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  #1  
Old 01-10-2005, 12:38 AM
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Ever witness anyone get "taken" when they got their car fixed at the shop?

I did ,and it makes me very grateful that I can fix my own cars.
I know being an auto mechanic isn't an easy job and it's back breaking and very tough and thankless.
The new electronics on newer cars baffle even the most resourceful and smart professionals. And if you are a true craftsman, people will still treat you badly. I've seen my friend, who is a MB indy, get treated ontemptuously and rudely by customers who dont know how hard his job is. I've seen some customers bear down on him and ask him lengthy rude and nasty questions about their bill.
Anyway the guilty party in this story wasnt the mechanic; it was the shop manager.
Once on a Saturday afternoon I went to get some machine shop work done. I wandered into the attached next door repair shop and sat there dumbfounded as I witnessed a Sting operation where gullible people brought their car in for simple work and ended up with huge estimates and bills.
Worse ,they agreed to have the work done.
The Sting was simple enough, someone with something small like worn brake pads came in, had their car put up on the hoist and a fifteen minutes later every slight defect that you could find on the car was written up as a safety threatening issue on the service ticket. Five of the six victims were women. It all happened in the 45 minutes i was there.
I know it was a sting for a good reason. I recognized the shop manager instantly from ten years ago, where he had stung me as a teenager for front end work. One lady got written up for worn steering boots and new tie rods for $380 bucks. The manager told her that if she didn't do it immediately her car would be a disaster. She was pretty and she whistled a sigh of relief and gratitude that the manager had saved her from disaster.
Another lady needed all new belts for $230 despite coming in for something much simpler. Apparently they would fail that day if she didnt get them fixed. Others had similar high ticket items. I don't doubt that some of the cars did have those problems, but I know what the manager was doing. On every car that came in, he was looking for extra easy work with high profit that he could move quickly. None of the customers seemed very knowledgable about cars.
I didnt say anything to anyone. I made eye contact with some of them hoping they could read my mind, but in the end I left quietly. To this day,I hate to have someone work on my car. I know many pros out there are great and much better than me and I have often called them for advice and paid them back with favors. But that sting makes an impression on my Mind.


Last edited by Carrameow; 01-10-2005 at 01:00 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-10-2005, 12:49 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Blue Point, NY
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An outfit opened here a few years ago named "The Brake Shop". Needless to say, they were to be the Jiffy Lube of brake service. They advertise a complete brake job on one axle for $39.95. Of course, this is only pads or shoes. It is designed to draw customers in droves. It is explained that any additional parts will be at added cost.

So, I go there for oil changes (years before I owned a M/B). Figured that they could change the oil on a Ford fairly easily. The cost was very reasonable ($16.95 IIRC). I would call them and make sure that they could take the vehicle immediately because I had no way to drop it off.

So, I go down and while waiting for them to take it in, I overhear the manager talking to a woman on the phone regarding the brake job. It seems that the $39.95 special has now morphed into a $430.00 job becasue the rotors are NG and the hoses need to be replaced, and the hardware holding the pads needs to be replaced. She absolutely has to do these parts because the safety of the vehicle is at stake and he knows that she does not want to be driving around with unsafe brakes, that is for sure.

After 10 minutes of kind explanation and cajoling, she agrees to have the work done and he assures her that it is the right thing to do and that the vehicle will be ready that afternoon.

They began to jerk me around on the oil changes eventually. Seems like they did not want to provide the oil changes to me at that price anymore because I never did any brake work. So, they would tell me to come in right away and then make me wait for an hour.

They are out of business now.
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  #3  
Old 01-10-2005, 01:03 AM
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Most times I know the procedure they are performing and what it is all about. Then when they make a recommendation, I make them justify what they are doing first. Also, I usually bring in my own parts. When they work on it, I am about 10 feet away from them or I take it elsewhere.
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  #4  
Old 01-10-2005, 03:21 AM
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Cops, lawyers, mechanics

Who among us us has not been screwed by one or more of the above?

There isn't enough space to tell of all the fraud and ineptitude I've seen over the years from franchise shops, dealerships, and independants. I would take a guess and say that 50% of service shops are involved to some degree in some form of deception. Probably higher. Pretty sad.

