Please help settle a disagreement

Please help settle a disagreement between my husband and myself. Our son’s 1985 VW Quantum broke down about an hour from our home in a neighboring state, right by a repair shop. Son, who is 25, went into the shop and asked them to look at it and not do any unauthorized work (because the car is on its last legs, as you might guess).

The mechanic called two days later and said the car was ready for pick-up, although no one had called to authorize work. The shop is only open 8-5 on weekdays, so son stopped there on his way to work (in another borrowed vehicle) to pick up the invoice and pay $100.00; he planned to go back after work, at which time the shop would be closed, and get the car with the help of a friend.

When he & his friend arrived, the car wouldn’t start. We called the shop the next day, and they said it worked when they finished, so it would cost more $$$ to look again.

Well, Dad went down on the weekend, changed a fuse, and got the car running to son’s place. Here’s the question: my husband, the perpetual devil’s advocate, says the shop did nothing wrong, that you are paying for their time, and they spent time looking. I say that first of all, they probably knew that no one would authorize work on that junker and they saw the opportunity to pick up an easy $100.00. I also think that they should have looked at it for free if it didn’t work after paying for “repair.”

So what do you think?

I think I have a headache.

Wow, you’re still nursing an '85 Quantum? Amazing! I gave up on my '83 many years ago. Not a bad car, though. How many miles on this car?

I think you should be glad they only charged $100. For that amount they surely didn’t do much. Maybe it ran when they were done doing whatever they did. It’s a “he said, she said,” and on one will win.

Too bad your son didn’t try to start the car after paying the bill. That might have made a difference, but it’s too late now.

Forget it and move on.

A $100 diagnostic charge just to look at it and do no work on it would have been fair enough. You asked them to look, you paid the bill, and it’s time to move on.

If you decided not to have any work done, you would have had to pay an hourly labor rate for the diagnosis, which would likely be about the same as this repair cost you. Either way, you were going to pay anyway. Whether you paid for a diagnosis or a repair, it isn’t worth worrying about now.

Also, you’re possibly asking for more than $100 worth of headaches if the shop tries to enforce a ‘mechanic’s lien’ on your car (tow it) to get the $100. Painful as it is, I’d pay it and move on.

Yes you are right, the shop saw an easy way to make a risk free 100.00 and they took it (and got away with it I may add). Perhaps they are not good mechanics but pretty good making money other ways.

Also, your story indicates they actually claim to have fixed the problem for $100. What do they say they did?

You’re being totally unreasonable IMHO.

First, they were asked to “look” at the car but not do any unauthorized work. They said it was done and charged $100. This amount constitutes the effort to “look” at the car but would not represent any actual work. They likely did an initial diagnosis, found something minor like replacing the same fuse your husband replaced, charged you the standard diagnostic fee and off you go.

Of course, your repair bill should detail what was done for the $100.

Businesses do not exist by giving away free services. When diagnostic fees are waived, it is because the follow on work was enough to absorb those costs.

One mistake was not starting the car at the time the bill was paid. Even so, who’s to say the problem remains and that fuse will continue to blow occasionally when the conditions are right. Just one possible scenario…

The price is not unreasonable, but the car should have been fixed (as they claimed it was) when you got to it. They should have fixed it again at no charge, or for parts only with no labor charge.

I think you’re way offbase on this. According to you this car is “on it’s last legs” and is also described by you as a “junker”.
You take this non-running heap into a shop and expect the mechanic (who works on commission) to spend X amount of time on this thing for free?

You also do not state the circumstances behind the car quitting, any symptoms that would lead to advice that may help you solve this, or how the car was running after this fuse replacement along with which particular fuse it was that got replaced.

Not only that, but this car is a CIS injection model and that just makes the situation much, much worse.

Food for thought here if this fuse was the fuel pump fuse. A worn fuel pump going in and out could have decided to knock out the fuse. If this is the case then this will likey occur again until the pump is replaced.

A $100 minimum diagnostic charge is normal. Repair would not usually be included without authorization, unless it was found quickly to be something simple that $100 would cover anyway, like a loose or corroded wire…or a blown fuse…the price of which might be added as a “parts charge” at teh shop’s discretion.

What you did not say in your post is whether or not they gave you a diagnosis for the $100. That’s what you paid for, and that’s what you have coming.

Did they give you anything for your money?