Is this legal?? Damn those rip off mechanics! - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Is this legal?? Damn those rip off mechanics!

This topic is about my experience with a rip off mechanic. The name of the business is Automeister II, owned by Ernest Schmidt in Issaquah, WA.
Here is address of business:
Automeister II
1480 19th Ave
Issaquah, WA 98027

I brought my car to Automeister II in Issaquah, WA to fix. I drive a Mercedes Benz 1991 190e 2.3L.

First time I went there, Ernest Schmidt replaced the alternator and charged me a total of $485 (parts & labor). I drove home that same day and my car still had the same charging problem. I called him and he told me to bring the car back to his shop so I did and I left.

The next day I called him and he said that he needs more time so I said I would call him the tomorrow.

The next day, I called him and he said that he still hasn't fixed it.

He didn't work on Saturdays and Sundays so I left my car at his shop over the weekend.

On Monday, I called him and he said he had not fixed it yet. I went to the shop and he said that he is giving up and not going to fix it anymore "to cut his losses." He said that he refunded me for the alternator and used that money to fund his labor costs.

This is bullshit because he did not fix my car yet he wants to keep $200 dollars for his labor. Since when did mechanics get paid when they dont fix the car? He became frustrated and called the 190e "a piece of shit car" and blamed the car for stumping him and not being able to fix it. He insisted that he should be paid for his half-assed job. Now I am paying him for $200 dollars worth of "labor". This labor I am talking about is poking around and looking at the car, which is what he calls a diagnoses.

Is this fair and legal? He did not fix my car! Now he will only give me $285 dollars back when I paid him $485!! He's taking $200 for doing nothing with my car! I basically paid to park my car in his shop for 5 days now he's charging me $200! (Actually, refusing to pay me the rest of the money). I took the check he handed me incase I cannot get any other money from him. However I will not cash it until this is resolved.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 12:04 AM
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If there is no language on the check he gave you (like "full satisfaction" or "full refund" or "our agreement" etc.) then go ahead and cash it, noting above your endorsement "negotiation does not resolve dispute, payee still owed $200". Make a copy before you deposit it.

Then file a small-claims lawsuit against him. If he shows up, tell the judge your side, and if it's as you say my guess is you'll be awarded the rest of your money and if permitted under WA law, your court costs too. Pretty simple and quick procedure, no lawyers allowed.

You could also tell him you're going to sue him, that may get him to reconsider and perhaps reach a better deal.

In the meanwhile, if you're having a charging problem, get the car to someone who knows what they're doing, and I'm not sure about 1991 but if it has a fusible link have them check that too (it's a protective wire sort of like a fuse that burns out to protect high-current circuits). You could also post in your car's native forum, there are some pretty brainy people in there. For that matter in that generation, just have them check the wiring harness. That was a common problem in that model.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 08:39 AM
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What was the problem with the 190E? Was it stalling by any chance?
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 12:44 PM
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Well, he does have the right to charge diagnostics time though most shops don't do so if they also address repairs.

With your alternator, if he left the new alternator in your car after providing you a refund, you are going to be hard pressed to get your labor back. His "good faith" effort at giving you a new alternator for free should mitigate the labor costs.

Electrical problems on a 15-20 year old car are some of the most difficult things to track down. The number of variables are mindnumbing. Add in the possibilities of aftermarket radios, amps, alarms, nonstandard parts and his tracing becomes harder.

The odds are you have a grounding issue somewhere in the car. And it could be anywhere.

At the current position you/he were left with a couple of options. You could have left your car with him until he found the problem but there is a very good chance you would have been on this board complaining that he charged you 25 hours @$90.00 to track down the problem and "there is no way it could take that long". Or he could "cut his loses" as he knew you would not pay for a complete diagnosis on a car that is worth $2K. It is a conundrum on some of these cars.

I spend over 30 hours tracking down a voltage leak in a 500E last year. It ending up being a faulty switch that "never breaks". It did.

