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Is it illegal for auto repair shops to do this?.....


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33 replies to this topic

#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Kevin Alexander

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Posted September 10 2005 - 06:11 AM

To make a short story even shorter, I had my 2000 Dodge Dakota 5-speed towed to a transmission local shop that I'll keep unnamed for now for a free diagnostic of shifting problems (which turned out to be a bad clutch, so they say). Anyway, instead of receiving a call telling me what the problem was, and if I ok the work being done at an agreed upon price, I get a call two days later (to my surprise) telling me that the repairs were completed, and that the truck is ready to be picked up. Total: $699.90.

After I get to the shop, I tell the store mgr./owner that I didn't agree to have the work done and that I didn't appreciate not being informed before the work was done. He said he tried calling, but he couldn't reach me (a lie), and that since the repair was simple, he did it anyway. I told him that I was price shopping w/ several other competitors and would really have appreciated a call before he did the work. Anyway, I ask that he give me 10% off the total to compensate for a lower price that I could've gotten. At first he agreed, but almost as instantly he re-niged (sp?) and basically told me to get lost.

After getting him to admit some culpability after arguing w/ him in front of other customers. He was only willing to give me a $10.00 discount and show me the door. I wanted to go to the mat on this one, but I really need my truck for my business. Basically I felt as if my truck was being held hostage, and I would loose even more money (I'm self employed) by having to do w/o it for even longer so I reluctantly wrote a check and left. Is there anything I can do to report this sleaze ball?...Recoup my 10 percent?...Better Business Bureau? I just can't let this pass, so help me decide what to do. Thanks.
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#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted September 10 2005 - 06:22 AM

I think the law varies by state on this.

Around here, if it's more than $50 or so, I always have to sign an authorization before the work is done, even if it's some fixed-price thing that costs, say $99. I don't know if this is the law here, but every place I've taken a car has had this system.

Regardless of the law, for $700 of work, they really should have gotten your written approval in advance. It's just not right to do that amount of work without your permission. The fact that they tried to contact you first means nothing. I wonder what their limit is- what if they decided it needed $2000 in repairs? $5000?

The Better Business Bureau is useless. If you want to pursue this further, you need to find out what the law is & contact whatever agency enforces it. Probably some consumer protection agency or the attorney general.

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted September 10 2005 - 06:41 AM

I'd recommend going through Consumer Affairs if they're in your area and trying to get something back. CA is very good...You call them, they send you a form, you send it back to them and they contact the business if they agree your complaint has merit. I've used them twice, both times with success.
Carl

#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Paul_Medenwaldt

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Posted September 10 2005 - 08:53 AM

Kevin

It sounds like you may of been hoodwinked here, but I have one concern regarding your story.

Quote:
I get a call two days later (to my surprise)


Why did you wait for them to call you back?

Whenever I have a car in the shop, i'm either waiting their for the fix or if I have to leave it, I make sure that they call me and give them 3 numbers to to call and even with that, I call every 4 hours to find out how the fix is going.

I think some responsibility lies with you,(though a small portion) by not calling them (if you did, you didn't explain in your story) and keeping them honest.

Good luck with this issue.

Paul
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#5 of 34 OFFLINE   Henry Gale

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Posted September 10 2005 - 09:25 AM

Kevin,
Did you sign anything at anytime in that shop?

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#6 of 34 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted September 10 2005 - 10:52 AM

Sounds like you went to AAMCO Transmissions to me.

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Kevin Alexander

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Posted September 10 2005 - 10:59 AM

Quote:
Why did you wait for them to call you back?
I tried to make the story as short as possible, but here's what happened.....

The car was towed on Thursday morning and I called them back on Thursday evening to ask what the problem was w/ the car. The manager told me that they didn't get an opportunity to look at it that day, but would do so before the end of the day Friday and call me back on my cell. I was out of town in Dallas, Texas on a family emergency (they knew that I was gone). So that it didn't seem that I was pestering them, I gave them all day Friday to diagnose the problem and planned on calling them on Saturday, but before I could call this morning, they surprised me w/ an 8 a.m. call telling me that the repairs were done. There was no procrastination on my part, just greedy, sleaze-ball, lying presumptiousness on their part.

I should also make it clear that there was a clear understanding between the 2 of us that this was DIAGNOSIS ONLY - not diagnosis and immediate repair w/o at least calling me to let me know what the problem was, and what the price would be. There is no excuse for that whatsoever.


Quote:
Did you sign anything at anytime in that shop?
Only the final bill of sale receipt. My copy of the receipt even has a box authorizing the work to be done...it is empty!
"What does God want with a Starship?" - Captain Kirk from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

"For the first few minutes of the film, I had accidently listened to the Dolby Digital track." - Ron Epstein (HTF)

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   Jimi C

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Posted September 10 2005 - 11:22 AM

You should not have signed anything and you should not have written them a check. You should have called the cops.
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#9 of 34 OFFLINE   Robert_Gaither

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Posted September 10 2005 - 01:17 PM

It's fortunate that the phone number you gave is a cell phone, what I would do if I were you is to get the legal correspondence number of your cell provider so you can subpoena their records to verify about the received call (most cell phone providers will show an outgoing/incoming call records but not ones unanswered that went to voicemail which is why you'll need the subpeona this will also pull up the phone number if the person blocked their number as well, if this is pretty recent you should also go back thru your phone's log to check any received/missed calls). I'd then ask the repair shop what was the phone number and if possible what time that they called so you can match it to your records to verify their attempt to call you. I would explain to them the lack of evidence shows they failed their attempt to contact you and then check ordinance in your area you may have to file charges on. If they didn't even attempt to call you I would sue them at least for a zero dollar amount since you gave them the option to match prices and they failed to deliver on this (I had to do this to a local shop here, they made the same lie about calling my cellphone, too bad for them I'm employed by my provider and knew how to verify their "claim"). It's amazing how a shop will settle for zero when they have broke an obvious law and then tried to cover it up with a lie (I don't mind if they claimed to make a mistake and make amends, but when they lie on top of it, show no mercy).

