It’s a scam that is as old as the automotive industry itself. To CARCHEX, rip offs from your repair shop are an all too common occurrence, even to this day. Specifically, let’s talk about the “additional work” scam. Don’t be fooled by the fact that dealerships have the backing of a major auto manufacturer—this rip off is just as likely to happen there, too.

Defining the “Extra Work” Scam

This method of fleecing customers amounts to any work done not related to the problem at hand and that is not necessary. There are occasional legitimate problems or potential issues that a mechanic may notice while fixing your vehicle, and that’s one thing. That is, as long as they tell you about the problem, what it can potentially do to your vehicle, and ask your permission to fix it.

Where it falls into the fraud category is if they do not consult you before fixing it, and if it is an unnecessary job. Some shops will get around having to ask you for these additional jobs by providing a statement of automatic approval of extra work in the preliminary paperwork. Never, under any circumstance, sign a document with this open door statement. You could be set up to be scammed, and it’s possible that neither your insurance nor your warranty provider may cover it.

Examples of Scams on You, Your Car Warranty or Insurance

Here are a few examples of ways that repair shops will try to rip you off:

  • Work not vaguely related to the problem. If you went in to replace a broken starter and they changed your oil or flushed your engine or transmission as well, you just got ripped off. If they tell you that a component has failed, make them show you that broken fan belt or burned out headlight.
  • The bait and switch scam. This is where they charge you the full price of a high-end part, but use a cheaper part. This may or may not amount to problems later, but the fact is that you paid more than you should have.
  • Charging for work not done. This is another common scam. The work claimed may even be related to your problem.

How You Can Protect Yourself

The first rule in protecting yourself from scams is to thoroughly read the paperwork before you sign anything. If you put your signature to something, that means that you accept what is written there. You will usually have no recourse when they steal your money at that point.

Secondly, if their diagnosis just does not sound right, you can always get a second opinion. You do not even have to take your car to a different shop—and it may not even be advisable.

Lastly, if you were not consulted at all and you got billed for extra work, talk to their supervisor. Inform them that you did not approve of this work. If they do not cooperate, contact the Better Business Bureau and your local District Attorney.

At CARCHEX, rip off exposure is part of our overall mission of improving the customer’s experience. We hold to the belief that no one should have to suffer at the receiving end of a scam, and the greatest power consumers have is knowledge.

Published in by site-admin on April 9, 2015