Friday, August 15, 2008

How To Spot Auto Repair Fraud

Have you ever seen a person get suckered into paying more than they should have for an imaginary auto repair? Well, it happened to me. I won't use the name of the place here. All I'm going to say is that I was taking my vehicle in for a standard oil change and left this particular place about $1,000 later. I had been led to believe that there was more wrong with my car than there really was. Truth be told, my car was brand new and there was nothing wrong with it. Shame on me, I guess- but shame on those people for trying (and successfully) fooling another customer.

It is not unusual for car owners to end up paying a lot of money to have repairs made on their vehicles. Cars require a lot of maintenance and if this maintenance is overlooked the resulting repairs can be an extreme drain on finances. While many expensive car charges are perfectly legitimate and expected there are a few auto mechanics that will attempt to take advantage of the fact that many consumers expect to spend a lot of money on car repairs. Each year car owners are over charged thousands of dollars for vehicle repairs. In order to avoid being taken advantage of there are a few tricks that consumers must be aware of.

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Be wary of "specials" on oil changes, tune-ups, and other regular maintenance services. Many unscrupulous auto repair shops will use these advertised prices to attract new customers looking for a deal. Once the customer shows up to the shop the mechanic will try to separate the car owner from their vehicle and then later tell the car owner that there are many things wrong with the vehicle in order to charge more for repairs. Usually, when a scam is under way the auto repair shop will attempt to frighten the car owner into having the repairs done immediately by claiming that they will face dire consequences if they attempt to leave before having the repairs made. Don't fall for this trap, however. If you are inexperienced when it comes to your knowledge of vehicles, don't allow someone else to take advantage. Bring someone with you who knows a thing or two about cars, this way they catch the employee in a lie and/or give you advice. If you can't bring someone, have your phone handy and simply tell the employee that you don't feel comfortable with making a decision until you speak to someone more knowledgeable about car repairs.

Another way to spot repair fraud in the making is auto repair shops being unwilling to put estimates in writing. Most legitimate auto mechanics have no problem with providing written estimates prior to beginning the work. On the other hand, repair shops that are hoping to use fraud to get more money out of customer than necessary will only provide a verbal quote. This will allow the auto mechanic to complete any work they wish (or charge for parts and work not completed) without the customers consent. When this happens most customers have no choice but to pay for the repairs they did not want.

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