Cars are fun but even the biggest aficionados will pay people to work on their rides. The only hitch is that they might pull some funny business. These drivers share the moment they caught a mechanic scamming them.
She Was Watching Out For Her Folks
“I took my parents’ car to a small shop to get checked out. I forget now what it was he told them they needed, but it was $2,500 worth of work. My parents being in their late 70s – early 80s decided to have the work done because they did not want the car breaking down on them.
After two days of having the car, the repair shop called and said it was ready. Thank God, my husband said to pay with a credit card because my parents were going to pay by cash. So my mom used her Capital One card.
After having the car home for a week and driving it was still doing the same thing they took it in for. My husband and my boys are mechanically inclined — they work on heavy-duty construction equipment so they took a look under the hood and the three of them determined that no work had ever been done on my parents’ car. They determined this by showing me bolts that would have to have been removed in order to get to the part they needed to get to. They also said that there would be wrench marks on those bolts because the bolts were rusty and there were none.
So I, my husband, and my boys went back to this guy and pointed that out to him. He claims he wasn’t the one who actually did the work; his help did the work while he was out on a towing call but he stood behind his employee’s word that the work was done.
Long story short I told him “I don’t believe the work was done and I have three people here that are very mechanically inclined that will state that in court. If I have to take you to court I will.”
I told him that he could just return my parents’ money and we would walk away and find someone else to do the work and call it a day. He did not want to return the money. I told him that I would sue him and take him to court. He still wouldn’t return the money.
So the first thing I did was take pictures under the hood of my parents’ car. Then I wrote the credit card company a letter of dispute explaining that I did not believe the car had ever been worked on because it is still doing the same thing it was doing before the repair and the light was still coming on. I also explained in the letter my three mechanics’ theories and sent pictures of the engine area where the work was supposed to have been done.
The credit card company did an investigation and determined that I had a case so they took back the money they paid out to the guy while they further investigated to make their final determination. In the end my parents’ money was refunded to them on their credit card and the credit card processing company canceled that guy’s ability to use credit cards for payment any more. About four months after that I went by there and noticed he was out of business. Serves him right trying to rip off old people.”
Former Mechanic Shares His Story
“I have a story to share from a different angle. I am an ex-mechanic and a former shop owner.
At the time I was doing inspections on a contracted basis for aftermarket warranties, pre-purchase inspections, and arbitration inspections. I bid on an arbitration inspection about 2 1/2 hours away in Northern California.
It seems a Firestone had done an oil change on a 15-year-old Dodge. After 7,000 miles they came back and the engine was making a horrendous noise. The oil level was checked and found to be full.
The Firestone refused responsibility so the vehicle owner took the car to the Dealer. There they determined it was an engine issue and provided them with a quote for replacing the engine. The owner contacted Firestone as the party to blame and they hired the company I contracted with to check out the issue.
I arrived at the Dealership and met the Service Advisor who got an oil tech to bring the vehicle into the shop to demonstrate the problem. The tech who had performed the diagnosis of the engine issue had gone home early.
Now keep in mind, I do not carry any tools as failures are to be demonstrated by a Tech. I am waiting in the tech’s service bay when he comes driving up with the car. It is making a horrendous noise.
He shuts it off and I open the hood and check all the fluid levels, documenting with pictures. The oil is indeed full and dirty but not too bad and no sign of metal in it. I ask the tech to start the car as I did not believe the noise to be an engine issue.
I asked to borrow a long screwdriver and used it as a ‘stethoscope’ and listened to where I determined the noise was from… the alternator. Sure enough, the bearing at the back of the alternator had gone bad and was making the horrid noise. I asked the tech to remove the serpentine belt. Once it was off, I had him start the car again.
Noise-Be-Gone! I could not turn the alternator pulley by hand the engine was able to which caused the bearing to show its displeasure.
So, no issue with the work done by Firestone but I wondered why their tech didn’t figure it out and even WORSE, how could the Dealership tech be that incompetent to say the engine was bad.
I would assume that Firestone was happy with the results but that Dealership should have been embarrassed.”
The Car Ran Perfect Until They Worked On It!
