The Case of the Shady Service Station…

"Turn your head and cough..."

“Turn your head and cough…”

 

A few weeks ago, I mentioned an issue we were having with our car door and my quest to try to find a part to fix it. I’ve been looking (though not that hard) for a part with little luck, so we decided we’d take it to a repair garage and see what they’d want to do the work. Now, when I say I loathe going to car garages, I mean “loathe” in the worst sense of the word. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ripped off, overcharged (in my opinion), and hornswaggled in hopes of getting things fixed on a vehicle.

One of the best…and by “best”, I mean “worst”….attempts was around ten years ago. I was still living in Northern Kentucky and I needed some brake pads…badly. My brakes were grinding so bad that they sounded like they were starting to dig into the rotors….and that’s never a good thing.

Anyway, I took my car (a Dodge Omni, if I remember correctly) down to the local Midas place and they gave me an estimate that wasn’t too crazy, so I agreed to have the work done. I sit there for, roughly, two hours…the snow was still falling and it was cold, so I was glad to be getting some new brakes as I traveled the slippery, icy, roads.

The guy calls me over and hands me the bill…..which was $150.00 more than agreed upon. I gave it a look and noticed they had replaced my battery.

“Ummm…excuse me…why did you replace my battery?  There wasn’t anything wrong with it.”

“Well, when I checked it, the cold cranking amps were low and you’d have a hard time getting it started in this weather.”

“I didn’t ask for that, so I’d appreciate it if you’d switch it out….I’m not paying for battery replacement.”

“O.k….but, I guarantee you won’t get it started tomorrow.”

“I’ll take my chances….”

 

Alas, so true...

Alas, so true…

 

Of course, the car started the next day….and everyday after until I got rid of it….three years later.

I have tons of stories like this, so you can understand why I hate going and trying to get the car fixed.

So, we headed out and stopped by a few of the nearby places where they might work on such stuff.  The first place we went was to a local garage down the road. It’s a smaller place, but looked like it had a lot of business….or just a bunch of broken down cars in the lot, I don’t know. I kept explaining how it wasn’t our door handle that was broken, but the mechanism inside that had broken. After explaining it three times, the guy (finally) seemed to get the gist, but told me he’d have to take the door apart to really see what he was getting into. That was fine….until he said it would take him an hour and a half to do it.

I took it apart in fifteen minutes in our driveway.

I’m guessing that since they charged a flat rate of $65.00 per hour for labor (according to the big sign on the wall) , they had to meet a $100.00 minimum on all estimates. I’m also going to guess that any and all estimates took “an hour and a half”.  To me, that was shady, so we left.

Then we went a bit further down the road to the dealership that sold the car to my wife a few years ago. The service manager there told me that he probably could fix it, but that he had no clue as to when. They were “backed up to the gills with warranty work”…whatever that means. I guess Hyundais aren’t built that sturdy? I don’t know.

Finally, we headed for the local Ford dealer and they said to bring it back tomorrow for an estimate. It’s going to cost $60.00, but that money is also applied to the repairs if they do any.

We figured that was as fair a deal as we were going to find, so we said we’d be back at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes. Now, if it seems like I’m skeptical of car repair places, it’s because I am. You’re, pretty much, at their mercy and can only hope the place is reputable and they won’t take you ‘for a ride’, so to speak.

Hopefully, they won’t want an outrageous amount to fix the darn thing, so I’ll be keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed. I’ll let you know how it goes…

 

Until next time…

 

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4 responses

  1. I hope the car repair goes well. I’m right with you in loathing car repairs in every sense of the word. My own little mini-story is I recently had to take my car to Pep Boys to get the oil changed. Instead of the $25 quoted, it jumped to $45 AFTER my car was already basically taken away from me. I inquired about a radiator flush, which they said was going to run over $100, so I declined. Shortly after, an elbow joint that feeds antifreeze to my car suddenly fell off and my poor car got overheated in a hurry. Fortunately I was able to find a guy that not only gave me a free estimate and inspection, but also fixed the issue and gave me a ride to where one of my friends was at (so I could get a ride home) AND fixed a broken sensor for a little under $100. And he had it fixed within 24 hours. So…it’s rare, but there are good mechanics out there. Hopefully you find one, too.

    1. Ugh, that does suck but, you’re right. There are some good ones out there…it’s just a matter of finding them…that’s the real trick! On a bright note, at least our repair isn’t integral to the car running…just more of a convenience thing.

  2. Too bad ya’ll don’t live closer. Mike’s the most honest man I’ve ever met. Probably why I married him. 😛

    1. Oh yeah, that’s right…he’s a mechanic. Well he’s a rare one, I’m sure 🙂

      The guy I know up here is an honest one, too, so I guess there are a few out there….thank goodness!

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