Crownwayne: you have given a lot of very valid informations and warnings in your post, but I have some major problems with it.
If you need to go through this motion with your shop, it tells me you do not have any confidence in their honesty or qualifications.
Having to go through a 3 steps legal contract for a simple car repair is stretching my comfort level. I think you should be looking for an other shop.
I have been doing business with a shop for the last 10 years and never had to go through this once. Why?, because the guy is basically honest, knows what he is doing and knows his limits.
You know very well that car repair is not an exact science. How can he commit to a set price when he does not have a clue of exactly what's wrong with the car. So, if you insist a precise cost estimate on a ''no start', condition, you can be sure the shop owner will protect imself and give you a very high estimate as it could be as simple as a bad coil wire or as bad as a fuel distributor..
What I get from my shop is always a ''rough estimate.'' it will be between X and Y'' unless it is a routine job (eg: Brake pad replacement). If the problem is worst than anticipated, he will call me and let me know, giving me options and alternatives if possible. How can any shop tell you exactly how much will cost a transmission job, without first opening and examining the transmission.
A shop owner has to make a decent living and if he feels you sqeeze him between a roack and a hard place, he'll do 2 things: do lousy work and cut corners or overcharge you
Just my opinion