Should I pay for part?

My mechanic said I needed a new part that cost $800. Now the work is done, and he said he the old part worked after all. I said “well, I wouldn’t be paying $800 for a part you didn’t use, right?” and he said “well, I can put the new part in your hand”. He also said something like “his mechanic threw the box out”. It makes no sense that he didn’t use the new part - makes me think they order the wrong part. Either way, why in the world would I have to pay for it? I’m sick to my stomach, because I can’t stand conflict. I don’t know what to do.

How about a phone call to the local Office of Consumer Affairs, to find out what legal protections you have in your state?

Don’t bother with the Better Business Bureau, which is a private, profit-making institution that does little to actually help consumers. Instead, consult with Consumer Affairs, the governmental agency that does have regulatory and punitive power through the Office of The Attorney General.

In some states, the Office of Consumer Affairs is a state agency, and in others it is run on the county level, but a little bit of “Googling” should enable you to find the contact info for this agency.

What was the part? Was it electrical? Some suppliers will refuse to take an electrical part back if it has been installed on a vehicle. I would think he misdiagnosed the issue, and didn’t need the part he ordered. That should make the wrong part his problem. Did he fix the car? If that’s the case, you do owe him for the fix.

That’s a horrible mechanic. He shouldn’t pass his screwup down to you. You owe him for fixing the car but not for parts you didn’t need, even by his admission. It will take conflict to resolve this. He may be sensing that you’re not comfortable with that. Bring along a large male witness along with you next time.
Then take him to small claims court, if he doesn’t see the light.

Unless there’s something odd going on here, I fully support VDCdriver’s suggestions.

Just curious, but what kind of part is this and did you approve the installation of that part based on what they told you?
Did the problem with the car turn out to be something else and if so, what?
Does this mechanic still have the new part collecting dust in his shop?

If your car is now repaired and the new part is still in the hands of the mechanic I see no reason why you should be billed for it; even if it was a special order or a wild guess diagnosis.
Maybe they shouldn’t be so hasty to throw out boxes either.

You don’t owe him for a part that wasn’t broken, or the labor tied to that part. What was the part? What was wrong with the car, and is it now fixed? I would refuse. You may end up in small claims court, but you’ll win.

I understand that you shouldn’t pay for the part, however, don’t forget that if you don’t pay the full bill, the mechanic can put a “mechanics lien” on your car for the unpaid work/part. That allows him to legally confiscate and sell the car to recover his loss. So you don’t really have the option of paying or not paying. You can use a credit card to pay for it and then go to Visa or Master Charge and dispute the bill. They will deal with the mechanic but just remember that these people don’t understand anything about cars. The other option is to pay it and go to small claims to recover your loss. But then that will rely on the mechanic writing you a check which might never happen. Might want to try talking to the parts place that he got it from to see what they say.

Best option is to use a credit card and dispute the bill. They have his money then until its settled and he has to explain it.

“Best option is to use a credit card and dispute the bill. They have his money then until its settled and he has to explain it” — Agree.

What was the parts?
What was wrong with the vehicle?
What did the shop order say he did to the vehicle?
Does the vehicle work well now?

What kind of car?
How many miles?
Maintenance history good?
Any recent repairs that are relative?

While I fully realize and have been victimized by poor and/or dishonest mechanics, I’m also disinclined to make any assumptions without the whole story. Far too often the scenerio changes completely when everything is known.

By the way, I also understand the anxiety that comes with getting a car repaired and the anxiety that comes with attemptong to confront a mechanic when you know little about cars. When you suspect something dishonest but are in “his world”, it can drive you to serious anxiety attacks. Been there, done, I think we can help better with the details. We can either offer meaningful adibve for resolution or explain better what the shop did. It is possible that his is all a misunderstanding based upon a comment he made “off the cuff”.

My take, they thought it was a bad part, put a new part in, it did not solve the problem. They cannot return the part, but now you have an extra. Was the problem resolved? It is tough to make the mechanic eat the cost, I would assume they made their best guess, and it was wrong. It happens. Maybe a credit for future repairs, oil changes etc. might be an option.

