The Big Mac Blog

When it comes to a mechanic, we assume the worst for a reason

A trip to an auto repairman to fix an AC on a 2004 Honda Accord led to an estimate of $1,950 - an awful gouge.
A trip to an auto repairman to fix an AC on a 2004 Honda Accord led to an estimate of $1,950 - an awful gouge.

In the endless pursuit of happiness finding the right partner is usually at the top of the list, but a trust worthy auto mechanic who does not completely gouge and screw you is actually more important.

Take for example this latest horror story from Tales from Awful Customer Repairmen; the following is a reminder always be skeptical of every repair person, lawyer, doctor and customer service rep’ looking to take your money. Kids, either always get a second opinion, and always find someone who comes recommended from a friend.

In our consumer-based economy, we simply shove our hands in everybody else’s pocket trying to grab as much as we can, because someone is doing to us.

My spouse recently took my Honda Accord to have the air conditioner repaired at a large chain that rhymes with Rational Fire & Pattery. After charging $100 to misdiagnose the car, the mechanic returned with an estimate that read the AC was busted, and required a new unit. The cost was just over $1,950.

The estimate looked legitimate - there was grease on it, and the paper was crinkled. He must have worked very hard at this.

Was this mechanic doing the stereotypical thing of trying to capitalize on a female customer, who ostensibly would not know and just pay it? Or was the mechanic doing the stereotypical thing of simply assuming all car customers are idiots and we’ll pay it?

Rather than immediately pay it, I took the car to a mechanic friend with one intention - was the car worth keeping? He looked at the estimate, and the problem, and concluded: “One hundred percent, straight (bleep) job,” he said.

The friend found the problem was not even covered in the estimate; to repair the actual issue cost $425, a difference of more than $1,500.

Not only was the mechanic at the national chain trying sell something to me I did not need, he did not correctly diagnose two problems. He was a liar, or he was ignorant. Or both.

As the friend explained to me, mechanics at most places are incentivized to screw clients; their salaries are often commission based - to lie to naive or trusting customers is to line their own pockets. How fun.

This friend, whom I have requested to the Vatican for immediate sainthood, fixed the problem - which allowed me to return to the auto repair shop with my tale of woe. The manager was polite, apologetic, and had no explanation to my paternal tone of, “I’m just so disappointed.”

Actually, I wasn’t, but telling a person you are disappointed in them is always more fulfilling.

Of course, when it comes to a mechanic, most of us are usually disappointed for a reason.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @macengelprof