

Bad customer service?

Poor hygiene?


For me it is none of the above…. It is;


Now I’m not talking about an exclusive, high end, posh shop that alludes to the ‘if you need to ask then you can’t afford it’ theory. Although I still find that annoying.

No, I’m referring a small local business; a deli, grocery or butchers shop for example. I have been making more of an effort to shop locally lately, and would also be keen to try support any new business brave enough to open in the current climate.

But why not display your prices?

For me there is nothing more annoying. Everyone is more price conscious these days, shopping around, looking for value. Customers are weighing up can they buy three or two, a kilo or a half kilo, small bag or large etc. Do I really need to mention the R word?

But these shops expect us to what? Purchase blindly/ask the price of everything/guesstimate?

It also means the shop is obviously not offering any incentives to entice us either, 3 for 2, buy 4 get one free etc. This is an area where other shops do brilliantly, in trying to encourage and maintain customers.

I can’t decide if it is carelessness, snobbery, or laziness that leads to this ‘no prices’ decision. But there is no good reason, in my book.

Having said that, I do understand the concept of ‘engaging the customer’ ie ensuring they have to ask a question, so the retailer can impart their sales pitch, promote the product highlights etc. And I have no problem with that.

But that question does not have to be about price. How about, for example, pricing everything, but not naming or describing it?? Therefore you know that the muffins are €3 for 2, but not what flavours they are. Or you see a nice looking pasta salad marked €1.50 per tub, but you need to know what dressing is on it. And so on and so on… I find market stall holders are very good at this ie just bare price given, and are then often kings and queens of banter/sales pitch once you start to chat. And good for them. But at least I have made the initial decision to ‘engage’ based on the fact that I like/can afford their prices.

I have been in several ‘no price’ premises lately. The most recent was a very enticing new deli/bakery. Lovely décor, swirling aromas, a relaxing seating area. But not a single euro symbol to be seen. No price tags, no chalk board, no specials. Nothing.

While I might – might – have bought some of their lovely looking bread, buns and maybe have stayed for a coffee, I instead reluctantly bought two small scones and scurried out of the place vowing not to return.

However, now that I’ve got this rant off my chest, I am actually going to contradict myself. I am going to go back. And ask them

 a) why they don’t display their prices


b) to please display them!

Rant over.