Quantcast
Latest Stories

The Consumer

Avoid being ripped off by car mechanics

By

The rainy season and floods mean many motor vehicles will need repairs.

This causes anxiety for people who do not just worry about the cost, but also fear they will be scammed by unscrupulous mechanics and/or repair shops.

According to Jason Alderman, who writes the weekly column Practical Money Matters and directs the financial education program Practical Money Skills for Life, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Better Business Bureau say auto repair fraud consistently ranks among top consumer complaints.

Filipino car owners may find helpful Alderman’s advice to American consumers.

The financial expert warns that “some unscrupulous operators will rip off inexperienced car owners by performing unnecessary or unauthorized repairs, substituting counterfeit or used replacement parts, or even doing such shoddy work that lives are endangered.”

To avoid some common scams, Alderman gives these pieces of advice:

  • Try to have a trusted repair shop lined up before you need one. Ask friends or your auto insurance company for recommendations. (Find out from relevant government agencies, probably the Department of Trade of Industry’s Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection, whether they have received complaints against prospective mechanics.) If your car’s warranty is still in force, use authorized dealerships.

  • If major work is needed, gather several estimates. Once you have chosen a shop, ask for a detailed estimate (with no sections left blank) before you authorize repairs. Stress that they need your permission before making additional repairs. Make sure the work order clearly specifies: repairs to be done; all fees, including parts, labor, storage, loaner car; whether new, reconditioned or used parts will be used; acceptable payment methods, completion date and diagnostic/reassembly charges if you decide to get a second opinion or have the work done elsewhere.

  • Make sure the final repair bill itemizes all work completed and parts used. (Ask to see the work done and replaced parts.) Have them indicate on the bill any guaranteed items (including exclusions), in case problems occur later.

Common scams

Alderman suggests watching out for these scams:

  • They give a verbal estimate and then charge a higher price. Always get the estimate in writing.

  • A shop offers low-cost specials (oil change, brake inspection), then pads the work order with unneeded/unwanted repairs. If in doubt, have the initial work done and get a second opinion on the rest, unless there is an immediate safety issue.

  • They charge for services covered by the warranty. Always read the warranty carefully.

Alderman says dishonest mechanics can inflict intentional damage during an inspection to boost needed repairs. If they do not want to return replaced parts, this could mean the work was not actually done or they used inferior parts.

The financial expert says not to go “against your car manufacturer’s recommendations” on the suggestion of a mechanic. “If your manual recommends getting an oil change every 10,000 miles but the mechanic says every 3,000, make sure there is a good reason,” he says.

He adds that “high-pressure sales tactics” should be resisted.

Alderman reassures car owners that they can protect themselves against auto repair scams even if they do not completely understand how their vehicle works. They just have to be more informed and more careful. They should not allow themselves to be pressured into something they are not comfortable with.

Filipinos can also learn more from the FTC’s comprehensive Auto Repair Basics site, www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0211-auto-repair-basics.

Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail lbolido@inquirer.com.ph.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Car Mechanics , Consumer Issues , Lifestyle , Motoring



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer

News

  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • [VIDEO] No assurances on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bid to become state witness
  • South Sudan president fires long-time army leader
  • Grenade explodes outside MPD Station 1
  • 25 cops ordered relieved over links to drugs
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
    Marketplace