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted September 10 2005 - 02:44 PM

Stop payment on the check, write a new one reflecting the 10% discount, and if they don't like it, let them take you to small claims court -- where you would prevail.

#11 of 34 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted September 11 2005 - 12:26 AM

All this stuff about law suits and such sounds great, but the problem is that you're only going to get whatever damages occured. Have you talked to other shops about what they would have charged? If the best you could get is 10% cheaper, are you really going to court over $69?

What happened to you definitely sucks, and I would certainly be in contact with some consumer groups about it, but I don't think $69 is really worth going to court over. Not to mention the fact that you had the truck towed to this place, so to take it to a cheaper shop you would have had to have it towed again, making that $69 discount disappear.

#12 of 34 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted September 11 2005 - 01:51 AM

I remember when i was young. I had a $500 dollar Nova that was slow to shift. I took it to AAMCO and asked them to look at it, change the fluid and thats all i wanted done, but let me know how it looked. A few hours later they call me and say it was ready. They replaced the transmission, at a cost of $600! The car was worth $500! I told them i didn't want this kind of work done, the car wasn't worth it. They tried to hold my car hostage when i wouldn't pay. I said fine, keep the car, what do i care, it isn't worth anything. As i was walking out the guy said will you pay $200 for parts only. I paid, it was still to much for my POS, but it sounded fair. Anyway, about 5 years later i saw where AAMCO got caught nationwide pulling what they tried on me.

#13 of 34 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted September 11 2005 - 02:26 AM

If there was no authorisation for the repair, you should not have to pay for it at all. Thank them for their charity. If this isn't illegal, it should be. There is no way you should be liable for repairs you did not authorize.

What next, some guy shows up at your house, builds an addition and sends you a bill for $50,000? Yeah, right!

#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Drew Bethel

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Posted September 11 2005 - 03:05 AM

Oh man, too bad you didn't use a CC...you could have placed that amount in dispute. In any event, you should report it to the State and BBB.
"The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life." Muhammed Ali, (Cassius Clay)

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Shawn Solar

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Posted September 11 2005 - 02:05 PM

I had a mechanics shop fix my car and charge me $1200 for repairs. The car was lemon and all I wanted them to do was check it first to see if it was worth fixing. I also felt burned. This was done by an aquaintance(other business like alarm system aned home theatre) We had traded off work in the past. He even went to school with my mother.I called him twice or three times asking if he had checked it and what the cost was to fix. each time he had to get back to me and never called. Because of our past and the fact it would cause bad blood beteen the company I worked for and his shop I paid. I will not be burned twice though. Thats my new motto

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Robert_Gaither

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Posted September 12 2005 - 07:39 AM

Quote:
All this stuff about law suits and such sounds great, but the problem is that you're only going to get whatever damages occured. Have you talked to other shops about what they would have charged? If the best you could get is 10% cheaper, are you really going to court over $69?


What happened in my case is that the local auto shop instead of giving me an appraisal went ahead and worked on my vehicle and tried to charge me $450 for a heater core they repaired without my consent and falsely claimed they tried to reach me multiple times. After I was able to verify the failed call attempts (ie they didn't try to call me at all), I got a lawyer and proceeded to sue them, they settled out of court by paying my lawyer's fee and my repair because in Kansas I had the right to sue them for triple the amount. It's going to be more than 10% if he takes it to court, especially since they didn't have his ok to do the work and then tried to illegally deprive him of his property unless they were paid. I guess they should of made him check-mark the box.Posted Image

#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Kevin Alexander

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Posted September 12 2005 - 11:35 AM

Well, FWIW, I filed a complaint w/ the BBB and tomorrow I'll try contacting some company officials. I think each store is a franchise that's operated independently. Anyone got any idea what I'll encounter?...Suggestions?...
"What does God want with a Starship?" - Captain Kirk from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

"For the first few minutes of the film, I had accidently listened to the Dolby Digital track." - Ron Epstein (HTF)

#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted September 12 2005 - 07:14 PM

When I was in my late teens (and naieve on many things like this) my car was starting to run sluggish so I took it in to get a general tune up. I came back sometime later and the guy presented me with an outageous bill. Like $650.

"What the hell is this?!"

He told me a tune up can be more than just changing the oil and spark plugs.

I shook my head in protest. "I didn't authorize this..." I had no idea what to do. My mind and heart were racing.

"Put it all back" I told him. He looked at me like I was nuts. "I didn't authorize this and I'm not paying for it. I want everything put back like it was." The guy stood there slack jawed, shrugged and went back to the garage.

I stood there practically shaking when a guy behind me said "You tell em kid" and all the other customers waiting there agreed and congratuated me.

Next day I took it to a dealership and had them check over the car. They did much the same work and it cost half as much.

-paul

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted September 13 2005 - 01:36 AM

> Well, FWIW, I filed a complaint w/ the BBB and tomorrow I'll try contacting some company officials.

You still need to find your state/local consumer affairs dept or whatever it's called. Like I said, the BBB is useless. It has no enforcement powers; all it does is keep a file of complaints.

#20 of 34 OFFLINE   GordonL

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Posted September 13 2005 - 05:28 AM

Quote:
Like I said, the BBB is useless.
Doesn't hurt to file anyway. If nothing else, it will be on public record that they are unethical. If it saves other folks some grief then it's worth it. FWIW, I filed a complaint with the BBB on a different matter and they helped resolve the issue to my satisfaction so it's a YMMV.


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