Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Scammers Abound

I did a little research before I went to pick up my car. I decided to check and see how much a AC compressor actually cost, because the auto repair guys were a little disappointed that I wasn’t going to let them fix it. I couldn’t find any new compressors for my car, but I did find remanufactured ones. There were two types, one was the factory air compressor, the other was a company called Visteon. The more expensive of the two was $395 – the other was $248. That’s both the compressor and the clutch. The auto body shop was telling me that the compressor would be $595, and were going to charge me for the clutch separately. I didn’t ask whether or not the compressor they were offering me was remanufactured. When I got there they again tried to convince me to do the repair, telling me now that I wouldn’t have power steering if I didn’t do the repair. They went on to say that they could get used parts (which I’m pretty sure are not the same as remanufactured) and bring down the price $150 or so. I still declined.

Then came the bill. It was a little more than I thought it should be – mainly because they tried to charge me over $100 to remove the belt that caused the problem. They charged $71 per hour for labor, so that meant that it took them about an hour and a half to remove the belt. I told them that there was no way I was paying them to remove the belt – I had planned to just cut it off myself, which would, at most, take 5 minutes. They tried to tell me that it was difficult to get it off, which I thought was interesting, since it was nearly off in the first place. Since they didn’t give me an estimate OR get my permission to do the work they had to relent. They weren’t happy about it, but too bad. It’s illegal to try to charge for work like this and I wasn’t about to let it go.

I ended up walking out having paid $119 total, including the tow. I have to admit, the car is a lot harder to turn without the power steering – harder than I expected. I drove a car for years without power steering, but it’s substantially harder than that car was. I’ll have the whole thing fixed sometime, but it’ll be after I have a job and a decent income. And I’ll have it done on my terms – meaning I’ll pay what I should.

In the meantime I’ll take Dewdrop’s advice and buy a spray bottle and drive naked.