I think I was taken, what should I do?

012.jpg (13323 bytes)

First, always allow the shop to address their problem first. If there is a chance you will become emotional, write them a letter. Enclose the appropriate documents and make sure what you want is clear to whoever reads your letter. Nothing is worse than getting a nasty letter chewing you out for a mistake you made and the letter writer not tell you what would make him happy.

Your letter should be one page and precise, like this one.

"On 7-25-07 your dealership aligned our Jeep. We brought it back twice, the first time because the steering wheel was crooked and the second time because of a pull. Last week we had the Jeep into a local independent shop for other work and they said the tire wear indicated that our front end was out of alignment. We allowed them to simply check the alignment and they called us back to tell us they found a tie rod sleeve had been left loose and the toe was out of specs. We would have hoped that this issue would have been caught during one of the two re-inspections you had to do.

We paid $65.00 at the local shop to have our front end checked and realigned. We paid you $75.00 to align our Jeep originally. We would appreciate it if you would review the enclosed paperwork which includes a copy of your bill and the one from the local shop, then send us a refund of what we paid you ($75.00) or to compensate us for what we had to pay to fix a problem you created ($65.00).

Thank you."

Or in the event of a miss-diagnoses, here’s a nice letter to bring this issue to the owners attention.

"On 7-25-07 we brought our car in for a pinging problem. Your staff diagnosed it as a defective EGR valve. When I spoke to Joe, I asked him if he was sure that a new EGR valve would fix my pinging problem, he said yes.

I still have the same pinging problem and it has not changed in intensity or duration. It is the same as it was before you installed the new EGR valve. I asked for and did receive my old EGR valve back and it is in the box the new one was in. I would like to make arrangements to return my car to your shop, have my old EGR valve reinstalled, have the cost of the EGR valve, the labor to install it and the labor charged to diagnose this problem credited to me and I would simply like to start over. I am willing to pay a new diagnostic fee and for the necessary repairs to fix this pinging problem, as long as I’m called with an estimate after the problem has been found but before it has been fixed.

I am also willing to leave the new EGR valve in until the problem is solved and the pinging is gone. Then we can remove the new EGR and install my old one and I will be able to see what kind of a difference it does in fact make. If the EGR does cause the ping to return, I will pay for that removal and reinstallation of the EGR. If there is no difference between the new EGR and the old one, I want the old one installed and a credit.

Please call me so we can discuss this issue and set a time to fix this pinging problem.

Thank you"

In the event you do not get what you think is fair, you have two options. If you paid the bill with a credit card, you can send a copy of your complaint to your credit card company asking that the charge be charged back to the shop for work that _____ (fill in the blank). Many times the credit car company will simply charge back a reasonable dispute to the shop and tell the shop to attempt to collect through a local court.

You run a huge risk of the shop suing you 1) if you are wrong about your complaint, 2) you are wrong about who’s fault it is or 3) your source of information and evidence decides to say one thing to you and another to the judge. Shop owners have told me that they have sued and collected not only the disputed amount but thousands in attorney fees. Make sure you are on solid ground when disputing the credit card charge. On the other hand, I have seen many shops simply drop the whole issue after a credit card charge back because they were clearly wrong and the documentation clearly showed it. I’ve actually walked in those shoes myself.

Your second choice is to contact your local BBB and file a complaint against the shop. Be prepared to do battle with the shop by exchanging letters as each of you tells your side of the same story. When the time comes, ask the BBB to assign a community arbitrator to arbitrate or sit as a judge in a hearing about your complaint.

One last thing. No one knows who fault "it" is until "it" is properly diagnosed and repaired correctly. This goes both ways, the shop cannot say your oil leak is not their fault unless they know where it is and you cannot say it is the shop's fault until you know where and what "it" is.

Next FAQ

Back to FAQs Index

Copyright ©1997-, Mark Salem, Salem Boys Auto, All Rights Reserved