Worst experience at a shop?

Feb 27, 2018
What's the worst experience you've ever had at a shop? I'll go first.

When I had my Honda CR-V, the A/C compressor went out on me so I started calling up some local shops for a quote to replace it. One place, which I will not name, had a coupon in the local newspaper so I figured I'd give them a chance. WORST MISTAKE I EVER MADE!

If you don't want to read further, long story short, they quoted me something stupid, like $2100 IIRC to replace the A/C compressor. I asked them if they could use a reman compressor to cut the price down a little and the guy told me "I don't think they make reman compressors." In the end, I got it done, with brand new parts, at the shop across the street for $600.

The biggest mistake I made was believing them on their "complimentary" multi-point inspection. They asked me if I would want a complimentary multi-point inspection done while they had my car and I said okay. I ended up having to pay $164 for their "inspection".

The inspection is what really ticked me off and here are a couple things from it that I remember to this day.

1) They told me my exhaust was loud, broken and needed replaced.
It was super obvious if you looked at my car, it had a Cherry Bomb on it (16 y/o me was stupid), everything was properly welded, and it was supposed to sound how it did.

2) They told me that I needed new transmission fluid and coolant.
I changed both myself not even 3,000 miles prior

In addition to that, they had pulled my spark plugs to "inspect" them, and they were put back in barely finger tight.
They "checked" my air filter and didn't even put the airbox lid back on, and I didn't notice until it started throwing codes after I drove off and pulled over to check it out.

I left a negative review on Google, and included pictures that they had given me and my proof that it was all wrong, and the guy ended up calling me to "have a little chit-chat" and try bullying me into leaving a good review.

I had talked to an old coworker of mine and they charged her over $1,000 to replace a fuel filler neck on her 96 Civic!
Nothing myself but I worked at one dealership many years ago that was crooked as a corkscrew. They sold a used car with a bad rod knock and a sealed up head gasket to a deaf guy, they justified this saying they gave him a extended warranty when I told the they were crooked bast... and quit.
The fact they were all sitting around laughing about how they pulled this off disgusted me.
My worst experience was with a major Ford dealership in a western Canadian city.

Someone ran into the front fender on my almost new '78 Ford Fiesta. Because the front wheel was damaged I was concerned about future power train issues and potential warranty problems so I took it to the auto-body shop at the local Ford dealership where I had bought the car. It was my first new car.

They replaced the wheel and the front fender. When I picked it up I noticed that they hadn't gotten the fender on quite straight, forgot to replace the rubber support for the hood so it (the hood) didn't fit properly, and forgot to put chip guard on the lower part of that new front fender.

A few weeks later when I went to change the oil, while removing the too tight oil filter, I leaned against the just replaced fender and it dented. I checked the inside of the fender and found it was missing the undercoat found on the original fender on the other side. So I took it back to the body shop and their first offer was to leave it dented but to undercoat the inside. I insisted they take the dent out too.

They did but only repainted the repaired area and left that with an orange peel finish. Not only that, but the radio aerial had been broken off and was propped up so it looked like it was okay.

So I insisted they replace the broken aerial too. The shop foreman did it himself as I waited. But in his haste he tore the under dash padding as he removed it. And no matter what I did, that padding would not stay up for any length of time.

When I was leaving I complained about the long list of problems. The shop foreman said (and I quote) "What do you expect. You buy a cheap car and then say we do a bad job." I listed all the problems and then said, "And the first person to say the words "bad job" was you."

I didn't keep that car very long because the plastic parts breaking off got really annoying (door handles, window cranks, heater controls, even the radio knobs). And no matter where I parked it something bad happened to it (someone shot the rear lift-back door, someone sat on the hood and dented it, the end of the front bumper was torn off by someone driving too close, and on and on.)

