A reader: My car started making a noise. It only happened when I pressed on the brakes. I took it into an auto repair shop close to my home and they told me it was my front brakes and that they needed to be replaced. So, I had them do the repairs. The car was still making the same noise so I took it back. Then they told me it had to do with my transmission and it was going to cost another $1,200 on top of the $300 I already paid for the brakes.
I didn’t want to pay any more, so I took my car to another repair shop. The problem turned out to be my alternator which I had repaired. Now the noise is gone. I feel as if the brake job probably wasn’t needed. I went back and asked for my money back for the unnecessary repair. The first repair shop refuses to refund my money. What do I do?
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Action Line: I sympathize with you. There is no guarantee that you can get your money back, but you do have options. First, I hope you kept your estimate and receipts so you have proof of the repair. You should always give the company a chance to resolve the problem before you file a complaint. If you did not speak to someone in authority the first time, go back and ask to speak to the owner or manager. If they do not want to work with you, then go to bbb.org and file a complaint. You can also file a complaint with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) at 800-952-5210. BAR is the agency in the state of California that licenses and regulates auto repair companies.
For future reference, BBB always recommends that you check the business profile of a company on our website or by calling us to get background information that will help you make a wise buying decision. You can check to see how long they have been in business, if they have any complaints, check to see if they have any customer reviews posted, etc. You can normally find info on their BAR License as well.
Also, check with people you know and trust to see if they would recommend a repair shop. You can also use the BBB’s Request-A-Quote program. Go to bbb.org/ccie/quote. Within 24 hours, you should receive free estimates from auto repair shops in your area. This service is available for all industries and it’s free.
It’s always best if you have regular maintenance done on your vehicle. After you have selected a repair shop, you may want to try them out with a maintenance item like an oil change. Make sure the shop is neat and well organized. Are their policies clearly posted? Are the staff helpful? Do they guarantee their work? Answers to these questions will help you determine if this shop is right for you.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.