Honest vehicle repair (or was I ripped off)?


#1

While vacationing in Florida last year, my vehicle suddenly stopped working. I called AAA and the tow truck driver ‘recommended’ a nearby local auto repair shop. To make a long story short, the Fl. shop replaced my Computer (PCM) and sent me on my way. The check engine light was still on but the vehicle got me back home to Maryland. About 10 months later I needed to get the vehicle emissions tested and took it to my local auto repair shop to get the check engine light resolved. The Md shop needed to replace the PCM and tried to contact the Fl. shop about the warranty of the existing PCM but got no answer. They (Md) replaced the PCM so my vehicle could pass emissions. I have 2 questions:

1.After seeing what the Md shop charged me (~$280) for the new PCM; I believe the Fl. Shop overcharged me for the same part ($900, part # 56040322AC). The Fl. Shop said that the part was new and came directly from the dealership. I looked online and the dealership price was $149.95 (ref http://www.dodgeautocomputers.net/rr-catalog-ecu/DODGE-RAM%202500%20VAN-2002-ECM-ECU-PCM-rnr.htm). Is this kind of markup common? Did the Fl. Shop take advantage of my desperate situation (family stranded in Fl)?

2.The Fl. Shop insisted that I needed to send the old PCM part to him for replacement. I did not see the sense in this; I would have been without my vehicle for ~2 weeks waiting for him to replace the PCM. Is it common for shops to handle part warranty issues themselves? Especially when it concerns an out of state return? I was under the impression that the Md. shop would be able to ‘work’ with the existing warranty.

(I have copies of all receipts and correspondences)


#2

Well, that’s a sticky problem.

You’re comparing two different shops, but they might not be using the same part. The parts you linked to are remanufactured. When I look up parts at a Dodge dealer, I see list prices of up to $779 for an engine ECM. The shop in FL said they used a new part direct from the dealer, so they probably bought that part with its $779 list price and then had their markup (normal for independent shops). That EASILY could push $900. Do you know what the list price for that exact part number new is?


#3

That said, if the FL shop sent you away with the check engine light still on, and didn’t advise you as to why it was still on, they ripped you off.


#4

I agree with shadow. Any proper shop would read the codes for the CEL THEN figure out where to go from there


#5

You’re not going to get a PCM for anything from a dealer for 149 dollars so you’re confusing the issue a bit by comparing aftermarket to original Dodge dealer OEM.

As to whether you needed a PCM that’s impossible to say because we know nothing about the vehicle, the mileage, history, the definition of “not working”, and any and all diagnosis that led to a PCM replacement.


#6

Thanks to everyone for the comments. I guess I was a little put off by the lack of the Fl. shop ‘working’ with me to resolve the warranty on the PCM and the (Md.) cost of the replacement (~$280). Given the above comments, it seems that the $900 cost would be reasonable for a new PCM.


#7

If the new PCM was faulty as indicated, mail it back insured parcel post to the Florida repairman and he can exchange and ship a new part to you, assuming it is still in warranty, I think that is what he was suggesting when you talked to him. I would do that, and then decide if I should keep the new in box PCM for the future, or sell on E-Bay to retrieve some of the costs of your overall repair bill.

It is not uncommon for the repairman to have to return the defective parts to his source, for replacement due to a defect. Without the old part, no new part get provided under warranty from the parts source. There may be some exceptions to returning to the actual source of the purchase (nation-wide parts stores with receipt), but since this was a dealer purchase, it would need to be sent back to the dealer for replacement.