Unauthorized repairs made to my vehicle

I need some advice. I scheduled our van to get some work done which would have run us about $1300. After talking with my husband about it, he said no way, we don’t have the money for that. He said he’d take it in to the appointment and have them hold off on the initially scheduled repairs. He’d have them find the actual problem (it was leaking radiator fluid) instead. He did just that…took it in, explained the leak, asked them to check why the defrost wasn’t blowing and asked them to do an oil change. After receiving the estimate on the repairs, we opted to only fix the radiator and do the oil change. The rest was not to be done as we don’t have the money to pay for it. Long story short, they did it all and are trying to stick us with a $1900 bill!! We have spoken with the service advisor, the service manager and my husband has an appointment with the general manager (this is a dealership) tomorrow, Jan 20th. We are obviously fighting this because we did not authorize all of the extra work to be done, not to mention the lack of funds to pay for it. The dealership claims that my husband said to go ahead and do the work. I know he wouldn’t have said yes. When it comes to money, he’s pretty firm. I even asked the manager to see if the phone call was recorded for proof that Dan was telling the truth. He checked, the call wasn’t recorded. Argh! Any input would be helpful. Thank you so much!

If your lucky, they’ll offer a small discount. This is why you don’t get work done at dealerships. Not only does it cost a lot more and usually the work is sub-par, but it’s easy for lack of communications with so many people, it’s hard to narrow down who you’ve talked to along the way. Since your husbands careful with his money, why hasn’t he found a reputable locally owned repair shop. If he had, there’d be about a 100% probability that you wouldn’t be in this predicament. Good luck and please post the offer the dealership gave you.

Ask to see the hard copy of the repair order, it legally must have an original estimate with a signature. When any additional work is authorized it must be documented with date and time. If this information is not on the hard copy it is tough cookies for the shop. Make sure you get a copy of the repair hard copy before you leave the dealer. They also can not remove parts once they have been installed. What state are you in?

We are in Arkansas. My husband picked up the hard copy tonight to bring to the meeting with the general manager tomorrow. We’ll look it over to see if the things you mentioned, SteveC76, are documented. I’ll be sure to let you all know how it turns out. :confused:

You should document everything in writing in chronological order and file a formal complaint with your state Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection. That should get their attention.

Good luck.

You say that you have a copy of the repair order.

What I would like to know is exactly what is stated on the repair order as to customer wants or complaints?

This should have you hubby’s signature and depending upon what is on that RO it may not be unauthorized at all.

I tried to find the exact laws for your state but I can’t seem to find them. You might want to look here http://www.gotyourbackarkansas.org/resources/resources-for-your-vehicle

Here’s another angle to the bill.
Make them charge it and wait ! …No interest, no specific payment due date… just wait !
At least that could be one of the angles to stress at the meeting.
If he in fact said to wait due to funding ( you’d eventually repair it and pay them somehow )…yet they went ahead with the repairs…THAT is a completly viable choice for them to allow you to continue forward.

The copy of the order has a handwritten “hold” next to the gasket repairs and the motor mounts, a “do” next to the oil change, a “diag” (diagnose?) next to leak (turned out to be radiator) and "diag"next to defrost system. My husband signed the bottom. That’s it. Seems like we have a good case? I hope. I just want to say again how much I appreciate all your input! :slight_smile:

Yup, it sounds like you have a good case.

That definitely works in your favor, make sure you get a copy of that hard copy. If things do get nasty what is documented is a clear indication that the work was not authorized.

Make another copy of the work order, just in case they want to see it and then “misplace” it.

Even if you don’t have to pay in the end if the work was necessary or helps it value you owe them something. Not full price of that repair but something.

Good luck.

I’d say the work would need to be done eventually. The head gasket could potentially saved your engine. It was a mistake, but they deserve to get payed for their work, given a new engine, not out of the foreseeable possibilities would be a catastrophe. Try for a discount, and a monthly payment you are comfortable with, at o interest of course.

ah well, if you are comfortable financially, and the work was necessary , pay them, I guess. if you are strapped and they screwed up it s their problem, I don t see any ethical problem with not paying them for anything that was not authorized, in fact it seems likely that they were the unethical ones and trying to make the decision for you, and make money dishonestly. perhaps there was a mix up, but that isn t your fault either.

of course that only applies if your account is accurate, and it seems so.

Well, it’s over. The general manager wasn’t too nice about the whole thing. My husband called the police to see if they could help. They couldn’t but I believe their presence had an impact. End story; a compromise. We split the bill. We payed $1000 and they payed/ate $1000. Even though we didn’t authorize the extra work and had to pay $450 more than we had planned, I’m happy how it ended. We actually ended up getting $1300 worth of work for $450. There’s always a silver lining. Lesson learned. We won’t be going to them again and we will be certain to sign off on all future repairs when the time comes. Thanks again everyone!!! :slight_smile:

I would offer to pay full price for the repairs that I authorized and try to make a deal on the ones you didn’t. A nice discount for your troubles and headaches over this, and a payment plan you can live with at zero interest, sounds fair to me. Let them know that you have been happy with their service in the past and would like to continue and you may have a little more sway with them.
Even if you plan to never use them again, but I think this was an honest mistake by the mechanic and not an attempt to hose you.

You did need the work done at some point!!!

I think the mechanic just overlooked the notations on the work order.
Maybe the guy was new and was used to a different system.


I agree that this was probably an oversight rather than fraud. However, any oversight is on their end and they should eat any mistake on their part.

It would be interesting to know what’s going on with the mechanic after this matter is settled with you.
Depending upon the situation there (it varies due to certain factors) that mechanic may be major league backflagged or out of a job tonight at worst.

The police won’t get involved too much in something like this as it’s a civil matter; not a criminal one. Getting close to fistcuffs they may get very involved.

I think @Barkydog has a good point. They may have saved your engine and Ken suggesting that it could be paid over time. When I was a kid, it was just standard practice at the Ford garage to run a repair tab and pay over a few months. After that 13 pages of the thread on side work done at the dealer, I don’t necessarily condone not paying for work done, even though it was not authorized.

I don’t want to offend anyone, but some folks just can’t read very well and might not have fully read the work order and all the notes on it. When we built a new storage facility for our compressed gas tanks at work, we made tags that read “M.T.” instead of “empty”. Even though we had a pretty good group of people, we were cautioned that some people just can’t read very well but will never admit it.

Wow, I remember learning to tag empty oxygen and acetylene containers with M-T way back when I took my first welding class in the early '70s. I always figured it was a carry over from a time even longer ago when there were a lot of illiterate folks still around. I’m amazed that the system is still being used.