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Back-ordered part problem

I need some advice. I had my car in the shop earlier this month for a check-engine light issue. They told me that the check engine light was indicating a speed sensor fault and also a bad knock sensor. They quoted me a price to repair and I said go ahead with the work. I also asked them to perform a Comprehensvie Service Inspection, as I was preparing to send the car to my sister in Florida and wanted to know if anything else needed repair. They performed this inspection and recommended new front brakes, which I also approved.

The repairs took almost a week to complete “because they were waiting for a part to come in”. They finally called and said it was ready. I went to pick it up, paid and left (this was June 5th). I then made arrangements to ship the car and it went on a truck to Florida a few days later – it’s there now and my sister loves it.

I got call last Thursday (June 19th 2 weeks after picking up my car from the shop) – “that the part came in” and to call them to schedule to have it installed. I said “what”?? “I didn’t know anything was back-ordered for the car”. I was confused and had my sister fax me the invoice (I had shipped the maintenance records to her).

On the invoice they charged me $298.99 for a part and also $93.50 for the labor to install it, but I wasn’t sure it was the part in question or not. So, I took my copy of the invoice to the shop to talk to them. By the way, there is no note on the invoice that anything was back-ordered. The guy I spoke with was surprised that they had already charged me for the part and also that they had charged me labor. They showed me the part – it was a whole speedometer dial replacement. I said why would I need that – the speedometer/odometer is working just fine – I thought I had a ‘sensor’ problem. He said the check engine light indicated that the speedometer head (whole dial thing) needed replacing. I said my sister just had to have the odometer verified to title/register it in Florida – the odometer is working. He was perplexed at this also. He told me I would have to come back when the Manager was in on Monday. I stopped by the office on Monday and the manager was out. So, today I just received a voice mail message that I should come by the office again and they would refund the labor cost and I could pick up the part that I’ve already paid for – meaning they are not willing to refund me the cost of a part that I can’t do anything with at this point.

So, my question is this – they never verbally told me anything was back-ordered # 1) when they called to say the car was ready and # 2) when I was standing at the counter paying and # 3 the invoice doesn’t state this either.

I was completely unaware that any work was outstanding – otherwise I would not have shipped the car to my sister in Florida until everything was complete. Am I obligated to pay for this part? Even if I pay for it – there’s no way my sister could even use it since the odometer reading on it would basically “roll-back” the odometer.

Thank you for any advice that you can offer,


Sounds like you’ve found a bunch of skunks. They charged you for work not done, and apparently, that is not needed. You are entitled to a refund for both the part and the labor. Dig in your heals. Go to the owner, if necessary, and make a lot of noise.

He said the check engine light indicated that the speedometer head (whole dial thing) needed replacing.
There is no OBD II code to indicate any such thing, but high end scanners can diagnose such problems. However, since the speedometer and odometer are working fine, he’s blowing smoke.

BTW, you mention want car this is, but the mileage is no longer stored in the odometer itself in today’s cars. It’s stored in one of the computer modules, so replacing the speedometer head wouldn’t affect the reading.

I suggest that you contact the Consumer Affairs office at the state level, or the county level, or both. These governmental agencies have the power to enforce existing regulations and to take punitive action, if necessary, on your behalf. There is no charge for their services.

If someone advises you to contact the Better Business Bureau, I can tell you that this is likely to be an exercise in futility–unless the business in question is a paid-up member of the private organization that is frequently known as the Better for Business Bureau. And, even if they have paid their membership dues, this still does not assure you of satisfaction.

If the business in question is not a member of the BBB, the most that the organization will do is to take the information and keep it on file for future reference if anyone wants to know about that business.

The BBB has no punitive power except to refuse to accept dues from a business with a record of multiple complaints, and they hesitate to refuse money from their members. However, many of the BBB’s local franchises (yes, they do sell franchises!) will charge YOU a fee in order to file a report with them.

Contact your Consumer Affairs office, and I believe that they will be able to intervene on your behalf–with a result that you will like.