I think the real issue is a bad diagnosis, combined with poor work habits (not saving the box)

While the guy did apparently fix the problem, I’m not sure why he didn’t try to return that new part, versus telling the customer about his initial misdiagnosis

If he would have returned the new part and reinstalled the original part, the customer might have seen him as being an honest guy who admitted that his initial diagnosis was incorrect

As it stands, the customer is left “holding the bag” and and has no choice but to assume the guy is incompetent, or possibly even fraudulent, because they’re paying to replace a part that they literally know was not defective

This is the best way to lose a customer

And that lost customer may well tell their friends that this shop is no good

Word may get out and even more customers may jump ship

A question for the pros. This seems like it is part of the ‘give and take’ between the shops and the parts vendors. If a shade tree do-it-yourselfer did this, sure, the parts vendor might well not take it back. Shade tree mechanics are much more likely to damage a part, esp an electrical part, in the process of fixing the car. But don’t pro shops have an “arrangement” with the parts vendors, that if they find the part wasn’t bad, the vendor will take the part back with a full refund? I mean provided the car hasn’t been driven more than a brief outing with the part installed. If the mechanic can remove the part, package it up as before, won’t most vendors take it back? Not because they are legally required to, but as a professional courtesy, and to keep on the mechanic’s good side?

If that’s the case, then it seems to me if the reason the parts vendor won’t take the part back is because the mechanic lost the original packaging, well that is the shop’s error, and the shop should take the hit. Not the customer. The shop should not charge the customer, just keep the part , and hope to use it later, on another customer’s car. Or the shop could sell the part to another shop.


Not every vendor will take back a part that was mistakenly ordered. Electrical parts, for example, are often non-returnable. If they do take a part back, there may well be a re-stocking fee. For example, if a transmission was ordered, it’s obviously more expensive to put it back in the warehouse versus a MAF

Here’s another problem you may or may not have thought of:

If I open a box, I will probably have to slice through some sort of tape

Once the box is opened, the part itself may be wrapped in plastic, which I’ll also have to slice

If I then realize I don’t need that new part, the plastic has already been sliced
If the parts vendor takes the part back and refunds me, they will probably NOT be able to make it appear as if the box was never opened.

They will most likely plan on selling the part to the next guy, in the box and plastic that I sliced

Many mechanics, myself included, do NOT want to install a a part that looks like it’s already been unpacked. I have personally had some bad experiences doing this. There are unscrupulous mechanics and shops out there that cheat by cleaning and “returning” the old defective parts for a full refund, claiming they didn’t need the new part after all. Crazier things have happened . . .

Yes, @db, if a part, especially an electronic component, is delivered from a parts house has any appearance of being previously installed it will be refused. Why take a chance on the part being damaged or defective or junk.

Db is correct and it’s not just unscrupulous mechanics or shops that do return defective parts. DIYers have been known to do the same thing.

While working for Nissan, a reman transmission was shipped to us and when I broke the crate open I found a junk transmission inside. The trans had the look of one that had been blasted off at the car wash but it was not really reman clean.

Pay the bill, take the part and sell it on Ebay and consider this as a reason to go to a dealer next time who can return the part to his stock. The dealer can use the part for another car, another day, new packaging or not. Sometimes you need to try a new part to learn if the old one was working or not.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this scenario. Why would the shop hand you a new part that you didn’t need? Maybe they’re too honest. They could have just installed the part and sent you on your way without mentioning that you didn’t need it. Or they could have just fixed the car and refunded your money for the not-needed part. I would expect one or the other from most shops out there.

Or they could have just fixed the car and refunded your money for the not-needed part.

I guess it depends on what part it was @asemaster . If it was something the shop will likely need to fix another customer’s car not too far into the future – like if the shop works a lot of Toyotas, and the part is a Toyota fuel pressure regulator, something say which fits Corollas, Camrys, Matrixes, etc – then why would the shop give it to the customer who doesn’t need it, and make her pay for it? The shop should just keep it, and use it next time they need it. They’ll be more likely to get repeat business from the customer that way.

But if it was an ECM or PCM, a specialized circuit board, which would only fit certain make/model/years, and even then it might not work out of the box b/c the software could be incorrectly configured, then the shop would likely prefer to get that item off its hands.

As a customer, I don’t get why a shop would try and either charge for a part they now want to keep (old part re-installed??) or spend the extra labor (and charge for that??) to remove the new part and put back the old part. Either sounds kind of shady to me. Even when a diagnosis is a miss on a part replacement, I usually get at least the “well, it didn’t fix it, but now you know that part is good for the future rather than an old one that still might have broken sooner than later… Think of it as preventative maintenance” when I buy an unnecessary part.

But for the shop to try and keep the new one and still get me to pay for it and labor on putting it in and out?

I have a hard time imagining that actually happening.

This thread is 3 weeks old…The OP never returned…Parts is Parts, nobody cares…