Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

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tony5412
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Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:13 am

The first time I took the vehicle in, they did not replace both parts that needed replacing, thermostat and hose. They only replaced the thermostat and were told up front exactly what parts needed to be replaced and they failed to test their work. The hose was leaking after I picked it up, just as it did when I first took it in.

When I went back the second time, they charged me another 250 on the repair that should have been done the first time. I questioned the 250 charge but the shop manager seemed to think that it was justified stating that they did not want to replace more than what was necessary. The hose is an inexpensive part BTW. I then started having more problems with the car when I got it home (unrelated to the first issue) and then went back and they estimated another 150 in damages.

I lost my faith in them and took it to another shop. The second shop showed me what happened. Apparently the first shop damaged the other part (PCV assembly) during the previous repair and failed to replace gaskets they should have replaced when removing the intake. They taped up the PCV and hoped that would be a temporary fix. I took pictures. I then had to get a rental car as I left the vehicle with the second shop and they fixed it. This was almost to another $350.

What was supposed to be a $400 and one day repair (as they told me initially) turned into a $1000 repair (between two different shops) and a nearly week long ordeal.

I disputed the entire charge at the first shop with the credit card company as the amount they charged total (650) nearly matches the amount that I was "ripped off". I'm not even taking into consideration the time and hassle involved.

It will take several days for them to remove the charge and then there will be an investigation.

Should I attempt to resolve the issue with the shop in the meantime? In my previous discussions with the manager during my previous visits, he did not admit any wrongdoing or negligence. His justification was that he only wanted to repair what was necessary. He said he did not want to tell me it would cost 800 up front if it would only cost half that much. Only problem was that I had to have the intake (and other components) removed three times over the course of the week rather than one, and at least each time was at least two hours of labor. I'm not sure it's worth taking any time off work to discuss the issue with him further.

Perhaps I should go over the manager's head and reach out to the owner? I found his e-mail address online.

Or should I just let the credit card company handle it and wait for the shop to reach out to me?

Let's say that the charges are reversed. Can they then file a claim against me in small claims court?

barnaclebob
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:21 am

You are supposed to try to come to an agreement with the business before doing a chargeback with the CC company. If the charges are reversed they could send what you owe to collections but I don't know the best course of action if that happens.

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:24 am

barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:21 am
You are supposed to try to come to an agreement with the business before doing a chargeback with the CC company. If the charges are reversed they could send what you owe to collections but I don't know the best course of action if that happens.
I questioned the second charge when I went to pick up my car and the shop manager's response to objection was "it's fixed now". Then come to find out, I had another issue that he insisted was was unrelated (an issue that I never had prior to taking it to the shop) and wanted to charge me more. The 2nd shop found that the first shop knew about the issue (perhaps broke the part) and patched it up with tape rather than replace it.

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djpeteski
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by djpeteski » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:30 am

A thermostat and hose seem to be a "3" on the difficulty scale of car repairs. Even when I was flat broke, I would check hoses anytime I was replacing another hose or the thermostat. It just is not worth the hassle.

Given your version of events it is safe to assume that this shop is incompetent. The hose should have been checked and replaced. There should have been proper gaskets and sealants. Neglecting those, a real rookie mistake, and as a supposed professional would be downright negligent.

How do you negotiate with people like that?

Use google and yelp reviews as your ally here.

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:37 am

djpeteski wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:30 am
A thermostat and hose seem to be a "3" on the difficulty scale of car repairs. Even when I was flat broke, I would check hoses anytime I was replacing another hose or the thermostat. It just is not worth the hassle.
It was obvious from the get go that there was an issue with the hose and they were told that it needed to be replaced as well as the thermostat. The explanation was "the leak was so close to the thermostat that it was difficult to tell where it was coming from". Then they did not even bother to test it. They let it sit all night and did not see a leak and thought it was good to go. I did not even get the car a half mile down the road before I heard it leaking.
djpeteski wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:30 am
Given your version of events it is safe to assume that this shop is incompetent. The hose should have been checked and replaced. There should have been proper gaskets and sealants. Neglecting those, a real rookie mistake, and as a supposed professional would be downright negligent.

How do you negotiate with people like that?

Use google and yelp reviews as your ally here.
I have considered writing up some negative (but truthful) reviews. I plan to do so but that will not help me recoup any of the money I lost, however.

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bottlecap
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by bottlecap » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:42 am

Perhaps tell the offending shop that you are going to write negative (but truthful) reviews of them and include the pictures.

Then ask them what amount they would like people to know that the shop refunded to make it right for you, because you will include that in the review as well.

