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What do you guys think?

Hi there,
I need to know what you guys think about this.
Yesterday morning, a customer brought a couple of trucks (Canyon 2010 and Silverado 2002) to my shop. He said the two trucks had to be ready for that afternoon. I told him he could count on that. However, in reviewing them I noticed that both trucks needed serious repairs: brakes, tune-ups, shocks, bearings, etc. I called him and told him would be needed two technicians working on them all day and the cost of repair would be $ 2,000.00. He told me that the price was right but insisted the trucks had to be ready as soon as posible.
Technicians worked hard and finally the trucks were repaired and cleaned at 6:00 P.M. as agreed.
The customer came to pick up the truck with his wife, but he asked to see the parts replaced of their vehicles first. Without any objection I showed each piece so he had no doubts about the integrity of my workshop.
However, when he tried to pay me, his credit card was declined. So I asked if he had any other card but he said no. So he asked me to give him the keys of their trucks and that the next day he would come to pay me. I told him that I could not do that because of the shop policies ( the truth is I did not trust him). He got very upset. He told me that my shop policies were ridiculous and that I would lose customers that way. He and his wife finally left the shop angry as hell.
He came this morning and paid cash for his two trucks. He also told me that he would never come back to my shop again because I mistrusted him.
I felt terrible, what do you guys think?

That’s not a customer. That’s a guy with a broken truck. There’s a difference. Not everyone out there is qualified to be a customer. The fact that you didn’t trust him from the outset tells me he should probably find another shop anyway.

You won’t lose any customers any more than Safeway or Kroger would by not allowing people to take home carts of groceries and come back the next day to pay for them.

Sometimes the best thing a shop owner can say is “no.”

You did 100% the right thing. Many shops have been scammed by such sob stories. His failure to have credit is not your problem.

Quit feeling terrible as you handled it correctly. His card was declined and you’re supposed to let this guy walk off with both vehicles and 2 grand worth of repairs? Not in a long lifetime.

I don’t gamble at all but I’d feel safe in betting 20 bucks that if you had let the guy leave sans payment this would turn into one of those chase them down and hound them for payment situations that would leave you holding the bag.

Don’t feel terrible. You had no choice. The guy had a lot of nerve.

I absolutely 100% stand behind your actions. You have absolutely nothing to feel terrible about.
I wouldn’t worry about him returning. Now that he knows he has to pay, you’ll never see him again. I’d bet on it. And if you do, you’ll be perfectly within your rights to decline the work. I would.

Trying to slink away without paying was probably the guy’s intention all along and the husband and wife are just angry because things didn’t work out that way.

I’ve done what the guy was asking you to do a few times and it always, always led to my having to chase someone down to get my money. I always got my money but there were a few times I wasn’t turning my back on anyone while doing so.

Well others will disagree, but the word “policy” should be stricken from the vocabulary of business people-at least in dealing with customers. While maybe he wasn’t trustworthy, you always give people the benefit of the doubt. If he didn’t pay then you could always go the mechanix lien route to get your money. I wrote policies for others to follow but when the conditions warrant, those policies were broken. It shouldn’t be broken by line workers, but the manager or boss or owner is the one who can and should make exceptions for the good of the company. If someone would tell me it is our policy, that only tells me that he is not in charge enough to make an exception. It should not be an excuse. So you got your money but lost a customer plus those he will tell about how he was treated. You turned a positive into a negative for a lousy $2000.

So the service writer at the desk after having the card declined can say its the policy to get the money first but then can say let me get the boss or check with the boss. Then the exception can be made and the lower level staff is off the hook, and the policy has been followed and an exception made by the person that made the policy in the first place. Policies are general statements of desired results but are not laws.

Now as far as the credit card goes, sure maybe he was over the limit, etc. but I have excellent credit, never had a problem, but there have been several times when a charge has been declined. For what reason I have no idea and the bank just said they should have run it through again. Most of the time I have alternate cards but one time I had to go home and get the cash for a tank of gas after they wouldn’t take my check. There was nothing wrong with my card or credit or check but I never did business there again.

Thats the way I see it.

Go to Costco and pick out a $2000 TV and see if they will let you take it home today and come back tomorrow and pay for it.

A lousy $2000 is maybe a third of what a guy running a small independent garage will take home in a month. Are you that cavalier with 30% of your salary?

If this were a regular established customer at the shop there would probably have been a credit agreement in place that allows a fleet customer to drop and pick up cars all month long and pay the bill by the 20th of the next month. If not, it’s payment at the time services are rendered. A mechanic’s lien is worthless once the car leaves your garage.

What this guy wanted was an unsecured cash loan for $2000 with nothing more than his word that he would pay it back. Payday loans do that sort of thing, but the interest rate is something like 200%.

As for the credit card, who cares? The credit card was denied, that’s all I care about. If you wrote me a check that’s returned NSF I don’t care if it’s because of a payroll error or account hack. All I know is I didn’t get my money, and they why or why not is your problem to sort out.

Did the shop lose future sales to this guy? Maybe, maybe not. Who’s he going to complain to? His other friends who also expect to get service now and pay later? Not a big loss.

