Getting Scammed by Car Dealer -- need quick advice.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Brian Harnish, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    I smell bullshit on this one. I just took my car in for repair (decided against getting my brand-new car until I get my inheritance in October). It cost $50.00 for them to replace a nut, a bolt, and a washer. Now they're calling me and saying that there's a wheel alignment problem that needs to be fixed after they installed the nut, bolt, and washer. AND they're attempting to get an additional $69.99 out of me to do it.

    I smell royal bullshit on this one -- when I took my car in there was no wheel alignment problem. I had perfect steering and I could drive my car straight without my hands on the wheel no problem. Everything was operating fine when I took it in. Someone please tell me how a wheel alignment problem can develop out of replacing a nut, bolt, and washer.
     
  2. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    Tell them to pound sand, and get your car back and take it somewhere else.
     
  3. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Matt- Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, I just gave my okay to the dealer to do it after much reluctance on my part. If they call and say there's another problem I'm going to tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine and get my car back.


    Is there a car dealer repair scam web site similar to carbuyingtips.com?
     
  4. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Have they done the initial work yet? (The service you asked for?)

    If so, tell them NOT TO DO ANY FURTHER WORK and go pay them for that initial service that you requested.

    If not, go pick up your car and thank them for their assistance.

    Granted, it's not like they came up with some massive job to charge you for, but if you suspect that they're being untrustworthy you're better off taking it to someone else.

    And when you get to the next mechanic, relay this story to him. That way he knows A) you have a clue what you're talking about, and B) you WILL take your car elsewhere if you think you're being cheated.

    My mother had a similar problem a few years back, only the second problem that was "discovered" was gonna cost her about 400 bucks. Turns out she DID need that 'second job' - but a different mechanic did it for about 220.

    I know a few mechanics and they're all decent guys and reliable businessmen. But obviously there are many out there who are scammers too.

    ...or maybe it's just worth it to drop the 120 bucks and be done with it. [​IMG]
     
  5. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Well, I ended up having the work done anyway. To my surprise, though, my car feels like a brand-new car now. In short, I am pretty happy now that I took it to the dealer for repairs. There's a small, but noticeable performance increase. Everything feels "tighter," for lack of a better description.

    Maybe I was a little too quick to call out a dealer scam on this. I'm rather enjoying the results at the moment. :b
     
  6. Bob_Bo

    Bob_Bo Agent

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    I'm glad you're satisfied with the work they did Brian.

    Most dealerships are pretty much above board. The scrutiny that dealerships are under by their franchisees is pretty tight and makes any kind of scamming difficult.

    That's not to say it doesn't happen, but it's rare. And in my experience, dealers that take advantage of their customers, usually aren't around very long. Most disputes are a result of a lack in communication, between the customer and the service adviser and between the adviser and the technician.

    The "nut, bolt and washer" you mentioned might have been a part of the steering or suspension systems of your vehicle and thusly needed an alignment to be sure everything was back in order.

    If that was the case then the service adviser should have brought it to your attention and included it in the estimate before the work was done.
     
  7. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    I tend to buy extended warranties and have much of my work done by my dealer. The relationship I have developed with the service tech and manager has benefited me over the years. I was able to have Ford buy back my POS 95 Windstar because my service manager helped me out. When I had a problem with a part failing just after the 12 month warranty the same service manager spent dealership dollars (hundreds) to fix it. So yeah, I pay a bit more to have work done there but it's a two way street, they go the extra mile for me.
     
  8. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    In California dealership service departments have a lot more to fear from the state Bureau of Auto Repair (BAR for short) than from the mfg. This state agency is very active and effective, to the point where minor ommissions in paperwork can result in customer refunds in the thousands of dollars.

    If anyone in California feels they are being scammed and have not gotten satisfaction from the repair facility, dealership or not, I'd strongly suggest contacting the BAR. They are truly interested in and effective at righting wrongs in the auto repair business, and also are good at clearing up misunderstandings in cases where the dispute is more a lack of communication than a real attempt to scam the customer.

    If replacing the bolt meant the car needed re-alignment then that should have been presented to you at the outset. Sounds to me like a lack of communication between the technician, who would have known the alignment would be necessary, and the service writer whom you were dealing with. Service writers are not necessarily well versed in technical details and may not automatically know that replacing a certain suspension bolt would make an alignment necessary.

    In any case, though the situation was mis-handled in that you weren't originally told replacing the bolt would require re-alignment, you weren't charged any more than you would have been if it had been done correctly and the result apparently has satisfied you.

    Bob's comments are well-founded. Dealerships can and do often "go to bat" for customers with out-of-warranty problems and are much more likely to do so for regular customers.
     
  9. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    If it was so simple, theny why didn't YOU do it?

    $50 is fairly typical minimum for most shops to work on any car. It covers their time, building and know-how. Oh yes, and the parts. They should always provide you an estimate up front, and call if it will be exceeded.

    If you don't want to pay it, then fix your car yourself.


    As far as alignment goes, you were wise to have the work done. You don't always 'feel' alignment, but it can tear your tires up much faster than regular wear+tear.

    Next time you doubt them, ask them to show you why they feel that way. Most mechanics (and any other professionals) are glad to show you. (Think about how much fun you have showing off your own work skills).

    BTW - Sorry to hear about your loss.
     
  10. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Eric- I didn't mind paying $50.00 in the first place for them to fix my car with those parts. I was only taken aback with the sudden "Oops, I'm sorry, we just need this additional thing to be taken care of for an additional $70.00..." from the dealer. My reaction was only one of caution, and I wanted to get some advice before spending my money on something that might not even need to be done.

    Honestly, at the moment, I'm definitely going back to that dealer for further repair work if necessary. I understand sometimes not everything can be communicated properly, and I will overlook that this time. Especially with the nice results I've been experiencing with my car lately. [​IMG]
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    So where was this nut/bolt/washer located?
     
  12. Kevin G.

    Kevin G. Second Unit

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    This is not neccessarily the case, as an auto dealer body shop manager, I see this all the time. You may be out of spec and have no noticeable tracking or pulling problems.
    Also a couple of the other guys are on the right track, If the bolt and nut are in the steering or suspension It is pretty much a requirement that they re-align the front end.
    This, however should have been noted when they diagnosed the problem to begin with, while they can do the repairs and NOT do the alignment, we would (in a few months) be discussing the fact that they did not make you aware that it needed to be done, and now your front tires are destroyed...
    Bottom line is, the called and got your authorization, legally and dependably, they treated you right, don't let anyone disuade you from this fact.
     
  13. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    Very true.
     

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