JT

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:57 am

bottlecap wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:42 am
Perhaps tell the offending shop that you are going to write negative (but truthful) reviews of them and include the pictures.

Then ask them what amount they would like people to know that the shop refunded to make it right for you, because you will include that in the review as well.

JT
I guess it is worth one more try. I'm debating whether to take off early and approach the manager again, or go over his head and send a detailed e-mail to the owner with the supporting documents attached.

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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by miamivice » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:02 pm

I generally suggest avoiding disputing charges with your credit card when it comes to vehicles. While the charge might be reversed, the money is still owed. In most states, auto repair places are allowed to place mechanic's liens on your vehicle, which allows them to reposses your vehicle to pay off the debt.

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:06 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:02 pm
I generally suggest avoiding disputing charges with your credit card when it comes to vehicles. While the charge might be reversed, the money is still owed. In most states, auto repair places are allowed to place mechanic's liens on your vehicle, which allows them to reposses your vehicle to pay off the debt.
I did hear something about that. They would have to send notification prior to a repo, is that correct?

What would you suggest doing instead? Try to make a deal with the merchant? I suppose if I reached an agreement with them then I can cancel the dispute. The manager did not seem willing to budge when I questioned him but I did not push the issue. A friend suggested hiring an attorney but it seems to not be worth the cost of hiring an attorney. There is the small claims court option I suppose if all else fails.

miamivice
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by miamivice » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:11 pm

tony5412 wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:06 pm
miamivice wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:02 pm
I generally suggest avoiding disputing charges with your credit card when it comes to vehicles. While the charge might be reversed, the money is still owed. In most states, auto repair places are allowed to place mechanic's liens on your vehicle, which allows them to reposses your vehicle to pay off the debt.
I did hear something about that. They would have to send notification prior to a repo, is that correct?

What would you suggest doing instead? Try to make a deal with the merchant? I suppose if I reached an agreement with them then I can cancel the dispute. The manager did not seem willing to budge when I questioned him but I did not push the issue. A friend suggested hiring an attorney but it seems to not be worth the cost of hiring an attorney. There is the small claims court option I suppose if all else fails.
I would write them a letter, include the photographs that you took, as well as anything the other shop put down in writing (like a diagnosis). Include a request on what you would like from them. Send it certified, to get their attention.

If you have clear evidence that they screwed up their job, and also what you are asking for is reasonable, there is a decent chance they will pay. If they decline, then you have everything lined up to take them to small claims court. From what you wrote above, I think your chance of winning your case is strong as long as you have a diagnosis from the shop that parts were damaged during the previous repair.

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:18 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:11 pm
tony5412 wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:06 pm
miamivice wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:02 pm
I generally suggest avoiding disputing charges with your credit card when it comes to vehicles. While the charge might be reversed, the money is still owed. In most states, auto repair places are allowed to place mechanic's liens on your vehicle, which allows them to reposses your vehicle to pay off the debt.
I did hear something about that. They would have to send notification prior to a repo, is that correct?

What would you suggest doing instead? Try to make a deal with the merchant? I suppose if I reached an agreement with them then I can cancel the dispute. The manager did not seem willing to budge when I questioned him but I did not push the issue. A friend suggested hiring an attorney but it seems to not be worth the cost of hiring an attorney. There is the small claims court option I suppose if all else fails.
I would write them a letter, include the photographs that you took, as well as anything the other shop put down in writing (like a diagnosis). Include a request on what you would like from them. Send it certified, to get their attention.

If you have clear evidence that they screwed up their job, and also what you are asking for is reasonable, there is a decent chance they will pay. If they decline, then you have everything lined up to take them to small claims court. From what you wrote above, I think your chance of winning your case is strong as long as you have a diagnosis from the shop that parts were damaged during the previous repair.
Would you suggest addressing it to anyone in particular? The manager could possibly toss it in the trash to prevent the owner from seeing it, if he chooses. Or should I send him a litter initially and see what he can do? If he does nothing, then take it to the next level. I found the owner's e-mail address and have thought about going that route. I once had a similar issue with the dealership. Despite repeated attempts to resolve it with the store manager, he kept giving me the run around, and I did not get results until I sent an e-mail to the owners.

I would even be willing to compromises and possibly meet them in the middle to avoid the hassles of litigation. They would have to meet me at least halfway though.

A friend suggested going back to the shop to "raise hell" (scream, holler, and yell). Although tempting, I'm not sure that would be very productive.

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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by Laren » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:44 pm

It sounds like you have tried to work this out with them, so I wouldn't feel bad about filing the chargeback.

