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Repair shop wants me to pay $200 for old parts

Anybody heard this one before? I needed a new catalytic converter, and the repair shop (a national chain starting with (Mo…) wants to charge me $200 if I want my old part back. Unethical? Undoubtedly! Illegal??? I’m not so sure? Anybody know???

I believe they recycle some of the expensive parts of the converters.  So that would be normal and legal.  It is like a battery.  If you have a new battery put in your car, and want to keep the old one, you will normally loose the core fee.  

In both cases you would end up with a part that both worthless for its intended function and which is a hazards waste product that you really don't want to have.   Why in the world would you want it?

This Doesn’t Sound Right To Me.

I would see if your state has some type of regulation regarding the customer’s rights to replaced parts. My state does. They can charge for “cores” on starters, batteries, alternators, etcetera, but converters?

Call several parts stores and/or dealers and see if there are any that charge for the return of the cat.

I can understand why they want it and why you would want it. Precicious metal is worth some bucks.

In effect all the parts on the car you take to the shop belong to you. All the parts you buy from the shop belong to you once they install it and you pay the bill. All the parts are yours.

You certainly have a right to see all the parts taken off your car so you can examine them and determine if they were worn out and broken. This is part of consumer protection law and likely in effect in all 50 states.

Keeping the old parts seems to be where the dispute comes in. Many parts like alternators, starters, etc. are sent to rebuilders. So the shop gets some money back when they send old “cores” back to be remanufactured. It costs money in most states to dispose of tires properly as they are considered “pollutants”. A catalytic converter has materials inside it to nuetralize elements in the exhaust. Used up converters maybe considered pollutants. Perhaps your state or town has some fees or fines that relate to the disposal of catalytic converters. If it is going to cost the shop $200 in fines or fees to turn over the cat to you then they are justified.

I’m not sure why you want the actual used up parts? I always tell the garage that I want to see all the old parts before they dispose of them when I sign the work order and that has never been a problem. When did you tell them you wanted to keep the old parts? Before they started working on the car, or after the work was finished?

They assumed that you did not want them back. The actual cost of the parts and labor is $200 more than they originally quoted you. The precious metals will be recovered when the converter is recycled.

JTS is right…Call a NAPA store, price the converter for your car and ask about any “core charge”. Call several auto-parts stores in your area and pose the same question. You will then have an idea of how these things are priced and sold.

Catalytic converters contain platinum and have high salvage value. $200 may be a little too high…

It isn’t necessarily unethical based on what you have told us. I have bought a rebuilt catalytic converter. If there is a core charge, it was probably factored into your original quote. If you want to keep the old parts, you have to forgo the discount you would have received for letting them recycle the parts. You aren’t being charged extra. You are losing the discount given to people who don’t want their old parts back.

Why would you want to keep the old catalytic converter?

This is a normal “core charge”.

The shop will return the used cat to the supplier who will then make the adjustment to the shop’s cost and forward the converter for recyling. Your adjustment will already have been made in your bill. Should you desire to keep the old cat, the shop needs to be then paid by you for that adjustment amount that they would have otherwise passed on to you as a savings.

These “core charges” can, as you’ve discovered, be considerable. And if you allow the shop to return the part to the supplier they become a considerable savings to you.

Absolutely, absolutely normal. I CAN understand your surprise. As a general customer what you don’t realize is just how many parts are sold on an exchange basis because, with you car inside the shop, the cores are captive so there’s no need to charge you a core deposit then refund it. You would see this more evident if you were buying carry-out parts you install yourself and needing to return the core for your refund.
You may certainly inspect, or take the core to another tech for a second look. Pay the deposit then get it refunded when your questions have been answered.

I always heard that it was federal offense to sell a used catalytic converter.

Maybe there is a distinction between “used” and “rebuilt” in the law. Where did you hear that?

To be honest I can’t recall exactly. But I’ve always thought it to be true since I have never seen a used cat for sale and not even at junkyards. Apparently in California it is illegal to use a rebuilt or used coverter
http://www.racingbeat.com/emissions.htm
and

If there is no core charge they should give it back to you, no charge. Sounds like a the shop is run by a real PUTZ. For the principle of it call your tv station or the local paper although I don’t think it worth it.
A satisfied customer will tell about 3 others while a dissatisfied customer will tell about 10 others. A big hearty “pound salt up yours” to this shop.

Used is used with no rebuilding or reconditioning at all.
rebuilt or reconditioned or recon is an old part that has been made “new”.