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Need advice on a side job gone wrong

I have a question about a side job that was done on my Mitsubishi - and I’ll make a long story as short as possible (i can go into details if needed)…I needed a compressor, a friend of mine works at a dealership and said a mechanic there needed some extra money and he could fix it…so, he looked at it, said the compressor he could get me was $650 and he would charge $100 for labor. I said ok. So I gave him money up front, with an additional $50 for labor. So he got the compressor, told me he flushed the system, put in the compressor…on the way home, a hose blew off…i took it back, he said the compressor was still good, i needed a new a/c muffler hose, and condensor, dryer, etc…said he could do it at his house, but would take a few days and more money. Then he checked the compressor and found out it was bad. I ended up taking it to a legit repair place, had everything done for just under $1300. I told the side job guy I wanted my $650 back he said he would trade my old compressor for a new one. I said what am I going to do with a new compressor, I now have a new one in my car, with a lifetime warranty (his was a year and the “legit” repair place would not put his new one in…understandably). After much discussion with the guy, he said he would pay me the $650, even though he didn’t think he should have to. I told him once he gives me my money, I will give him the old compressor, he can trade for a new one, then sell the new one on Craigslist or Ebay…he said yeah he would do that. Well, one thing after another, excuses excuses, he didn’t have my money…, then said he wasn’t going to give my money back, but would give me the $150 for labor. He did give me the $150 and I told him thank you, that would go towards the $650 due, and the balance now is $500. He refuses to talk to me, refuses to give me my money.
Any suggestions, other than small claims court?

also, come to find out, he didn’t flush the system correctly (he works at Chevy place and they didn’t have equip for a Mits), plus he told me there was a warranty, come to find out there isn’t one.

“I ended up taking it to a legit repair place, had everything done for just under $1300.”

But before you did this, did the first mechanic offer to make it right by replacing the failed compressor he installed? If you decided to have the repair done someplace else, that was YOUR choice…Few shops offer “Your money back if you change your mind” guarantees…I’m afraid you will just have to write the $500 off as an educational expense…

You’re probably going to have to eat the $500 from a practical standpoint. A new compressor needs to include flushing the system and replacement of the dryer etc. So the original work was not done according to accepted standards. While you did have an obligation to let him fix it, he said he would only do the additional work at addional cost. So I think you were released from that obligation. From a practical side though, he is broke, and they may not even replace the compressor due to improper installation, and certainly won’t give him the money back. You can take him to small claims court on it but trying to get any money out of him will be a problem. If you could get the new compressor, you could may sell it but you won’t get anywhere near the $500 for it. That’s my take from a consumer not a mechanic. Nothing wrong with having someone work on your car to save money but it does have risks.

New or rebuilt compressor warranties are void unless the drier and orifice tube are replaced at the same time.

When you go along with a “side” job you assume some risks, that is why it cost less money. While I think the mechanic was in over his head on this job, that is part of the “risk” you take. You got the labor money back. The guy isn’t rich and can’t give you more money and he can’t return the part for credit because you are holding onto it.

At this point you are stuck. You might consider giving the mechanic the part back and hope he can return it and give you some money back when he gets a credit. Since the relationship is so sour at this point I don’t think he would give you anything back for it. Since you can’t use the compressor I’d give it back to him as an act of faith and kindness, don’t expect some money back but perhaps you’ll get lucky.

UncleTurbo is right. You took a risk trying to save some money and your gamble didn’t pay off. This is a powerful lesson on why it’s worth it to pay $1,300 at a legit shop. The extra $550 you would have spent going straight to a legit shop, in retrospect, would have saved you the $500 you lost on your gamble.

If you have the time, and the patience, and the documented proof, you could file a suit in small claims court, but you might not win, and it might be difficult to serve this guy with a subpoena. I think I would cut my losses and move on.

Automotive A/C is a complete rip-off…Go to a home improvement store and see what $1300 in air conditioning will buy…You can install central air conditioning in your home for that kind of money…Complete with a compressor that will last 20 years or more, trouble-free…

I once saw a pick-up truck with a portable generator running in the back corner of the bed and a small window air-conditioner stuck in the back window! I asked the owner what the deal was… He said his solution was MUCH cheaper than repairing the unit in his truck and he got a 2500 watt portable generator in the bargain plus much better cooling! Total cost under $500.

It sounds like the guy is a backyard hack. If he did not replace the drier and make sure that system was working perfectly before handing it over to you then he’s a proven hack.

Want some leverage? You might inform him that you’re going to speak with his employer at the Chevy house about his shoddy workmanship on the side and will also mention your curiosity about doing similar shoddy work at their place of business.
Many automotive employers take a very dim view of mechanics doing side work because things gone wrong will reflect on them. Just something for consideration. :wink:

Well, I’m afraid if I talk to the owner of the dealership, he would fire my friend, too, the one who told me about the guy.

If everything had gone as planned both lyndse and the mechanic would be many dollars ahead and happy with the results. But there was a problem which caused both sides of the deal to lose. It seems that it is usually best to patronize a good shop. As it is everyone lost on this deal. That’s a shame.

Your choices are small claims court or to write it off as the cost of an education. I’d recommend the latter. I doubt if a small claims court will feel much sympathy in this case.