Mr. Shop Owner,
Is your repair "a guess" or "a fix"?

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Finding and fixing a problem with your car that's not there when the shop is looking for it, makes the suggested repair look like a guess, a guess with the customers money. So when a shop calls you and gives you an estimate for an intermittent problem, it is OK to ask them "Is this a "guess" or a "fix" ?" Then if it's a "guess", ask them who's money are they guessing with, yours or theirs? You are better off discussing these issues before, than at the shop's front counter at 5pm.

If it's a "guess", ask them to give you your old parts back, in case their guess doesn't fix your problem. It is OK to ask them, "If this "guess" doesn't work, who pays the labor to reinstall my old part?"

A good shop will admit to a "guess" before you have to ask . It will sound like this:

"Hi Ms. Jones, this is Mark. We can't find the reason your car intermittently dies once a month, but the most likely cause, based on our experience, is a bad crank sensor. That part costs $90 and the labor to install it will cost $100.

Now Ms. Jones, it is important to know we are guessing with some of your money. We are going to put your old crank sensor back in the box the new one came in and place it on the passengers side floorboard of your car. If this "guess" doesn't repair the dying problem, bring back your old part and we will reinstall it and refund you the $90 you spent on that part. But Ms. Jones, we will not be refunding you any of the $100 labor because we will have had to do the job twice and only be paid once. That way we both have some risk.

Ms. Jones, the risk to you is $100. You can authorize the repair and take the risk or you can wait until this problem gets worse and easier to find or you can wait until the car just quits for good and have it towed in, then it's very easy to find the problem. What do you want to do?"

I think you will all agree that this conversation is best done before the authorization has been given because it's called a "Customer Complaint" if this repair doesn't fix the customers car and no one bothered to tell them the shop was guessing with their money.

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