That car was cursed. And it's the last Ford I've ever owned.
The recent work I had done at a recommended shop in Santa Cruz on my niece's 2015 Odyssey. The alternator died due to an oil leak from the spool valve. I saw the oil and figured it was a valve cover gasket. They checked it out and agreed the valve cover gaskets were leaking badly. As @The Critic pointed out, they did not know much about V6 Honda engines, as the spool valve sandwich gaskets are a common issue which leads to alternator failure. They charged $450 for the rebuilt alternator among other high costs. Anyways, I feel pretty bad about the service provided. Since the oil leak persisted, per Michael's advice I replaced the spool valve and problem solved.
What's a poor boy to do?
I quit going to a certain tire chain shop years ago when I went in for a rotate and balance. Pickup up the car ('99 Taurus 24v) and the service guy said 'we checked your cabin air filter and it was ok'- I replaced it a month before. Got home, opened the hood as it was time to check the oil and whoever worked on the car left all the plastic parts for the cabin filter lying on the intake manifold (you have to remove part of the cowl to get the CAF). I was beyond upset.
First time I took my 2008 CR-V to get new tires. I believe TPMS was still a relatively new thing at the time. Get the quote for tires, they write it up and include $8 per tire for new valve stems. Hold on there, professor, they don't use the old style rubber valve stems anymore, they are metal and they are part of the TPMS sensor. They insist it's a standard charge and they can't change it. Okay, so replace the valve cores, since those are replaceable. Okay, they'll replace the valve cores in lieu of the valve stems.

When I came for the appointment, I took the precaution of dabbing a paint mark on each of the valve cores. Sure enough, I get it back after being charged $32 for new valve stems (or cores), they all still have my paint marks on them. Go back to counter, ask if they changed the valve cores. He goes and talks to his tech, tech shrugs, he comes back out, says they didn't. I let him know I already knew that from the paint marks I put on. He offers me a free oil change. Well now, I don't really trust you now, and I don't want an oil change, you either need to change the valve cores or refund those ersatz valve stem fees. Finally got him to refund the $32.

I commented about that incident on their feedback card, and got a call from their district manager a little later, and he went on and on about how they have "extensive training" on the TPMS systems. Well, if you have "extensive training" on the TPMS systems, why are you tacking on valve stem fees if they don't exist? Well, we'll look into that. Then he went on to say the valve cores I asked for cost more than the standard valve stem fees, to which I reply that maybe they should have told me that.

To add insult to injury, the first time I went to rotate these new tires, I found they had torqued them on so tightly I couldn't budge them even with my 4-way lug wrench that gives lots of leverage. I was so mad, I was all set to drive back to their shop, and demand they use the stubby lug wrench that came with the car to loosen the lug nuts, since I would certainly have been stuck on the side of the road if I'd had a flat. Ended up having to use the air impact to break them loose. Now I always check the lug nuts whenever the tire monkeys touch them.
I don’t really have any myself as I don’t let others work on my car but my dad when I was a kid before I started doing stuff took our 2001 Jeep Cherokee to JL for an oil change and of course they check the filters and everything. Well he declined the air filter so the air box got left off and was flapping against the hood my dad turned around and went back. The manager called him a liar and said he done it. Finally my dad got them to secure it back down and put the filter back in after a argument. Never went back after that. Other than that he has not had many issues as he did work on stuff a lot himself. Also we have issues with every time he would purchase tires from Sam’s Club they would cross thread at least one or two studs and I’d break them off doing work to it. I don’t know if it’s because they drove them down with impacts or because they had so much anti seize on there that they could not tell if it was threading straight or not. We wanted them to fix the studs they said oh we can’t even pull the car into the shop if the studs are broken. We are like well it’s your fault they are broken they said sorry nothing we can do for you.