“When I was in college in the 80s, I had a 1984 Ford Tempo that I had bought used. Ford sent me a recall notice on the fuel injector. I figured, it’s getting up in miles, probably 90k at this point, what the heck, maybe it’ll run better, so I took it in.
The car was running perfectly. I was using it to commute to college.
There is a local Ford dealer in Kent Ohio, I dropped it off early AM, I walked to the KSU campus which was a couple of miles. At 4 pm, I walked back to the dealer. I got the car, it started fine, I got on the highway…it wouldn’t go more than about 30 mph.
What the heck? I drove back and the service manager said this to me. ‘You know, some people bring in their nonfunctional cars on recall and figure we’re going to fix it, it doesn’t work like that.’ If you sign here, we will fix it, but it’s going to cost you actual time and material.
At this point, I’m stuck. I’m 20 miles from home, no car. Remember kids, no cell phones, so getting in touch with people wasn’t easy. I walked to a friend’s house and waited until they came home (like 10 pm), crashed on their couch. The next day, I called the dealer and the service manager says ‘The entire fuel delivery system needs to be replaced. It’s going to cost at least 1k.
I keep insisting that the car RAN FINE! I had been commuting for two years at that point, it can’t be that!!!! He said they would go through it again or I can come to get the car.
I waited until late that day, and I walked over. I figure I will just limp it home and figure out something else.
As I get there, he said ‘We fixed it.’ ‘Wow, great! What was it?’ I asked. ‘The fuel harness was corroded, here’s your bill for $140 for labor.’ (I was making $3.35 per hour part-time at the time, so essentially two week’s pay). WHAT!?! You guys were fiddling with the harness, how is the labor my problem? ‘Pay it or leave it, the car that is. I paid for it with a credit card.
As I was leaving, the technician who was working on it came over and apologized. He told me that they had replaced most of the parts and the car still didn’t run right and when they finally figure out it was the connector that was bad, they were going to stick me for everything. He fought with the service manager and took all the extra parts back off and just fixed the harness.
So here’s a big FU to the service manager in the late 80s at Klaben Ford in Kent Ohio.”
She Got Scammed TWICE
“I’ve had it happen twice. The first I worked at the dealership where I bought my car. I had noticed the front tires were rather worn and the rears were still good. I made an appointment with service for my next working day for a rotate and balance, oil change, and recall service. Once I’m off work, I walk to my car and some mud on my rear tires just happened to catch my eye. I leaned in for a closer look and the tread looked fine. ‘Weird,’ I thought, ‘I guess the tread wasn’t as bad I thought it was.’ I started to get into the car and decided to check the front tires. The tread was low. They didn’t do the repair I had just paid for. I go back inside and tell the service manager what happened and his response was, ‘Yeah…he does that a lot’ meaning he knew the service tech was falsifying people’s repairs.
The other time, I needed new brakes and one of those quick oil places had a Groupon for a brake replacement. I go in and they say I need new front and rear brakes. I pay for both. A couple of months go by and I have a terrible wobble whenever I apply my brakes so I have a friend take a look and he says it doesn’t look like the rear brakes were done. (DO NOT comment about how this isn’t possible, because even if it shouldn’t be, it was and I don’t need your condescension, okay?) I take it back in and they tell me the rear brakes are metal on metal but the front brakes are fine. This was a front-wheel drive car; there’s no reason the rear brakes would fail before the front. They made me pay for the service again even though it was still under warranty because they claimed the warranty was expired for the parts so they would only cover the service. I left a google review and almost immediately got a response. I took it to another location where the regional manager worked and he admitted it did not appear they had done the service. He completed the service, got me my money back, and the wobble was gone.
I will never step foot into one of those stores again.”
They Tried To Charge Him For NOTHING?
“Yes, I needed a new transmission. Well I took it to one of the national chains that specialize in transmissions. Three weeks later they STILL had not finished after daily calls.
I called them to say I’m picking up my car. They told me I couldn’t because the mechanic had it in pieces.
I showed up (with my spare key) and found it perfectly put together, covered in dirt from sitting there for three weeks.
