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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long post, sorry.

Two months ago I took my '02 Vulcan SES to an independent mechanic, "Rick," because the rear coil springs were broken. The only symptom was saggy ass.

The day before I brought the car in, I called Rick and asked him on the phone how much coil springs would cost. He said he wouldn't know until he looked at it. I dropped off the car that night after hours.

The next day I heard from Rick when he called me to tell me he had commenced work--without informing me of the estimated cost first--and he had sheared off a pinch bolt, that the car was no longer driveable until it got fixed because the bolt head was gone, and that I might need a whole new spindle because they were unable to drill out the hardened bolt. The next time they called me back when the whole job was done and said they were actually able to drill out the bolt but they charged me an extra hour of labor for it. Total cost on the rear springs plus two new pinch bolts with tax was $501.

As soon as I drove the car out of the shop, there was a thumping noise coming from the rear suspension whenever I hit bumps. I didn't have time to bring it back at the moment, and we needed the car to drive anyway.

So today I brought the car back in. Rick tells me I have a bad shock (it's not "broken" or "unsafe" but it "has a 'hitch' to it") and it will cost $160 each to replace them, including labor, if I would like.

a ) Rick insists it's coincidence that the shock went bad in his shop. In truth, I can't prove otherwise, and maybe he's right.

b ) It's at least borderline illegal in Ohio that I asked how much the spring job would cost and that he didn't give me an estimate before commencing work. I also cannot prove this, but I can file a complaint.

c ) I'm not happy for being charged an hour of labor for them to figure out how to drill out a hard bolt that they sheared off. It doesn't seem to me that a shop that claims to have done this job on Tauruses hundreds of times should need an hour to drill out a bolt. I also had a tire & suspension place claim yesterday they wouldn't have charged me for that if I'd had them do the job.

d ) Rick says that due to my complaint he's willing to replace the one of the strut assemblies for the only cost of the part, about $80. I told him replacing one is unsafe and I'd be willing to have him replace both for the cost of two parts, but he says he will only replace one for the part cost and will charge the full part + labor for the other side. He says he believes that replacing only one side is safe; I told him a Ford dealership would call that an unsafe practice (I've sinced called two Ford dealerships and they've agreed), and he says that's their opinion.

The alternative I'm considering is doing the strut assemblies myself; everything should come apart reasonably well because the shop just had it all apart 2 months ago. However, I've never done suspension work and I'd need to deal with compressing the springs, which I'm a little apprehensive about.

Needless to say I won't be going back to this shop once this is taken care of. But what should I do? How should I handle the mechanic?
 

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Wow. I'd call the bbb. Seriously, that guys an *******. I've done plenty of sets of springs on these cars and have learned to heat up these bolts to not break them. Even if the bolts do break, no, I wouldn't charge extra time for it. Reason being;

Book time to replace both rear springs/struts; 3.5 hours.
Time it actually takes (me anyway) ; <2.3 hours.
Time it may take to drill out broken bolt; .5 hour.

Actual time is still less than 3 hours, he comes out on top more than half hour.

Coincidence it went bad at that time? No friggin way. The struts are eight years old, and who knows exactly how long they were supporting all that extra weight with broken springs. He should have recommended new struts (and mounts, they're rubber, they go bad too).


It's illegal in any state to not have a repair order signed with the estimate, or the exact time of phone call approval, some shops even record the call. BUT, you already paid and probably signed something when you took the car, so you'll lose that fight.

So basically, you're screwed. He screwed you and there's nothing you can do about it except complain.

If you are uncomfortable doing it yourself, start a relationship with a different shop. Tell them what happened and they may help you financially just to keep you around. Don't go to one of those chains, they don't care about your feelings.

If you want to try it yourself, great. Get a couple monroe sensatracs and strut mounts, and we will help you here.
 