To me it sounds like the compromise of refunding over 50% of your original money was a pretty good compromise on a problem that is difficult to define.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcbear View Post
With your alternator, if he left the new alternator in your car after providing you a refund, you are going to be hard pressed to get your labor back. His "good faith" effort at giving you a new alternator for free should mitigate the labor costs.
...
To me it sounds like the compromise of refunding over 50% of your original money was a pretty good compromise on a problem that is difficult to define.
No he did NOT give me a new alternator.

What he did was charge me $200+$285 the first time, then the second time he put back in my old alternator and refunded me $285.

I understand that he spent a lot of time on the car, but he did not diagnose the problem. He did not find the what was causing the battery drain. He was hired either to fix the problem or find the cause of the problem. He did neither. All he did was TRY to fix it, spend LOTS (so he says) of hours on it, and eventually give up. Does he deserve to be paid for a failure? Whats the world coming to?? He didn't even give me the tax back on the refunded alternator.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xstanz View Post
No he did NOT give me a new alternator.

What he did was charge me $200+$285 the first time, then the second time he put back in my old alternator and refunded me $285.

I understand that he spent a lot of time on the car, but he did not diagnose the problem. He did not find the what was causing the battery drain. He was hired either to fix the problem or find the cause of the problem. He did neither. All he did was TRY to fix it, spend LOTS (so he says) of hours on it, and eventually give up. Does he deserve to be paid for a failure? Whats the world coming to?? He didn't even give me the tax back on the refunded alternator.
He should have given you the tax back.

As for the diagnostics, he does have the right to charge diagnostics time, and if he can't fix it, for whatever reason, stop at a REASONABLE point. Using normal hourly rates, two hours would be considered reasonable.

I understand that you would obviously prefer it fixed but apparently he was not able to track the problem down in a reasonable time or expect to be able to do so.

McBear,
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 03:31 PM
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Mechanics get paid for their time. Sounds like he was willing to work with you. Yeah, I don't want to waste $200 or $300, but you need to ask questions before you drop it off or set guidelines for expenses.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 03:34 PM
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He was fair, you could be far worse off. Sell the Benz and buy a new or slightly used Honda Civic with plenty of warranty. You have no business with old, used cars.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shane View Post
He was fair, you could be far worse off. Sell the Benz and buy a new or slightly used Honda Civic with plenty of warranty. You have no business with old, used cars.
or a Geo Metro
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 03:54 PM
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An MB dealer will charge you $195 to walk in the door.
Sounds better ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by xstanz View Post
This topic is about my experience with a rip off mechanic. The name of the business is Automeister II, owned by Ernest Schmidt in Issaquah, WA.
Here is address of business:
Automeister II
1480 19th Ave
Issaquah, WA 98027

I brought my car to Automeister II in Issaquah, WA to fix. I drive a Mercedes Benz 1991 190e 2.3L.

First time I went there, Ernest Schmidt replaced the alternator and charged me a total of $485 (parts & labor). I drove home that same day and my car still had the same charging problem. I called him and he told me to bring the car back to his shop so I did and I left.

The next day I called him and he said that he needs more time so I said I would call him the tomorrow.

The next day, I called him and he said that he still hasn't fixed it.

He didn't work on Saturdays and Sundays so I left my car at his shop over the weekend.

On Monday, I called him and he said he had not fixed it yet. I went to the shop and he said that he is giving up and not going to fix it anymore "to cut his losses." He said that he refunded me for the alternator and used that money to fund his labor costs.

This is bullshit because he did not fix my car yet he wants to keep $200 dollars for his labor. Since when did mechanics get paid when they dont fix the car? He became frustrated and called the 190e "a piece of shit car" and blamed the car for stumping him and not being able to fix it. He insisted that he should be paid for his half-assed job. Now I am paying him for $200 dollars worth of "labor". This labor I am talking about is poking around and looking at the car, which is what he calls a diagnoses.

Is this fair and legal? He did not fix my car! Now he will only give me $285 dollars back when I paid him $485!! He's taking $200 for doing nothing with my car! I basically paid to park my car in his shop for 5 days now he's charging me $200! (Actually, refusing to pay me the rest of the money). I took the check he handed me incase I cannot get any other money from him. However I will not cash it until this is resolved.
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