I wouldn't bother with the manager again - he's made his position clear. If you have contact information for the owner, I would go that route. I also wouldn't go in proposing a compromise; I'd describe for the owner what went wrong and the manager's inadequate response, and see what answer you get.

If the owner proposes a compromise, you can consider it, but I wouldn't be the first one to offer to bend. They've cost you more money and time trying to fix what they've done than their bill, so my first offer of compromise would be to say, "You tear up this bill, and I won't ask you to pay the amount I had to pay other people to fix the crummy tape job your people did." You can see how the conversation goes and decide from there.

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:57 am

Laren wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:44 pm
It sounds like you have tried to work this out with them, so I wouldn't feel bad about filing the chargeback.

I wouldn't bother with the manager again - he's made his position clear.
I thought I would give him another chance so he doesn't get "in trouble". He was polite and super friendly (despite giving me the run around). Yet if he had any respect for my position then he would have offered a refund or made things right when I brought it back after the first botched repair.

I questioned the 2nd charge when I went to pick up my car the 2nd time. I brought up a couple of good points and his response was "it's fixed now".

When I went back the third time, he made it seem as if the PCV issue was a total coincidence even though this is the first time I had any issues with the car since buying a couple years ago. He said something about not wanting to give me an $800 estimate if I was only going to need $400 worth of work as if he was doing me a favor. He then wanted to charge me AGAIN to fix what they broke (or at least failed to repair when they had the car previously).

At this point, I lost faith in them and went to the 2nd shop.
Laren wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:44 pm
If you have contact information for the owner, I would go that route. I also wouldn't go in proposing a compromise; I'd describe for the owner what went wrong and the manager's inadequate response, and see what answer you get.

If the owner proposes a compromise, you can consider it, but I wouldn't be the first one to offer to bend. They've cost you more money and time trying to fix what they've done than their bill, so my first offer of compromise would be to say, "You tear up this bill, and I won't ask you to pay the amount I had to pay other people to fix the crummy tape job your people did." You can see how the conversation goes and decide from there.
Sounds like a good starting point. Thanks for the suggestions.

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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by whodidntante » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:10 am

When working on a car sometimes there will be damage and that's just part of the job. It's not necessarily malice or incompetence. The problem is they didn't tell you they damaged it, and did not negotiate an equitable deal with you. Regardless I think you should be willing to share in the costs of the damage they caused, though I don't think paying the full amount is fair, either.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience. A shop damaged my car in a way that made it unsafe to drive home, but it was not malice just "part of the game." They told me exactly what happened right away. I asked them what it would cost to repair it if it wasn't their fault. He told me a price that was reasonable. I offered half that. They took it and fixed my car.

It would obviously be different it the damage was intentional or negligent, i.e., a tort.

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:39 am

whodidntante wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:10 am
When working on a car sometimes there will be damage and that's just part of the job. It's not necessarily malice or incompetence. The problem is they didn't tell you they damaged it, and did not negotiate an equitable deal with you. Regardless I think you should be willing to share in the costs of the damage they caused, though I don't think paying the full amount is fair, either.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience. A shop damaged my car in a way that made it unsafe to drive home, but it was not malice just "part of the game." They told me exactly what happened right away. I asked them what it would cost to repair it if it wasn't their fault. He told me a price that was reasonable. I offered half that. They took it and fixed my car.

It would obviously be different it the damage was intentional or negligent, i.e., a tort.
What if you're told a lie? The shop manager told me that it was likely the hot coolant that broke the PCV valve assembly, but there was nothing melted, it was busted in half. They knew within 10 minutes what the issue was without removing the intake (which normally has to be removed to access this part). I'm fine with it if they break something but not if I have to pay parts AND labo (that I already paid for) to fix it what they broke. That sounds like negligence to me. With that said, I'd probably share the cost, if push came to shove, just to get it done and over with.

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whodidntante
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by whodidntante » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:57 am

tony5412 wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:39 am
whodidntante wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:10 am
When working on a car sometimes there will be damage and that's just part of the job. It's not necessarily malice or incompetence. The problem is they didn't tell you they damaged it, and did not negotiate an equitable deal with you. Regardless I think you should be willing to share in the costs of the damage they caused, though I don't think paying the full amount is fair, either.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience. A shop damaged my car in a way that made it unsafe to drive home, but it was not malice just "part of the game." They told me exactly what happened right away. I asked them what it would cost to repair it if it wasn't their fault. He told me a price that was reasonable. I offered half that. They took it and fixed my car.