Sure gives the honest ones a tough time. Same is true for cops and lawyers. Good ones, bad ones. All get stuck with the stigma.

I have to disagree that being a mechanic is hard, back breaking, or thankless work. Most of us are well paid, we have learned to work "smart" and safe, and we use the proper equipment for the job. Those of us that certify and keep up to date through continuing education can work anywhere we want.

Show me the mechanic that uses the scanner and DSO. He probably makes more money, with less actual work, than any normal cop or lawyer.

I don't think there is an easy answer but I notice that mechanics have been getting jail time and huge fines for smog related fraud. I think that should extend to all deceptive tactics that lead to consumer fraud.
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  #5  
Old 01-10-2005, 10:17 AM
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I have been stung before at the local MB dealership - never again. I have also witnessed this. Just this weekend I put a block heater in my car (NEVER AGAIN, thank you!) and the motor mounts that supposedly were replaced two years ago were never replaced - I suspected as much after they "replaced" the plugs and wires when I bought the car. They got me because I just purchased the car there and 2 weeks after it was missing horribly. I took it in for them to work on, thinking it was something horrible like a blown engine, and was relieved to find out it was just the previous items which were not covered by warranty. They agreed to do this 50/50 because they had just "serviced" the vehicle. Keep in mind this was when I was "mechanically illiterate". They cleaned the spark plugs, did not replace the wires, and, evidently, did not change the motor mounts.
I also have seen them "take" a well known dr.'s wife who owns a '97 s600. She came in for a routine service. I was there for warranty work or would not have been - you can be sure of that. She drops the car off, leaves for lunch, and comes back two hours later. Her car was never moved but she was charged big $$$ for the work. I actually stopped her and told her to examine the way her car was parked and the seat position. She realized that it had not been moved and went to the service mgr. He gave her the lame excuse that it was an oversite and that he would do it immediately. I told her she should insist on watching at least part of the work being done on the car.
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:23 AM
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Once my wife (then fiance) was stung by a Midas shop. I returned the next morning first thing armed with a vernier, the used parts and knowledge. I stung them right back.
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:29 AM
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Watch them work. Bring someone who knows along. That is the only way.

Years ago, when I broke my leg I was in the hospital for an operation to fix it. Needless to say I was in pain. I asked for more pain meds and the RN said that she couldn't give me any more for 4 or 5 more hours because of this, that or the other. I listened patiently and told her that was ok although I don't understand the explaination. Leave my chart out on the table because my wife who is an RN will understand what she is talking about. My wife was 1 sememster away from graduation but they didn't know that. Within 30 mins, I got my pain meds. My wife told me that because they have to count everything that is Schedule II and account for it in some way, they might have done it already and didn't want to bother till the next shift. Now, whenever I go to the doctor, I introduce them to my wife, the MD. That way, it cuts down on the BS.
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:47 AM
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Auto repair is one of the biggest scams out there.

Best to buy a Haynes manual and learn to fix things yourself.

Something to consider as well...what if someone brings their car in for something minor, the mech notices other things that are not broke yet, but are getting worn or may need attention soon. If he says nothing and the car fails in the next few weeks, can he get sued for not suggesting preventative repairs? For example, a cracked brake hose should be replaced. It may not leak fo a long time, but the outter casing is starting to go. Do you wait until really, really needs fixing or just put it off?

There are a lot of things on a car that will continue to work, even though they are totally worn out. They keep on working until they snap. Wornm out ball joints, shocks, pads, hoses all keep on working until they blow. A brake pad with no lining still works until it or the rotor are ground away and fall apart.

Treat every recommendation as a suggestion until you inspect the item yourself. Always bring a knowledgable friend too.
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:53 AM
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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Just to toss in one good story...

I was waiting at our gasser's mechanic's place to pick up our Subaru, and I witnessed the owner of the shop and head mechanic give a poor lady waaay more information than it looked like she really wanted about CV joints and how they work and why boots fail and what happens when the grease falls out and sand gets in, and on and on and on. But at the end of the big long story, he explained that all that means that it doesn't matter what the Car-X guys tell you, your CVs won't fail catastrophically, and that she shouldn't worry until she hears one of the following sounds. Then he proceeded to make the sounds, and launch into a big explanation of where they would come from in the car.

