• Report: #595426

Complaint Review: Carmen Auto Center

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  • Submitted: Thu, April 22, 2010
  • Updated: Sat, May 22, 2010

  • Reported By: Irmgard — Oxnard California United States of America
Carmen Auto Center
256 Carmen Drive Camarillo, California United States of America

Carmen Auto Center Tommy Nguyen The mechanic acted as if English is a difficult language, but had enough English skills to rip me off! Camarillo, California

*Author of original report: To Bill D. - I can take the criticism.

*General Comment: to the author again real quick

*General Comment: to the author-again

*Author of original report: I WASN'T a Victim.

*Consumer Comment: Robert actually makes some valid points..

*Author of original report: To Robert...Are you a Mechanic or Consumer!

*Consumer Comment: Yes the point seems to be a moving target..

*General Comment: i see the point changed

*Consumer Comment: Tech 1 seems to know his stuff...

*Author of original report: To Ronny G.- Open An After Hour Business.

*Consumer Comment: Nguyen dose need some life lessons

*Consumer Comment: Nguyen dose need some life lessons

*Consumer Comment: I think I should open a new business..

*Consumer Comment: Explaination...yes...

*Author of original report: A Consumer to a Mechanic-Just Fix The Car.

*Consumer Comment: let me explane

*Consumer Comment: Overlooking some facts tech 1...

*Consumer Comment: What the guy from the shop did is not a rip off

*Author of original report: Ripped Off...Threathened...Trapped...Scammed.

*Consumer Comment: What is "too funny" Robert - Ft Eustis

*Author of original report: To Ronny G. More Than The Price.

*Author of original report: To Bill D.---Lesson Learned.

*Consumer Comment: More then "price" in this complaint..

*General Comment: Too funny

*General Comment: to the author-2

*General Comment: New parts

*General Comment: $300 is high to me also

*Consumer Comment: I never answered the questions..

*Consumer Comment: Not exactly...

*Author of original report: Bill D---You Seem Confused!

*General Comment: Equipment cost

*Consumer Comment: What the diagnostic equipment cost is irrelevant...

*General Comment: Why shops call cops

*General Comment: to the author-2

*Author of original report: Don't Forget...the Mechanic Calling the Police.

*Consumer Comment: Let me again make CLEAR...

*Consumer Comment: To bill d...

*General Comment: to ronny g

*Consumer Comment: Actually, I did miss a few things..

*Consumer Comment: Robert makes some valid points as well...

*Consumer Comment: It's obvious...

*General Comment: Say WHAT?........

*Consumer Comment: There was a RipOff....

*Consumer Comment: To bill d

*General Comment: to ronny g

*Consumer Comment: The OP was TOTALLY RIPPED OFF...

*Consumer Comment: Been there

*General Comment: rebuttal to jim

*General Comment: Diagnostic fee

*General Comment: All Y'all armchair slanderers

*Author of original report: Coin a New Term...Threatened.

*Consumer Comment: Simple

*Author of original report: Personal Attacks from another Consumer.

*General Comment: to the author

*Author of original report: A Ripoff Is Not Just Dollars And Cents!

*General Comment: Master Mechanic here

*Author of original report: You Have To Get The Whole Picture

*General Comment: Sounded like a good deal to me

*General Comment: to the author-you are the rip off artist!

*Consumer Comment: You tried to rip off the mehanic.

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Before I arrived at the Carmen Auto Center on April 7, 2010 after 5:00 pm, I had been informed by my husband, my local auto repairman, and by the Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee (Auto Club of Southern California) that my Honda Civic has a problem with the alternator.

As soon as I greeted Mr. Tommy Nguyen, the mechanic, the Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee told him that my car has a problem with the alternator. The mechanic looked at me. It is also important to mention that I was present with my 8-year-old daughter. My daughter was just excited that I get the car fixed.

The Auto Club employee left, and I asked Mr. Nguyen how much it was to get the car fixed. He acted as if he didn't understand my question and mentioned an amount of $65.00. He kept going back and forth between the back of the building where I was with my daughter and the broken-down car and the gas station that is located in the front of the building.

I asked Mr. Nguyen whether he needed to take the car to the repair section of the building. He said that the car stayed where I had it. He also indicated that this was the way he would fix cars, right there in the back of the building.

Mr. Nguyen still kept going back and forth and returned with a form I had to sign. I gave him my name, address and phone number. I signed the form in order to give him permission to open the hood and start working on the car. The form also had an estimated amount of $65 on it with a description "check ... system." (I cannot read the middle word.)

As soon as the form was signed, Mr. Nguyen started talking a lot. He told me what he needed to do on my car. He gave an elaborate description on all the systems he had to check. My daughter got even more excited because she wanted to watch and see how a car gets fixed. I became suspicious because he knew it was the alternator.