It would obviously be different it the damage was intentional or negligent, i.e., a tort.
What if you're told a lie? The shop manager told me that it was likely the hot coolant that broke the PCV valve assembly, but there was nothing melted, it was busted in half. They knew within 10 minutes what the issue was without removing the intake (which normally has to be removed to access this part). I'm fine with it if they break something but not if I have to pay parts AND labo (that I already paid for) to fix it what they broke. That sounds like negligence to me. With that said, I'd probably share the cost, if push came to shove, just to get it done and over with.
That's the part that bothers me. The person you spoke to either didn't know the truth or he was lying and trying to skirt responsibility. It is possible his mechanic lied to him. Customer service people at shops tend to be salesman rather than experienced mechanics.

If you think you could work out an equitable deal still, that would be better. Maybe pay $100 over the original costs if they'll pick up the rest. Don't give them money just reduce that from what they "owe." I wouldn't bother negotiating that unless you feel like it has a high chance of success. It might cause further issues at this point. It's also important that you only negotiate with someone who has decision making power. I.e., that he could say yes. That might be the owner or general manager at this point.

Otherwise you can chargeback. If it works, they might sue, but I doubt it. And if the chargeback doesn't work, you can sue, but I doubt you will. Either way a judge will need to be involved if the parties can't accept the outcome and you probably aren't welcome at the shop anymore.

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:26 am

whodidntante wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:57 am
tony5412 wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:39 am
whodidntante wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:10 am
When working on a car sometimes there will be damage and that's just part of the job. It's not necessarily malice or incompetence. The problem is they didn't tell you they damaged it, and did not negotiate an equitable deal with you. Regardless I think you should be willing to share in the costs of the damage they caused, though I don't think paying the full amount is fair, either.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience. A shop damaged my car in a way that made it unsafe to drive home, but it was not malice just "part of the game." They told me exactly what happened right away. I asked them what it would cost to repair it if it wasn't their fault. He told me a price that was reasonable. I offered half that. They took it and fixed my car.

It would obviously be different it the damage was intentional or negligent, i.e., a tort.
What if you're told a lie? The shop manager told me that it was likely the hot coolant that broke the PCV valve assembly, but there was nothing melted, it was busted in half. They knew within 10 minutes what the issue was without removing the intake (which normally has to be removed to access this part). I'm fine with it if they break something but not if I have to pay parts AND labo (that I already paid for) to fix it what they broke. That sounds like negligence to me. With that said, I'd probably share the cost, if push came to shove, just to get it done and over with.
That's the part that bothers me. The person you spoke to either didn't know the truth or he was lying and trying to skirt responsibility. It is possible his mechanic lied to him. Customer service people at shops tend to be salesman rather than experienced mechanics.

If you think you could work out an equitable deal still, that would be better. Maybe pay $100 over the original costs if they'll pick up the rest. Don't give them money just reduce that from what they "owe." I wouldn't bother negotiating that unless you feel like it has a high chance of success. It might cause further issues at this point. It's also important that you only negotiate with someone who has decision making power. I.e., that he could say yes. That might be the owner or general manager at this point.

Otherwise you can chargeback. If it works, they might sue, but I doubt it. And if the chargeback doesn't work, you can sue, but I doubt you will. Either way a judge will need to be involved if the parties can't accept the outcome and you probably aren't welcome at the shop anymore.
It's possible that the shop manager did not know the truth and the mechanic lied to him. He was very polite and friendly despite all of this. I couldn't tell if it was an act and he was in on it or if he was given a line of BS as well. I guess it doesn't really matter. He was not able to give me a AAA discount when I picked up the car the first time as he said it was too late since the billing statement was already printed out...so he may not be able to do much on his end even if he wanted to. Perhaps it would be best to reach out to the owner and see where it goes. I thought about proposing that I pay for the parts and they cover labor if they are willing to compromise.

The chargeback is currently pending.

tony5412
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Re: Disputing a charge against an auto repair shop, should I give them another chance to make it right?

Post by tony5412 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:41 pm

Thanks for the responses.

I think I will go over the manager's head and write a letter to the owner. I have his e-mail address and can attach pictures and billing statements. I know it was suggested to send it to the shop certified but my concern is the manager will see it (or even open it) and then toss it in the trash. Not saying he would but there is a chance of that happening. Perhaps e-mail would be the best approach to take? Or send it certified to the owner in care of the shop (without a return address) and hope that the manager doesn't open it? They have another shop in another town so I could possibly send it to that one instead.

Also should I send a letter with all of the details and supporting documents to the credit card company? I completed the form on the web but the textbox was not big enough to include too many details.

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