Auto repair shops top the list every year for fraud complaints and other consumer complaint lists. Although there are some reputable repair shops, buyers beware! Often, it is matter of manipulation on the part of the repair shop employee or technician. They will try to scare people into having unnecessary repairs done. Another big problem is shops who claim to have done repairs, when actually nothing was done. Customers are charged for parts, when no parts were installed; bogus charges for labor, and more. These acts can be hard to prove, since many of us do not actually go and check every new part they claimed to have installed. No one is there to actually see them even working on the car at all, in most instances.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that customers are scammed out of tens of billions of dollars a year by ruthless car repair shop owners. There is no State in the United States that does not have numerous complaints about auto repair, which includes Hawaii and Alaska. Repair shops have been caught on camera and in the act more than once, yet the problems continue. In many instances, fraud is brought to light by whistle-blowers from the auto repair industry themselves. Consumers are left wondering what they can do to avoid repair rip offs, and there is no easy answer. Even well known, well established repair shops are not immune to shady employees, or change of management which may increase the incidences of fraudulent repairs.
There are consumer advocate groups which try to bring attention to the problem, and bring to light those establishments which have been proven to bilk money from customers. A good idea when having your car repaired is to get an estimate and insist that you be contacted should anything change as far as repairs needed. When you do get the bill, especially if it is not even close to the estimate compare charges. Don’t accept lame excuses for unapproved repairs. If you emphasized that you wanted to be contacted before any repairs other than the estimate were done, they should have called. You may have a legal claim if they do not.
If you take your car in for a simple oil change, and suddenly the mechanic approaches you with a list of things that need done on your car, beware! It is possible he could have spotted something, but to have come up with a list of things would be cause for suspicion. If this does happen, thank them, and then take your car somewhere else for another opinion. See if the second opinion matches up with the first unsolicited findings.
While it may be a rough task to put an end to consumer fraud in the area of car repair, there are ways you can fight back. The more that is done to combat and expose the unscrupulous mechanics, the more they will think twice before trying to cheat anyone.