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  #1  
Old 08-22-2001, 04:10 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: SoCal
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What to expect from a shop? (longish)

This is to bring up some points, out of my own curiosity, that relate to my experience with my late sister-in-law's car and the shop at which she had all her work performed over many years.

As her estate executor, and as my wife is the beneficiary, I have had the opportunity to evaluate her '91 190E 2.3 and restore it to good condition. There is an outstanding bill against her estate for $1200 from this shop. The complaint was malfunctioning air conditioning and a rough idle. As executor, it is my function (superceded by the court, if they deem) to determine the legitimacy of this bill.

As we received the car, less than a month after it came back from the shop, the air functions well, but the idle was poor, barely running when started from cold. Of the bill, $150 was for cleaning the fuel distributor - presumably the service intended to address the idle issue.

Being unfamiliar with MB's before this experience, I proceeded with the diagnosis slowly, and as there were more pressing problems with regards the car's safety to be addressed, it was awhile before I really paid attention to the idle problem.

What I found, though, was interesting, and I detailed some of it in a previous post. The main problem was that the throttle was not returning properly to the closed position, due to a problem with the throttle cable to the accelerator pedal. There were two problems: a broken idle stop adjuster, and a cable end pivot that had not been properly snapped into its retaining clip.

Now, since the throttle cable would have likely been detached to remove and clean the fuel distributor, this last problem can be directly traced to the last repair for which her estate is billed, in my view. It is hard to imagine that the broken adjuster would not have been noticed too, during that repair, or possibly occured during it. I am not suggesting that this part of the bill should be withheld, because I have no way of knowing whether the service done might have corrected some other legitimate problem than the idle issue I noticed.

I DO feel that the work was done in a sloppy and incomplete manner, and the problem should have been apparent in any test run. I am also disappointed that sloppy handling due to a loose rear track arm and worn steering idler was immediately apparent to me in a short test drive - followed by five minutes of quick diagnostic - but not caught by a mechanic who had a long-standing relationship with this vehicle.

I am not just venting, I would really like to know how others view this situation?

Steve
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Old 08-22-2001, 05:03 PM
LarryBible
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I perused your post and got from it that only $150 pertained to the idle problem, the rest assumably toward the a/c problem.

If this is the case, it seems that the shop only needs to make good on the idle adjuster problem. From your description of the shop, it sounds as if something has changed at the shop over the years leading to this less than satisfactory experience.

Anyway, if my assessment of the bill itemization is correct, it seems that they only owe you satisfaction on the throttle linkage problem. Although it is frustrating that they did not recognize the other problems, it would not seem that they owe you anything for that.

Is my assumption of the a/c problem being $,1050 correct? If so did they itemize what they did?

Good luck,
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Old 08-22-2001, 05:40 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
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I feel that there is not enough information to make a judgement. A shop has no right to do anything without authorization. Who was doing the authorizing? It sounds as though there could have been communications problems that kept the shop from pursuing more than had been authorized.

As was said, you do not know how the car was before the servicing. The description of the service indicates to me a fuel system flush and or throttle body cleaning was done. I don't see any particular reason to assume the problems you described would be involved in such repairs. Maybe if they cleaned the throttle body.

Since it sounds like only one side is left to tell the story, you should assume that there were reasons for years of trusted service. Ask them to go over the repairs with you. If they are not the shop for you. It isn't worth arguing over.
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Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 08-22-2001, 06:42 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
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"Anyway, if my assessment of the bill itemization is correct, it seems that they only owe you satisfaction on the throttle linkage problem. Although it is frustrating that they did not recognize the other problems, it would not seem that they owe you anything for that."

Actually, Larry, the bill was not as clear as I would like, but sufficiently itemized to deduce there was also an oil change, and also that there was no mischarging. Based on that, the full amount of the bill is accepted by the estate. Returning the vehicle for re-repair is not an option until the estate is settled - i.e. until the bills are paid, which involves a 4 mo. wait by CA law. At that time, liabilities are paid out based on the amount of funds in the estate, on a percentage basis.

I would LIKE to pay the bill sooner as a draw against the estate funds. However, if sufficient funds are then not available to pay the balance of the bills in full, and if the court decides paying the bill was not necessary to preserve the value of the estate, I would be personally liable to pay it back to the estate. No problem if my wife can keep the car, but if necessary, it would be sold at auction by the court to meet the estate obligations. Then I would have paid for a repair we did not contract for, on a car we did not own, out of my own pocket.

Regardless of the quality of work I feel the vehicle received, I don't like the position either I or the shop is in here. It would be so much simpler if the shop had required payment on delivery.

Steve
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Old 08-22-2001, 07:16 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,303
"I feel that there is not enough information to make a judgement. A shop has no right to do anything without authorization. Who was doing the authorizing? It sounds as though there could have been communications problems that kept the shop from pursuing more than had been authorized."


Steve, in my sister-in-law's shoes, I would have returned the car and complained. I don't know if she did, or if it was SO bad before that she was willing to accept any improvement.

I DO know the idle was poor by any benchmark as a result of a problem with the cable, and could not be missed by anyone who simply tried to start the car. Even when warm, it would be uneven and lumpy, as though misfiring, and when cold would barely stay running. Furthermore, I am a neophyte with these cars, and not a pro at all in this field - yet I diagnosed the problem easily.

My other comments relate to a quality of service and diagnosis I have come to expect from the techs in the shops I go to, and the way I have treated people over the years in my field. I just wonder whether others feel that a bit of pre-emptive diagnosis is or not what a shop should provide?

Steve
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