I recently paid for a tune up on my 2003 Escape at a garage recommended to me by a friend. A couple weeks after the tune up my check engine light came on, I took it back to the same garage and the mechanic told me that one of the spark plugs was bad & he replaced it. Yesterday on my way to work the check engine light began blinking and the engine was jerking a little. I took the car to a very reputable mechanic and he just called to tell me that my car still has the original spark plugs in it and is desperate need of a tune up! I just paid $250 for a tune up a couple months ago! Did I get scammed? How should I confront the original mechanic?
Start With Your State’s Mechanic/Repair Shop Licensing Division. Find Out What Recourse Is Available To You, Should You Need It. Most States Have Procedures For Infractions.
This way, you’ll have your ducks in a row, and you’ll be ready to confront the mechanic/manger/owner of the shop where the original work was done. If you run into trouble getting satisfaction then you can let them know that there will be consequences, none of which will be desirable.
“How should I confront the original mechanic?” How big is your mechanic?
Send a professionally worded letter by certified mail containing
- a copy of his shop orders saying he’d done X work
- evidence that you paid him
- a copy of the shop order from the second shop detailing the bad plugs
- photos of the plugs the second shop removed (if they returned them to you)
- (in the letter) a description of your breakdowns in timeline with the work he charged you for
- a demand for a refund.
Nobody would be dumb enough to argue with that evidence.
As he always does, mountainbike has given excellent advice.
However, I would go one step further, and retain an extra copy of everything that you send to the original mechanic. That way, if he is foolish enough to refuse a refund, you will have a full folder of appropriate records to bring to the local Office of Consumer Affairs. This government organization is affiliated with the office of the State Attorney General, and that gives them the “muscle” to convince most offenders to do the right thing.
In case anyone suggests that you contact the Better Business Bureau, I can tell you that they will not lift a finger to get compensation for you, beyond perhaps sending a letter requesting a refund. If the mechanic refuses, there is absolutely nothing that the BBB can do–UNLIKE the Office of Consumer Affairs.
I absolutely agree, VDC.
The Office of Consumer Affairs will be somewhere under your state’s Attorney General’s Office. Start that path at your statehouse. And be aware that I myself have had a car of mine involved in an AG’s investigation. I never foundout why, but they requested that I bring the car back at my convenience for a folloup look-see of work that had allegedly been performed. There were a number of cars there for review, aome guys in suits from the AG’s office, and I got a full refund. I never found out what the investigation was about.
You may have uncovered a dishinest shop. Your complaint just might open up an investigation into fraudulant activities.
On the surface, I would say that the first shop owes you every single dime back and that you should never return there again.
I have a few questions though. Why did you take the vehicle there in the first place? Did you specifically ask for a tune-up (kind of a misnomer in today’s world) or was it for a CEL or peformance problem?
Does your original bill show spark plugs being charged out to you?
Just trying to make sure there’s nothing being lost in translation here with a possible performance problem due to one thing leading to the possibly misuse of the tune-up word.
If it’s as stated, then I agree with mountainbike about handling this with a registered letter and creating a paper trail. You should also save those old spark plugs that were allegedly changed out at the start.