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Old 01-26-2003, 08:28 AM
Spencer 300E
Posts: n/a
xp190, those sound like fantastic prices for the parts you recieved. Where do you order them from, I've got to know.
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Old 01-26-2003, 09:30 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Victoria BC
Posts: 87
My 2.5 cents

"I even hesitate to take my car to my trusty mechanic, cause he messed up a bit while doing the chain, but he's human too you know."

Sorry folks, but this is why these shops proliferate, would you say the same about your doctor?. I doubt it. If the mechanic is licensed, operating a legitamite business and you are paying for the service, then you are entiltled to nothing less than satisfaction to the agreed job. Having said that be realistic and clear in your communication. The shop who could not give a quote because their computer was on the fritz is pure crap, would they let you take your car and come back later to pay the bill, I don't think so. After they have your keys is too late to ask for a quote.

A work order is a contract, it is important that the work order reflects your wishes. In my experience this is the only defence you have against any shop, either good or bad. However the only way this works is if the work order is clear. Don't be afraid to read, alter and most important put a $ limit on any work order BEFORE you sign it.

If any shop performed "un-authorised" repairs not ordered on the work order, I would firstly only agree to pay for the listed work. At this point most shops try to go the hostage route. Next I would ask they "undo" the un authorised work. Failing this you would have your $ limit as listed on the work order (contract) to fall back on and a lawyer.

Now re diagnostic work, get it in writing that their recommended repair is guaranteed to fix the problem, if they won't do this, walk away. A shop rate entitles you to a informed, correct and profesional diagnosis. Its ok for us arm chair mechanics to play "swap and change" parts until we find the problem, but we don't get paid to do it for a living.

Diagnose first, no work authorized
Quote for repair second
Signed work order upto the quoted amount third.

It takes a little more time, but you don't get burned at the end, and you can always walk away in the first or second stage without it costing your shirt.

Just think of it in terms of what you do yourself for a living in your respective profession, what is your personal liability to your client/customer/patient then step up and demand the same for yourself. God gave us feet to walk away from these kinds of operations, hopefully before we've parted with cash. Also remember, most shops charge you by a book, if the repair takes less time than listed, who usually gets to keep the difference?.

Almost done ranting now, don't be afraid to complain (if you are right and the work is contrary to the work order) but a good tip is always go around 5pm when others are also picking up their cars, then if you encounter a "problem" ensure everyone hears about it. Oh yeah, always ask for your old parts back too (written on the work order), its your right unless they are core parts and reflected in the replacement part price, it keeps them honest, and is good education to look at them.

Last edited by Crownwayne; 01-26-2003 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 01-26-2003, 11:01 AM
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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
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Old 01-26-2003, 11:51 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Victoria BC
Posts: 87
I agree Jackd, if you have an established relationship with a shop, it is not neccesary to go through those steps, and alot can be taken on word and trust, however if you have never dealt with an establishment before, it your own responsibility to cover your butt.

Spencer was asking if he was ripped off, I say yes!. Was it on purpose? maybe not, however there was no communication between him and the shop. If you want someone to do a job for you to your satisfaction, they must understand what it is you want. I feel the shop was lazy in their communication, but it was up to Spencer to call them on it. It is near impossible to go back after the fact to ask for an adjustment, it goes against human nature to give something back they regarded they earned. They did accomodate somewhat, but 1 hr labour on a $1100. bill?.

Of course it's a pain in the ass when your car has to be towed into the shop, and the pressure of time and loss of use adds to the problem, but signing blank work orders, or even no work order is like signing a blank cheque, once they have your keys, you have surendered your rights to your car, until the bill is paid.

Back to having an established relationship with a shop for a moment, in the beggining I see nothing wrong letting them know what kind of customer I am, and what I expect, if they meet my expectations, they will have a customer for life. A basic life principle in all relationships I say.

Regarding quotes, I have no problem paying for a diagnostic service, but this is not the same as an off the top of your head quote. If I know what the problem is, I will tell them exactly what I want done, if its wrong I'm at fault, but if it's something I can't diagnose, then I will pay them to do it for me, but it better be right. I don't agree that car repair is not an exact science. In diagnostics, a trained mechanic follows a set course of action to determine the problem. For instance your coil wire example would not happen if a proper diagnostic routine was followed, check for spark, fuel, compression ect. The same for transmissions, once there cracked, the only determining factor is the torque converter, everything else is prepriced in the book, but before you crack it, you diagnose and eliminate all other factors first.

In summation, the problem is not really with the mechanic, but the front end guy. The mechanic should only do what he is told, so it comes down to management of the front end, which is really about people skills and good business practice.

Any mechanics or front end guys out there with an opinion?
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