They had the audacity to try and charge me. I told them they did not do anything but they wanted to charge me because they had to put it back together for me.
I popped the hood and every bolt and battery terminal was caked with oil and dirt (was a very oily car). I asked them how they managed to put all of the oil and dirt back over every single bolt.
They let me leave.
I took it to this sketchy place next (closest to the other place because the transmission was really not drivable). These muscle-bound dudes came out, and gave me a quote (at least a fourth of what the other place charged.)
Turned out they were power lifters and needed a place to lift so they bought the garage for their weights and lifted the transmissions with their bare hands into place.
They were the best mechanics I’d ever used. Oh and they did it in one day. Took it off, rebuilt it and put it back together in less than 36 hours.”
Never Doing Business With Them Again!
“This story still makes my blood boil!
Years ago, I bought my then-wife an SUV to replace the two-door car that we had when our daughter was born. I had spent some time as a body shop manager in a dealership before switching careers, and when the transmission began acting funny, I contacted one of my old employees to see if there was a technical service bulletin for that issue. Turned out that there was, and the issue was in the ignition switch, of all places. The switch would throw the transmission into a safety mode where it would start out on second gear, skip third and shift directly into high. It was horrible for power!
I took the vehicle to the dealership that it was bought from that just so happened to be a franchise for the brand of SUV we had bought from them. No brainer, right?
When the wife went to pick the vehicle up, there was a $750 bill for an internal wiring harness to the transmission. She was unsure of what was going on and paid the bill and brought the vehicle home…. And it acted up again on the way home.
I was off the following day, so I took the vehicle back in and asked to speak with the general manager. The service manager came out and immediately began telling me that we needed a replacement transmission. ‘It’s a common problem for that model,’ he said and began describing the internals of the transmission. I once again asked to speak with the general manager, but not until I had the service manager put the estimate for repairs in writing.
Finally, after an almost three-hour wait and at least five more requests to speak with them, the general manager came out. I informed him of the charges, showed him the written estimate, and lay the technical service bulletin on top of the estimate. His face turned white and he asked where I got the TSB. I told him it’s available online, it’s a recall from GM, and he was going to refund my money, or I was going to every newspaper with the proof that they were taking advantage of what they thought was a woman that didn’t know any better.
I got the money refunded, but I refused to do business with them again.”
She Cheated On Her Mechanic And Learned A Lesson
“I stayed with my sister-in-law in Gaithersburg, MD (two states away from my home in NC) while doing an art show in Frederick, MD. At the end of the last day of the show, after tear-down and loading up my little Ford pick up truck, exhausted beyond belief, I was finally on my way back to Lesli’s.
Problem, though. I saw that my battery wasn’t charging. It was getting late, I was in an unfamiliar area, and while I considered it, it was probably a really bad idea to try to make it to Lesli’s before the battery ran out of juice. But I was in luck! There was an open store and it had ‘Batteries’ in its name. What a relief.
They discovered that I had a bad alternator. They could change it for me right then and there. Great! I asked for a rebuilt one (something that is not out of the ordinary). They said no-can-do—they only had brand new ones in stock. A rebuilt one wasn’t in the budget, let alone a brand new one, but I had no choice. They put in their brand new alternator, I winced while handing over my credit card, but was grateful nonetheless.
Two months later my regular mechanic back at home got hurt feelings when he found evidence that I’d been cheating on him—he saw that someone else had worked on my little truck. I explained about being stuck out of town with no other option, and about having to shell out for a new alternator, to boot.
He said, ‘That’s not a new alternator.’ I said, ‘No, not now. It’s been in there a couple of months.’ He said, ‘Ok, but it wasn’t new when those bozos installed it. It’s a rebuilt alternator. And it’s lucky you still have it, too, because they just stuck it on with a little JB Weld.’
So. I went home and wrote a letter. Basically a narrative of who, what, when, where, why, and what I expected the store to do about it. I sent that letter to the actual facility in Frederick that took me for a ride (no response). Just for kicks, I sent that letter to the Better Business Bureau. I ALSO sent that letter to the one place it would do the most good—the Maryland Attorney General’s office.