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Yeah, get Monroe Quickstruts, preassembled strut assemblies. Replacing all 4 corners would cost about $550 more or less. Join a TCCA Chapter and ask someone to help you fix the issue. I often have WC Chapter members help me just to save the labor cost at a shop. Maybe make a maintenance meet.

p.s. That's messed up he did the job without informing you of the price. I'd be infuriated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
goodbrosUIT: Are you a mechanic? If so, I'd be quite comfortable relaying what you said as "from a professional." I'm going back in ~2 hours to get my car.

It's not "under the table." I have an invoice. It's for rear springs & 2 pinch bolts & labor. I have a copy and I don't recall signing but I probably did.

Yes I've already paid for the springs. So I'm not nitpicking about the past, I'm trying to get him to use me right considering the BS he's put me through.

They already put the new rear springs on the car, so I'm $500 in on that so I will probably go ahead and use them. When I picked up the car the other mechnic that works there said he thought they were Monroe but frankly he seemed high and didn't know for sure. Seriously, F this place.

So I'm thinking about tackling this myself. They've already had it apart so it should come back apart no problem, plus I'll get the experience and, worst case, I'll have to take it to someone else anyway. I can also get the OE mounts online for cheaper than his aftermarket crap.

Thanks guys. I'm going to mention the book time issue when I get the car back for the weekend. If he doesn't take care of this I will be clear with him that I'm driving away and I'm going to file a complaint.

Regarding doing the actual repair: I found a compressor tool that looks great for ~$40. Do I need strut assemblies or mounts or both? And do you recommend I go for the Motorcraft stuff or is Monroe fine? Fyi the car has 90K on it and probably isn't worth $3,000. I just put $450 in tires on it yesterday... yikes. :)
 

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You can get a spring compressor for Autozone, I believe. You rent it, but they give you your money back. If you already replaced the coils, all you need is the struts. You can use Monroe Senstracs. Look at your mounts and see if there are any wears, tears or cracks. If you see them, you need to replace them.

While doing that, you may want to examine other suspension components; i.e. end links. The rubber boot sometimes breaks and leaks grease.
 

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:( Yay, we all get 'roasted' sometimes! My local Stealership is good on some "work" and stinks on others. Parts prices do not vary a lot, but labor rates totally suck! The way they set labor is by the 'Book' meaning always in favor of a slow mechanic. Dealerships totally suck on parts and labor. However , you will be lucky if you find anyone who will charge you less for a specific job! Welcome to year 2010 and you will be F****** continually by repair shops! But on the other side of it, you bust your ass to make a profit, I know it is dificult to survive in small business, I bet those small places worry everyday that you will not pay their survival rates! Boo Hoo says the Customer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The guy at the tire & suspension place guessed that it was the mounts but I guess we'll see (they useQuickStruts so I guess they don't really care what the exact problem is). I suppose the worst case is I have to put it all back together as-is if I run into trouble. Oh, how it would be nice to have a spare car sometimes!

I'll probably come back for an opinion from you guys after I give the mechanic hell tonight. I found it in the Ohio state code several places where he clearly broke the law, and I will be handing him a highlighted copy before I leave. Is this worth a police report or just the BBB? I mean, I have no idea how many other people he might be screwing over.

I'll probably buy the compressor because I like buying tools with money saved. ;)

The swaybar seems to be solid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
QUOTE (toronut @ Jun 4 2010, 02:25 PM) index.php?act=findpost&pid=809331
:( Yay, we all get 'roasted' sometimes! My local Stealership is good on some "work" and stinks on others. Parts prices do not vary a lot, but labor rates totally suck! The way they set labor is by the 'Book' meaning always in favor of a slow mechanic. Dealerships totally suck on parts and labor. However , you will be lucky if you find anyone who will charge you less for a specific job! Welcome to year 2010 and you will be F****** continually by repair shops! But on the other side of it, you bust your ass to make a profit, I know it is dificult to survive in small business, I bet those small places worry everyday that you will not pay their survival rates! Boo Hoo says the Customer.[/b]
Oh yes, the guy gave me some business on the phone about how he's trying to make a living and he's not going to give away free parts blah blah blah. Well no ****, I have a wife and a kid, it's not like I am making a living either right...
 

