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:
Alderman suggests watching out for these scams:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.