I brought my 96 Mazda Miata in for a check engine light situation, and they found a vacuum hose that was disconnected. Great diagnostics! I was happy.The other shop couldn't solve the problem.
I then brought my 90 Honda Accord in for a free oil change. It was free because I recommended the place to my sis and she had her car serviced there..
I also wanted to have the engine timed, and have them replace the fuel filter.
Dave called me and said that the distributor rotor and cap should be replaced and that the rear brakes needed adjusting. I ok'd everything without asking for the cost of the parts and labor.
A huge error on my part. I plead guilty. Naive me. I should have asked.
I was charged $32.35 for the oil change. Only the labor was free. Dumb of me to trust that free is really free.
The fuel filter which costs $12.09 at O'Reilly auto parts was marked up to an astounding $41.63 and then I was charged a stupefying $48.79 to install it. It totals $90.42
I'm a certified retired auto mechanic. I just didn't feel like doing this small job myself and trusted that this five minute installation would be done as a simple courtesy, or charged a reasonable fee. I have changed hundreds of filters, and this one was easy to get to and as simple to install as an oil filter.
The distributor cap and rotor kit retails for $17.99 I was charged $57.04 for the kit and $29.28 for the installation. Total-$86.32 Another five minute job. Honestly.
Adjusting the rear brakes was $48.79. In most places for another twenty bucks I could have had the brakes replaced. This job takes five minutes per side for someone working like Molasses in a blizzard.
For everything the bill came to $309.07. I was given a discount of $41.24--Whooopy--which brought the grand total to $277.43
The next day I checked my oil and discovered that the timing hole cover was missing. I called and the mechanic there who timed it told me it wasn't on the car when he worked on it.
When I was a mechanic every shop I worked in had a policy that if something is missing on the customer's car in the area the mechanic was working on it had to be reported to the shop manager immediately so the customer could be notified before the work started. This protected both the mechanic and the shop from the accusation that they forgot to reinstall a part.
I wasn't notified, and there was no mention on the repair bill that it was missing.
I know my car. The part was there when I washed down the engine with a couple of friends a few days earlier. No big deal, but I'm not a liar.
Dave glibly told me that he has no competition. I beg to differ. he has plenty.
It's a good shop that does fine work, but ask about the parts and labor prices before saying okay to the work and check parts prices with any auto store or dealer first.
I would like to give them a better rating, but in good conscience can't because I feel violated on the parts and labor. I'm on a fixed income and can't afford this kind of reaming.
One more thing. The discount coupons he offers have to be presented before any work is done. That's not transparent. If he has nothing to hide one should be able to use them after he submits the final bill as is the practice anywhere else.
I have to understand that this isn't the old America. Business practices have changed, and it's partly my fault for being naively trusting where it comes to business. I will always ask in the future.
I wrote Dave a letter that addressed my concerns.
He wrote back simply that the car came in without the cover, and PS. Estimates were given prior to any work being done. You approved the work.
I sure did, blindly trusting that the prices wouldn't entail a trip to the bank for a quick loan.