Basically, he took 30 minutes (which could be spent making 30$, at their rates) to explain to a woman why she didn't need to have work done that day. I'm surprised he's still in business, but its that attitude which is why we go there. And in the end, I suppose his shop does well because instead of having customers who come in once, get screwed, and never return, he has customers that come in, pay a fair price for necessary work, and then keep coming back for years.

So find a good one and support them.

peace,
sam

PS Miller Bros. in St. Louis, MO - They aren't very diesel experienced, but are great with most imports and domestics.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:11 PM
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It's nice to have a mechanic you can trust. It's incredible how gullible people are. If you have never heard this mp3 audio of a mechanic talking to the female owner of a car --- you need to
MP3
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:26 PM
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Friends don't let friends do business with crooked shops.................

THere should be someplace you notify when bait and switch things like this happen......
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TX76513
It's nice to have a mechanic you can trust. It's incredible how gullible people are. If you have never heard this mp3 audio of a mechanic talking to the female owner of a car --- you need to
MP3


i am SO in the wrong line of work....but i bet her dad wouldve had a few questions about the halogen fluid for the headlights, that was hilarious
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:46 PM
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Look, it is not only mechanics. Sure, they try take a woman for a ride becuase she doesn't know better. Just like the RN who tried to take me for a ride till I told her that my wife was an RN too. What do all these cases have in common? One human preying on the ignorance of another. That is life. We have to get used to it and stop whining. I don't know much about most things but I know people who know. A doctor will give you their favorite meds. For instance, they like to give me Codiclear. That stuff tastes nasty and when I burp, the smell makes me want to puke. I ask for Tussionex which tastes much better, actually, tastes great, less filling. If they wonder why I want it, my wife chips in and gives them some long winded explaination about why I want it.

People. Cops rip you a new one because they can. RNs do the same because they can. Till you get rid of the human element, it is that way. Get a construction guy? Maybe he will tell you the truth and maybe he will find a way to pad his pocket. Till you have an unbiased opinion, you are taking the risk. So, it is not just mechanics. It happens in every profession. This is why I don't let my wife take her car in. All she can do is drop it off, pick it up and pay for it. I talk to the tech. When I go to the doctor's office, I STFU and let her talk for me.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:58 PM
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www.ripoffreport.com is one place to put these kinds of dealers. BBB is a total waste of time. Mention shop names right here too. I too thought I was taken at the dealers a couple of months ago, not the MB but my wife's Subaru. 60K and it neeed a full boat brake job(front only) including rotors. Although I'm sure I'd have just slapped in a set of pads I have to admit the car really feels new since they did the work. I don't mind paying for quality work and I don't even mind paying for work that could be deferred, what I find reprehensible is paying for work that isn't done, Midas has always been one I've tried to avoid. Sears is among the worst too.
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Old 01-10-2005, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmmagow
www.ripoffreport.com is one place to put these kinds of dealers. BBB is a total waste of time. Mention shop names right here too. I too thought I was taken at the dealers a couple of months ago, not the MB but my wife's Subaru. 60K and it neeed a full boat brake job(front only) including rotors. Although I'm sure I'd have just slapped in a set of pads I have to admit the car really feels new since they did the work. I don't mind paying for quality work and I don't even mind paying for work that could be deferred, what I find reprehensible is paying for work that isn't done, Midas has always been one I've tried to avoid. Sears is among the worst too.
Like I said, if you cannot see it, don't believe it. I always am there when they work on my car. Also, I like to have mechanics work on my car on the side since I pay them more than the shop will, save some money instead of paying the shop and get to watch them work on my car.

I took my old 190E 2.6 to the local MB shop and asked about their coolant flush and the procedure. I needed to get the oily film out and change coolant. 4 months later, it was back. This time I got Gilly to do it. He wanted to change the overflow tank too. However, this time the oil never came back. That was the one time I thought they could do a through job and had to pay twice for the same job. Either that or MB coolant doesn't last 4 months. Now, I just watch while they do it. I also have my own favorite techs work on it.

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01 Ford Excursion Powerstroke
99 E300 Turbodiesel
91 Vette with 383 motor
05 Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI
06 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI
03 SeaDoo GTX SC Red
03 SeaDoo GTX SC Yellow
04 Tailgator 21 ft Toy Hauler
11 Harley Davidson 883 SuperLow
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