I know it’s nothing major fortunately but still annoying at the time lol.
Back in 2001 I bought a Honda Civic EX new from Tempe Honda...start of a 4 year nightmare of blown engines and auto trans and just about anything else that could co wring with a car......I sold off the POS at 72k miles and in 2010 got a check for 3100 from Honda Still I had lost about 3k but got some. I bought a 06 Toyota highlander next......night and day .....the AC did go out at the 6 year mark on it though.
Back in 1991 I bought a demo 90 Camry with 4k miles full factory everthing....about 2k cheaper than a new 91....that was the best car i have ever owned 180k miles ....zero problems...I was hit and the car was totaled in 2002......I still cry when i think about it... I could see us making 1 million miles etc. plus no payments and cheap ins.
I do most of my own work. I bought a new f350 superduty and the slave clutch failed. Took 5 tries to get the clutch correct. Last time i came back the shop kids were abusing the hell out of my clutch trying to teach some idiot how to drive a clutch. Never will buy another ford ever
A shop that hired an Audi "master technician" forgot to tighten 1 bolt, which came loose, causing the engine to rock back and forth, so the flex pipe failed and the exhaust gas melted the power steering harness..... shop refused to take responsibility for it... so I used the power of the internet to share my story and shame the shop.
I turned my back on one of my fellow mechanics to walk away after we had a "disagreement". He chucked a brake rotor at me and barely missed. Scared the heck out of me. Pretty bad experience but could have been worse I guess. Another time I replaced a Jetta engine with a used unit. Started up and cracked a piston, the junkyard had pulled the injectors and dropped a 6mm nut into the hole. That sucked too.
A shop tried to tell my wife she needed tons of unnecessary repairs to her car after they performed a "courtesy checklist" on her car. She called me crying and sobbing because they convinced her that tons of money was needed to make her car even safe to drive home. She went there because her tire went flat 300 feet down the road. I think it was a xxxx store. They told her, her front rotors and pads were bad, her brake fluid was contaminated with water (showing her a sample of the fluid with water in it), her struts were shot, she needed an air filter and a cabin air filter, wipers, and a new flex pipe on her exhaust. She also apparently needed a trans service because it was about to fail, and needed a coolant flush because her car showed signs that it was overheating. They removed her inspection sticker (like 3 months left, I took it for its last inspection) and absolutely insisted that she couldn't drive the car in that condition, and that all repairs were needed for re-inspection of vehicle. Repairs totalled around $2700 dollars.
She called her dad first (she was 22) and called me second. Her dad went nuts on her screaming about the possibility of having to let her borrow money, that did not help her mental state at all. Working full time, going to college, doing the right thing in life. I wound up marrying her..
I asked her to have the rep call me and explain it all to me, he wouldn't do it over the phone, he said it was better reading it all myself so I could "comprehend" what I was being told.
I was the one who told her what to do when her tire went soft, I told her to just go into the shop and ask them if they could plug the tire (if it could be plugged). She said yes to a courtesy inspection when asked, because it was free.
I made a huge mistake that day with advising her to just go there and get the tire repaired. I did not warn her about courtesy inspections, or the tactics they use to scare people into spending tons of money on unnecessary repairs.
I went to the shop from school and met her. She made me promise, promise, promise not to get in a fight with the guy, like I had to super promise her and she would hold me to it like she always did.
I went in and respectfully asked for the estimate and acted stupid and confused. He went through the song and dance with me and showed me the contaminated brake fluid sample, the little vial had so much water in it, based on that sample at least half the fluid in the car should have been water. I just got the prices itemized and he gave me the safety lecture and told me that had to void (scrape) her inspection sticker.
He was good, he made it seem like we would be arrested for attempting to drive the car off the site, and we could kill ourselves or someone else if we did, said we could be arrested for driving it without an inspection, etc... I just let him keep going and going. I wanted to punch that weaselly dude right in the face, he looked like the shadiest used car salesman in the world, gold chains and chest hairs, etc..
I walked out with the itemized quote in my hand and talked to her in my car. She just wanted her tire fixed, and an inspection sticker, that's it, that's all, and above all she wanted me to not make a huge scene and get the cops called on me and wind up arrested for shoving his scamming teeth right down his throat.
I went back in and told him we want the tire plugged, (which was the one thing not on the quote) and an inspection sticker. He looked at me like I was speaking an alien language, and I could see him starting to get pissed.. I repeated myself again, and started to lay out the facts to him, his face turned white when I told him I was a mechanic, like I saw it drain from the top down. I said the first thing is the brakes were replaced with Honda pads and rotors about 10k miles ago, I know, I did it. (this was a 96 accord and you had to press the rotors on the hubs). He said wait a minute, and he walked out into the shop and talked to a mech for a few mins and he came back in and tried to bs me again. He said the mechanic made a mistake, it was another car that needed new brakes and rotors, said he would have caught it when we paid the bill, apologized, etc.. HE started in on me about the brake fluid, I told him ********, ********, ********.. He removed most of the ******** crap, and gave me a new total to get the car to pass inspection. I was so good man, I didn't get aggressive or anything, I really had to try to stay cool.
He said at a minimum I needed the struts (front) replaced and the flex pipe replaced and gave me some god awful total. Then I lost it and screamed at him "what about the god ****ed tire ******e?"
Things went sideways. I went through the scraping of the sticker, the flex pipe (I just saw it when I did the brakes, it was a slight tiny bit frayed on the outer weaved wire area, it was absolutely as expected for a car with 185k miles on the part, exhaust was still super quiet as new), the struts needing to be replaced for inspection. I got angry, gave him some nice fuc you's, and told him exactly what he was, a scum sucking piece of garbage they made people pay for non needed repairs by scaring and intimidating them. He got angry, told me to **** off and tossed me the keys. I refused to leave the office area and when a woman walked in, I quickly informed her not to bring her car there because they just scammed my wife, he flipped out and called the Sheriffs. I just kept on telling him, plug the tire, replace the sticker you not only fraudulently scraped, but you have no right at all to remove the sticker from the car, at all. Sheriff showed up, listened to him and myself and told me I was **** out of luck, gotta take the keys and go. Said if I had any serious business complaints I should contact the DOT, DMV or the Attorney Generals Office about it. Said if I don't leave, or if I ever come back I would be arrested for trespassing, he was ashamed that he had to do it, but he had to do his job. I get it. I told him the entire story again, and he listened, said he could understand my anger and frustration and just said go down the road a bit to the next shop, get the tire plugged which would have been completely appropriate if they didn't scrape the sticker.. He asked if the car would pass inspection, yes no problem. Advised me to pay the fee for new inspection and tire plug, and just tell everyone you know about the shop, and make sure they tell others.. I relented and started to walk away.. Then a second Sheriff pulled in the lot to converse with the first. I knew him, he was a Sergeant that deal with a lot when arresting shoplifters. First one explained to Sgt what was up, he listened to my story, and told me to wait a couple mins. He made a show of interviewing my GF in front of the window to the office, and then called me over to talk to both of us.
He told me he was going in and making the guy pay for our new inspection by telling him what he did was illegal and punishable through the DOT regulations and that he could be charged and the shop could lose its inspection license for a year.. He walked back to his car and dug out a DOT regulation book that had some usage wear on it. He came back over, pointed to a few things in the book, and went in and told the guy he was committing fraud, and although he couldn't arrest him for it right now, he could at least get the shops inspection license suspended while he was being investigated by the DMV for inspection violations and vehicle fraud. He came out and says watch this. Guy came out and put a sticker on the window, huffed, and went back into the office... Loved that Sgt., he was so friggin helpful over the years in my town, just a good guy and excellent natural judge of character.
Went a quarter mile down the road to the next shop and asked for a tire plug. Guy smirked and told me I was just up the road with the cops right? I said yeah, and he said "yeah the shop just called me and warned me I was trying to get out of repairs, and to not plug my tire at all, say its needs to be replaced." Yeah, he then told me a few real quick stories about that shop, and said I definitely did the right thing and said he'd have been much worse to them if they pulled that on his daughter or wife.
Tire plugged 15 mins later, no charge.

