Got ripped off

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Got ripped off

Post by jmbreland » Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:39 pm

The parking brake and disc brakes on my recently bought Baja needed some attention so I took the Baja to a local muffler and brake shop.

Before I go any further, let me say that I'm not a gearhead, I'm just a regular guy with an infatuation for Bajas. I know enough about cars to be able to do a lot of the simple, basic repairs, but this decision to take the Baja to a local shop was made based on the fact that I suspect the parking brakes probably need more attention than a simple drum brake shoe change. At this point, I've already bought the disc brake pads to change myself so I figured I could bring them to the shop and have a mechanic there install them while the parking brake is inspected, hitting two birds with one stone so to speak.

After they took off the tires and looked at the brake calipers, a guy came to me and notified me that some caliper components are badly rusted and need replacing. He printed off an estimate of the repair. I glossed over it and looked at the dollar amount, which was just shy of $500. I made the mistake of assuming that this includes replacing all the calipers with brand new calipers, which I was fine with. I also assumed that the labor charge also includes inspecting the parking brake. After all's said and done, I found myself short of $500 and half of the front brake calipers replaced (new and old together) and the rear calipers not replaced and no inspection or work at all had been done on the parking brake. I went back in and asked why the parking brake was not fixed and the response was simply, "it's all badly rusted." He left it at that. I was so beside myself with the shock that I have been had that I could not continue confronting him and just left.

Now I'm reaching out to you guys in hopes that you may have some tips on how to recover from this, whether I have a way to go back to the shop and demand either a partial refund or to complete the work that I asked them to do without charging me any further. Or what other option is there?

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Re: Got ripped off

Post by greymud » Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:19 am

First, you should have discussed the quote when you got it. "Does this include complete new calipers and pads but not rotors?" type of discussion so both of you know what will and won't be done.

At this point, it's a matter of what was written on the quote and what was done. If the two don't match, they should make them match free of charge. I wasn't there, so it may have been bad communication, a ripoff, or something in the middle.
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Re: Got ripped off

Post by ZUBAJA » Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:01 am

jmbreland wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:39 pm
I took the Baja to a local muffler and brake shop.

Before I go any further, let me say that I'm not a gearhead, I'm just a regular guy with an infatuation for Bajas.

I made the mistake of assuming

I also assumed

the response was simply, "it's all badly rusted." He left it at that.

I could not continue confronting him and just left.

Now I'm reaching out to you guys in hopes that you may have some tips on how to recover from this
Only hope here is learn from your mistakes. "Muffler and brake shops" are most often rip off joints. Always try to get a recommendation BEFORE you take your car anywhere.
Look over ANY estimate and ask questions. Then ask MORE questions.
When work is done, go back over the work order - and ask any questions. NEVER ASSUME.
Sorry you had a bad experience. Bottom line: even with a 2006, the newest Baja is 16 years old. If you are going to drive an older car you need to learn as much as possible about it, it's maintenance needs, and maintenance history. If you don't plan on doing the work yourself, have plenty of money, and find a GOOD repair shop.
There is a book written some time back "What your auto mechanic doesn't want you to know" (or something like that, I will get exact title and author after I come home this afternoon). I suggest this book for any car owner and have bought and given copies to several people.
Yes, this is all too often a crooked business. Due diligence is necessary if you don't want to become a victim.
Do you use social media? Go ask the place to make it right, and if they don't at least offer something, put the word out. Dennis

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Re: Got ripped off

Post by kamesama980 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:52 am

Actually the parking brakes have less than normal drum brakes. think about it: normal drums have both the hydraulic operating parts and the parking cable parts. drum parking brake just has the parking brake parts.

There are honest mechanics out there, there are straight up crooks, and there are many in between. Sorry, I can't help much with differentiating them as I do my own work.

Nothing to add about the mech that hasn't been said: check the quote. if what they did matches what they said they'd do, you should have asked beforehand. If what they did doesn't match the quote, they should make it right. I've been on both sides and when I worked in a shop, I always tried to make sure the customer knew exactly what I thought was wrong and what I was planning on doing before starting work, and was always happy to walk the customer to their car on the lift and show them what I was talking about. Of course there were still a few that complained in spite of this but never had anyone have enough gumption to talk to the manager after I talked it through with them.

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Except that one time... some kids (18-24?) came in saturday night when the shop was dead with an eclipse lowered 3-4" that they wanted aligned. I said we don't align modded cars cause too often the adjusters don't go far enough and liability. They kept begging and I couldn't exactly claim I was busy since it was empty so I made a big disclaimer on the WO and had them initial the car was lowered and no warranty. Sure enough, not only did the adjusters have nowhere near enough adjustment, the bolts were siezed in the bushings. I called them over and showed them, said I didn't think it was worth my time/their cost without lots of parts, and asked them if they wanted me to leave it be, roll it off, and no charge. They said go for it. I did what I could (front was kinda doable, rear was terrible) and they took it to another store the next day to complain about my "screwing up the car" and demand a free alignment. That store called our store, I gave them the WO number to look up and told them what happened and they told the guys to pound sand.
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Re: Got ripped off

Post by jmbreland » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:28 pm

Thanks, guys. You can say I learned my lesson. I've spoken with some mechanics and realized I don't really have any leg-up in recovering from this but, going forward, I definitely will be much more careful. I also will be nagging you guys with repair questions to be sure that I get the best quality parts and that repairs are done properly.

I was fortunate to have such a trustworthy mechanic back in Jacksonville, FL, and that led me to leave my guard down. I'm still fairly new to this area in Norfolk, VA, so I would need to solicit recommendations for the best local mechanics. Anybody know of a good Subaru specialist in this area? Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, or Chesapeake?

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Re: Got ripped off

Post by Guacamole » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:53 pm

I can't recommend one the VA Beach area specifically (since I'm an Eastern Shore guy), but if you're willing to drive 120 miles North and cross the Bay Bridge Tunnel, Gateway Subaru in Delmar, MD has been great to my Baja, my neighbors, and family who all own other subies. They're expensive, but [sometimes] well worth the cost in my opinion.

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Re: Got ripped off

Post by harleyjohn45 » Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:50 pm

Jim, just don't go there again. You think you may have learned, but they will get you another way. I just bought a Baja in another state. When I got there it was cold and pouring rain. The vehicle looked like new, I had talked to the mechanic and the dealer had perfect reviews. I bought the vehicle and within 30 miles the check engine like came on. The turbo was gone, I decided to drive it as far as I could and if necessary get someone to haul it to my home. The vehicle rode and drove fine, but in limp mode. I made the 700 mile trip, now I'm getting everything fixed and done right. I'm lucky to have a nice shop and I have a mobile mechanic who is great and is reasonable. That way I will see what's done and we can discuss the way forward. I did give the Dealer negative feed back and actually called him and talked to him. The problem was the mechanic installed a Chinese knockoff turbo that cost 116.00. It was still under warranty and they gave me a new one, I looked up the supplier and their feed back was 61% negative. I will not be using this turbo. I have acquired an OEM takeoff turbo from a Scooby member. Even tho it's a takeoff, I have much more confidence in it. Good luck with your Baja.

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