My very reasonable request was that they reimburse me the difference in the cost of the rebuilt alternator I received, and the cost of the brand new alternator I paid for.
But when they received a letter from Maryland’s Attorney General’s office requesting information regarding my complaint, the store sent me a full refund.”
No Wonder They Ain’t In Business Anymore
“Many years ago (around 1998) I took in a 1992 Isuzu Rodeo to a well-respected A/C & electrical shop where I lived – the original owner had sold it when he retired, but many of the same employees were still there, I knew the man who had taken over and I felt secure in the quality of their work.
As suspected, I needed a compressor – OK…I planned on keeping the vehicle so I sprung for a new (not rebuilt) one. In a couple of days it was done and I picked it up, and everything worked fine.
About a year after the repairs, the A/C again had issues, so I took it back to the same shop – when I got there I pulled the original receipt from the glove box and lo and behold was surprised to find a note in with the other stuff saying ‘If you can find a good looking used compressor use it and charge for a new one’ in the owner’s handwriting. Somehow it had gotten into my papers undiscovered until that time.
When I went to the shop manager I gave them the paperwork and was promptly told there was no warranty after a year. That was when I asked to see the owner, who wasn’t there at the time – when I went back later to meet him I asked the same thing and received the same answer. That’s when I pulled out a photocopy of his handwritten note and gave it to him, saying ‘last year you charged me for a new compressor but put in a rebuilt one – either you can deal with me in a fair way THIS TIME or I’ll contact everyone who has authority over your shop and the news media and show them the original of this note YOU wrote’.
He read the note, paused for a few seconds, and then told the shop manager to install a new compressor at no charge for parts & labor. He said it would be ready the next day and I told him ‘No, I’ll wait until it was completed.’ – it was done within a couple of hours.
That was the last time I ever went there, but I kept the note and told everyone I knew about the cheating, lying manner in which I’d been treated. The shop ended up being sold a few years later and I don’t know what happened to the owner. It is no longer in business.”
Scamming In Scotland
“Many years ago I took my Cortina into the local Ford dealership for its yearly MOT test. Not a big deal as I had already checked the car thoroughly in my own lockup. As my father had an account with the garage and I was working late the service desk was closed when I picked up the car I simply collected the keys from a salesman and drove home. The next day I collected the paperwork and they said they would send me the bill in the post.
About a week later the bill arrived and it stated they had to renew all four sets of brake shoes. I immediately phoned the garage and queried the bill asking them to check if it was for the correct car. I then wrote a letter to the garage requesting they check the bill sent was for my car and if they had made a clerical error. Almost by return post, I received another letter written in a very nasty way threatening legal action if I did not settle the bill immediately. I wrote back saying ‘I will see you in court.’
In Scotland, we have a system called Small Debts Court where a local magistrate rules on cases of a minor nature. I duly received a letter giving the date and time for the hearing. I was quite looking forward to my day in court.
The magistrate queried why I had chosen to represent myself without a lawyer being present and I replied that I didn’t think the case justified the expense. The lawyer acting for the garage opened by presenting a summary of the facts. I was asked if I disputed any of the statements made by the garage and I replied No. I accepted everything that the lawyer had said. I then presented copies of the correspondence between the garage and myself. So far it looked like an open-and-shut case. I was refusing to pay what was clearly due.
That was when I asked the magistrate if he was familiar with the technicalities of motor car braking systems. He replied he was but if any technical points were beyond his understanding he would stop proceedings and seek expert help. I then presented the bag of worn-out brake shoes left in my car as per the garage’s normal procedure. I explained I was a qualified mechanical engineer whose hobby was rebuilding cars and I often took part in car racing. Several months previously I had fitted a much more powerful engine to the Cortina and also upgraded the brakes to disc brakes all around. Disk brakes do not have brake shoes. I had a bag of worn-out parts that could not fit my car. I refused to pay for work which couldn’t have been done to my car and moreover showed that the mechanic had never even looked at the brakes.
The magistrate didn’t laugh but he was smiling broadly as he declared ‘Case Closed.'”