I told everyone in my family, every friend, every family member of friends, people at work, people in school with me, and my professors never to go to xxxxx, gave them a 10 second story about the fraud.. They all seemed to appreciate and take note of my warning.
That particular shop, I am confident it was xxxx had to change its phone number a few months after that. I heard that people were calling and asking tons of stupid questions about their cars, making this or that noise, heard it made their life difficult enough to change the stores phone number.

I still tell people if they ask for a mechanic recommendation, to stay away from that chain, and give them a 5 second summary of what they did. Then I tell them about my local garage who is the best mechanic I have ever met, honest to a fault resulting in loss of work, and is the only person I will farm out work to with my autos. Solid dude.
Yeah, 2 red bulls in two hours, and my still simmering contempt for that arsehole led me to post that novel. To this day I still can't comprehend the level of dishonesty that guy exhibited, and he wasn't even any good at it either. I hope he rots in hell, I'm sure he destroyed a few lives with his bogus quotes and repairs. Like the single mom trying to get her brakes fixed, the daughters exploited, and the seniors duped into wasting money for unneeded repairs.
This is not MY video, but I AM in a position where I am getting an alignment "soon" and I believe one shop was more straight with me than another one.. also may cost $27 less for the alignment.

They probably closed for the day but if they can get me in next week. Toe to 0.00" I'll go to them. "Toe and go."

This guy outlines the scam.

The video is about how they would check the alignment using the machine wrong so it says the car needs to be aligned, though it actually doesn't. Basically it's the old "short stick" scam to sell oil (though no oil was actually put in the car of course) at full service gas stations.

That's not going to happen to you, as your car really does need to be aligned. It's clear that your tires are getting rapidly chewed up. Go to a place that has a real alignment machine and someone who knows how to use it, not some yahoo who claims he can do it with a piece of string.