Well, I'm probably going to blow my "cred" totally to pieces here but I've always believed in giving credit where credit is due, so here goes.
I would normally not particularly recommend using a "fast fit" organization, except for tyres perhaps, and even now I would caution people to be careful about recommendations for mechanical work needed. Unless you really know what you are doing, always seek at least one other quote. However things are a little difficult in our family just now with my daughter-in-law seriously ill in hospital. Mrs J and I are running around visiting the hospital (which is an hour's drive away - each way), collecting my granddaughter from school (nearly an hour away in the other direction) and looking after her 'till Daddy can take over. Mrs J is also doing all their washing etc.
On top of all this their Jazz decided to blow it's exhaust - centre section, which on the Jazz goes all round the houses and runs back under the O/S sill to avoid the fuel tank. Mrs J and I are absolutely exhausted (got home at 3 am on her worst night) so I just don't feel able to do this relatively simple job - I asked our local Honda indy for a quote (don't know them very well) and got what I thought was quite a pricey quote. (genuine Honda parts?) So decided, with some trepidation, to approach one of Tommy Farmer's Autocare branches.
For general info, as I understand it, Farmer Autocare is a franchised operation set up by Mr Farmer after he sold off Kwik Fit. I think each branch is individually owned (so standards may vary between branches?) and I've occasionally had a good tyre bargain from them. They seem to only operate, pretty much, in the Scottish central belt.
Anyway I took the car to their Piershill branch and got chatting to the chap, Stuart (maybe Stewart?) who did the job. He was very pleasant and we talked cars for most of the time he was working. He renewed all the fittings and gasket which includes two tensioning springs and a "birds nest" gasket (looks like a compressed brillo pad ring). I was very glad I didn't try to do it myself as the 3 integral studs on the cat flange were so corroded they had to be cut off with an Oxy-acetylene burner and replaced with bolts (that'll make life easier if I ever have to do another one). I was impressed by the care he took to shield the wiring for the O2 sensor. He made a very nice job of lining everything up properly with good clearances to heat shields etc. I was impressed to see him fitting everything up loose first to get the alignment right before fully tightening everything right up - Just as you should - this man really knew what he was doing!
Roughly an hour and a bit later I was driving home thinking to myself that if I'd been doing this myself I'd probably have still been struggling with those studs in the back end of the Cat and freezing my n**s off on my back in the drive! I've just looked up the parts he used on line and yes I could have done it cheaper myself but the saving would not have been worth the struggle of doing those studs myself.
So, a massive thumbs up to Stuart (or is it Stewart?) at the Piershill branch of Farmer Autocare - Think I'll make a point of automatically trying them when I'm looking for tyres from now on (I'll still consult Fair Deal as well though). Hopefully family life will be back to normal in the not to distant future - unfortunately not, I think, in time for Christmas though - and then "Garage Jock" will be resuming normal "family fleet" maintenance activities.