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I worked at a Ford dealer as a tech for over a year and a Lincoln/Mercury dealer for 2 years.

The police won't do anything for you. The BBB and the atorney general take care of this kind of stuff. The copy of the workorder should be a reciept and should have your signature on it. You can call your ag's office and tell them you never approved the work, you never even knew how much anything would cost, but he did it anyway and you paid just because you needed your car back. You may get your money back.

I'd just replace the mounts along with the struts even if you don't see anything wrong with them. They're old, they wear. That would suck to do the work and then the mounts make noise six months later.

If you have the other place do it and they use quick struts, get the old springs back, maybe someone here will buy them from you. Or good luck getting your money back returning them to the first "mechanic".
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Heh, well, I got a decent story out of this after all...

I drove back to the shop tonight with my wife and son to drop me off, and on the way in I see the ******* has my car parked way down the road from the shop, unlocked. I've never seen a car there before so I'm guessing this is my "punishment" for sassing him.

I go in, pick up the key, test drive the car to make sure it's no different.

Then the fun begins.

I drive back to the shop and tell the owner I'd like to talk with him for a minute and "give him some perspective." I ask where the $330 labor charge for the springs came from. Sure as hell, just like goodbrosUIT says, he tells me it's a 3.4 hour job @ $75 / hr plus 1.0 hr for the bolt. I told him I talked to two mechanics who both told me they would have absorbed the bolt drilling charge. The owner says, "Well that's not how it works at MY shop. And it took us MORE than an hour to drill that bolt out!" And I go, "Well, I talked to TWO guys who told me the same thing, we can call them if you want." He says something like, "Well I'll be damned if I don't know my competition better than that after 12 years in this business."

So, I'm like, "So I'd say that hour of labor is worth $75. Then there's this..." I hand him the papers... "Here's some information for you from the Ohio Revised Code about estimates." I had printed out the laws around car repairs and estimates and highlighted about five different ways he broke the law in this transaction. He takes the law printouts, looks at them, and literally throws them back at me and they land on the floor, and he says, angrily, "If I give you your money back, will THAT make you happy?!" I'm taken aback, not expecting this, and I say, "Yeah, that'd be great." So he goes about processing a refund for me for all but the sales tax ($40), making copies of the sales order with "REFUND" written on them, and writing me a check for $469. He's grumbling the whole time about how I'm the second person in 12 years he's given a refund to, and everyone else is thrilled with the work he does. I told him, "I'm not asking for a full refund, I'm just asking you to use me right to repair the problem," so I gave him a fair opportunity to back down and just pay for the labor on installing new struts (I'd already offered to pay for the parts). Well, he says it's worth the full refund to never have to hear from me again because he's wasted more time talking to me than the job is worth, blah blah blah. Personally, I think he was just shitting his pants when he realized I wasn't going to take his crap and the garbage he pulled with the estimate & pricing was not cool.

He starts telling me I should have been back there within the second day of hearing the thump, and I said I thought maybe it was settling and I'm no mechanic so I don't know what every new noise means. I asked him what difference it makes if I come back 2 days or 2 months later, and he goes, "Well we would have stood a better chance of taking care of this." I say, "Why does it matter if it's now or 6 weeks ago? You warrantied the repair for a year." He says something about how his books had the repairs wrapped up two months ago or something, which I kind of take to mean he's already spent the money he's about to refund me.

So, f-uck him. I got my money back, assuming his check clears. And I think the $40 in sales tax was well worth having them take everything apart so now I can get it apart easily. Plus I got two springs to either sell or to put with my new struts.

So... anyone want to buy some new rear coil springs? ;)

Thanks all for your help. It paid off!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well just thought I'd update. I deposited the check 7 days ago, and the funds have been available in my account for ~3 business days. Nothing taken back, no calls from the bank. I think this looks solid. :thumb:

So... tonight after work I'm jacking up the car and PB-Blaster-izing everything to do the rear struts tomorrow morning. Parts are all here. I <3 Rock Auto and Amazon.
 
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