A simple request for a $26.99 oil change ended up costing 94-year-old Helen Turner over $800 when she handed the keys to her 2004 Subaru Impreza over to an employee at a local Midas shop in Farmington, Connecticut.
Aside from the $26.99 oil change, Midas charged $297.24 to replace four spark plugs ($63.13 each in labor costs) and $398.02 ($263.03 for labor) to replace the valve cover gasket. The extra repairs, minus a $50 discount coupon for the repairs, cost $725.25.
Turner, who says she felt fearful and intimidated, agreed only to the work the Midas representative told her was essential.
‘He came out and said I need it done,” she says. “I’m 94 years old. I figured, ‘Gee, I need a car. I better get it fixed.’ Then he said there’s a lot more that needs to be done on it, bring it back next week. I told him I’m not going to bring it back right away. I was afraid of the guy because if I argued with him he’d take the car and make it worse.”
Turner eventually questioned whether the work was even done. Though the itemized bill, obtained by The Bottom Line, indicated Turner was at Midas for 2 hours, 9 minutes, she says her car was worked on only a fraction of that time.
“After he changed the oil,” she says, “he came in to me and said, ‘Well, we’re going to start on the other job now. It’s going to take 2 1/2 hours. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have to sit here for 2 1/2 hours.’ And he came back in 20 minutes and said, ‘It’s all done.’ I said, ‘I thought you said 2 1/2 hours. He just smiled and put the keys on the counter.” Hartford Courant, 22 Dec 2012.
Thanks to a friend and the Hartford Courant, Tuner was able to get the bill reduced to a mere $400, but she still isn’t a happy customer.
Moral of the story?
For customers, find a trusted mechanic, check your bill carefully, and if in doubt, say no and wait for the service as long as the delayed repair won’t damage your car or risk your life. We recommend our own CarHelp.com referral service for the best rated mechanics in your area.
For mechanics, treat your customers as if they were your own 94-year-old grandmother. Don’t upsell them, make sure they’re aware of the cost before you do the service, and hire a great reputation management company for car dealerships and mechanics, like *ahem* CarHelp.com.
Image: Stock Photo via Hartford Courant