A mechanic’s lien doesn’t ,mean anything in a case like this. The shop owner would have to sue the customer in a small claims court.
Even if the judgement is a slam dunk collecting that judgement may not be. Winning the case is easy; it’s digging up info about assets and collecting that is a PITA.

Sorry, that truck owner should have had his ducks in a row before authorizing 2 grand worth of work on 2 separate vehicles. He and his wife were hoping to slither out with a faux promise.

I’ll be in OK City next week. Think I’ll stop at Guitar Center and ask if I can haul a Marshall full stack home with a promise to put a check in the mail for it the next day. That should work well…

If you had let him go, how do you know that he would come back and pay you; you don’t.

If you were okay with loosing $2K, then you could have gambled. I think my limit is $20.

If I were the costumer, I would understand and would try to get my backup credit card, a debit card or at least a check or some sort of collateral (maybe one of the trucks).

"So you got your money but lost a customer plus those he will tell about how he was treated. You turned a positive into a negative for a lousy $2000.

So the service writer at the desk after having the card declined can say its the policy to get the money first but then can say let me get the boss or check with the boss."

How can you lose a customer, if it was the first time that guy ever set foot in the door

It just means you didn’t gain a customer. Not the same thing as losing a customer

Had the service writer checked with the boss, the boss would have said “No. We don’t know this guy at all. He can pick up his trucks when he pays us.”

If you size the guy up and don’t want to take a chance on him, based on his appearance, business, or whatever, that’s fine. Just don’t tell me its your policy. Makes you sound impotent and a wimp. If its your decision, fine but don’t hide behind a policy. And don’t expect him to beat a path to your door if you happen to be wrong about him.

There have been tons of times that I’ve swung by after work or in the morning and paid for work done. I was even on vacation in Florida while head gaskets were replaced for over 1K and they put my car in the garage and I paid when I got home.

I wouldn’t feel bad about losing his business, or how you handled this situation at all.
You have only lost a customer that you don’t want anyway, and I doubt that he has any pull to get others to avoid your shop. EVeryone probably knows his history, and he most likely came to you because another shop that he’s been using, makes him pay in advance.

I’ve had to chase people down too many times, and every one of them I lose some of my profits on trying to collect.
Even with a small claims case you never really collect all the time and agrivation that you spend on the case.
In Wisconsin…small claims does not let you collect enough for your time and expenses to garnish his wages each week. I had a case a few years ago. I don’t remember the amounts, but the amount you can tack on the the balance each time you garnish wages is less than the cost to have the sheriff serve him at home, serve the business the person works for, and the filing fees.
I think I was always out about $15 each week I garnished, plus my time to file the paper work in the county that he lived in and then the county that he worked in(another 1 1/2 hour’s work lost and milage).

For any of you that do have to garnish, here’s a trick I used to garnish his bank accounts.
Get your judgment from the court and sit tight…then file the garnishment papers for the bank the week before Thanksgiving. That’s when the person will most likely have his CHristmass saving built up. This was the way I got over half the money he owed. I felt sorry for the kids, but that’s not my fault. You don’t need account numbers just his name, address and the bank he does business with. I knew the owner of another business that the man frequented and asked the business owner to let me know where he banked, the next time the guy came in and paid with a check.

I’ve been lucky in the 37 years that I’ve been in business, and have only had to take two people to court. But I’ve had at least 25 that I’ve had to hound to get my money.



You did the right thing! The guy knew the credit card would be declined and was trying to use you as a source of cash, temporarily or, most likely permanently.

The fact that he neglected his vehicles for so long also speaks of cash flow problems or a very careless attitude.

If this person badmouths you, you don’t need the “customers” who side with him, and the ones who ignore his ranting will side with you anyway!

You did the right thing. This guy was a scam artist who would never have come back anyway because you would not have been paid. You don’t want this type of person as a customer. I would have told him he was banned from the shop right after I received payment. I don’t suffer fools or scammers very well.

No question here; that guy handed you plastic that he knew wouldn’t cover it, and I’d bet heavily against there being any chance you’d have seen him again. I also strongly suspect that if you drove past the address that was given for the repair order, there’d be no vehicles there to execute a mechanic’s lien repo on, either.

@Bing - I disagree. If this was a known customer, then fine, bend the rules. But a stranger off the street? No way. And I’m fine with using ‘it’s our policy’. If he had said ‘No, it’s my decision.’ that makes it personal. “No, I don’t trust you.” That could easily result in a long argument, perhaps a dangerous one.

Since he had 2 trucks, I’d let him take 1 and keep the other until he paid.

Telling a guy that it’s standard procedure to not offer credit is better and more professional than telling him you’d do it for anyone else but not for him. This is business, not personal.

That being said, I’m sure the savings and loan around the corner has a “policy” that they don’t service and repair cars and trucks. I have a “policy” that I don’t loan out money. I’ll bet I break my “policy” more than they break theirs.

In the end, this is no different than the guy who sits down to a meal at a restaurant and at the end doesn’t have enough money to pay the bill.