Mr. Nguyen put some device on the engine and started running diagnostics. He kept going back and forth and ran a diagnostic for a few minutes. My daughter and I were alone for around 15 minutes while he kept going back and forth.

After around 20 minutes Mr. Nguyen told me that the car had a problem with the alternator. It wasn't new news to me. It must have been around 5:45 pm., and he told me that he could get the car fixed. However, the part in question, the alternator, is not in the building. He explained to me that he needed to get in touch with other stores to get the part. He also emphasized that, since it was after hours, it might be more difficult to find the part.

Mr. Nguyen went again to the front of the building and came back with an estimate to fix the car. He said it would be $300.21. I told him that it was a ripoff. He got upset. I told him that I wanted to get the car towed to my local repairman because I wasn't going to get car fixed by him. I called the Auto Club Emergency Road Service again to get my car towed.

While I was on the phone asking for a tow truck, the situation with Mr. Nguyen was getting very uncomfortable. He kept going to the front and back of the building.

Once I ordered a tow truck, I got in an argument with Mr. Nguyen because of the $300.21 he wanted. His English skills became limited, and he acted again as if he didn't know enough English to understand me.

He kept going back and forth and asked me to pay him $65.00. I told him that I wouldn't pay him $65.00 because he had known that the alternator was broken. I also told he that he didn't have to run any diagnostics on the car. I also pointed out that the time running the diagnostics was around 5 minutes; 5 minutes didn't cost $65.00.

Mr. Nguyen removed his device from the engine and wanted to take the key out of the ignition. I felt very threatened and told him that I would call the police. He said that he would call the police.

I decided to stay in the car while I was waiting with my daughter for the tow truck. In the meantime, Mr. Nguyen got on the phone. I didn't know whether he called the police or not. All I felt was threat and I wanted to leave with my daughter. The key was in the ignition, and I started the engine. To my surprise, the car worked, and I drove to my local car repair shop.

I parked the car and called my husband. My husband was still in class. His students were about to be done with an exam. We were waiting for about 15 minutes, and my husband arrived to take us home.

As soon as we got home, a message from a deputy was on our answering maching. I returned his phone call and explained what had happened during the past two hours with Mr. Nguyen. The deputy urged me to go back to Mr. Nguyen and pay $65.00. I complied.

I returned the following day (without my daughter) and paid $65.00. I filed a complaint with the Auto Club Emergency Road Services and explained what had happened with their employee. The company investigated and reimbursed $65.00 after a few days.

     

  


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/22/2010 05:01 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Carmen-Auto-Center/Camarillo-California-93010/Carmen-Auto-Center-Tommy-Nguyen-The-mechanic-acted-as-if-English-is-a-difficult-language-595426. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Author of original report

To Bill D. - I can take the criticism.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

I have taken it from you all along...I am the ripoff and not the mechanic. Maybe, the real problem was the Auto Club Emergency Service employee. He may have been full of crap!


Earlier you mentioned that this thread is stupid...I agree...it turned out to be stupid and I won't read and respond to it anymore.


 

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#2 General Comment

to the author again real quick

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

also--shops don't just have alternators laying around for people with that specific car to show up---most shops have to order the parts as customers come in--what shops do have in stock is oil filters!!! and air filters---i assume he had control arms for your car 2--along with every other known car made?!?!?!?!?!?!---this site yes is for consumers--but ones with a true legit rip off---don't blast others for saying they are wrong cause your the customer---your wrong cause you were wrong--and again--if what you say is true--then he was wrong 2--but at this point-- basically now think you are full of crap
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#3 General Comment

to the author-again

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

ok---i do see your point--however--to be fair we must look at this from all aspects of those involved--the tow driver??--he doesn't know s**t---a mechanics point of view--why do people get charged this diagnostic fee??--cause it secures the job---if everyone who had check engine lights come on on them with no symptoms and just wanted to know what the code is--many people would come in just to know--hence wasting time--even if it only is a couple minutes---they do this so you know you will be charged to look at it--and they figure if you AGREE for them to look at it most likely you will do the job so you do not waste the diagnostic fee---again--this secures the job and his time--this is his side---but again--i see your point if you did ask him straight up how much an alternator is and he dodged the question this is wrong---and let us say he just wanted you to sign this paper--again--this should be your lesson learned in life---there was wrong on all sides-----you keep saying he knew it was the alterntor cause you told him someone else said??---if i was a mechanic and i heard that crap i will check it myself to make sure as i would not want to sell you extra parts if jus changing the alternator doesn't work--then you will view me as a rip off if i try to sell additional parts to ix the true problem---again--this is the mechanics view----i admitted i was wrong and tried to be on your side--but to be honest--the more you talk--the worse it looks for you--now your saying this 300 was not the real price after he said so??--this is just speculation that he would come out with some additional story as to why it would cost more--but this didn't happen---you were paranoid of it--and bailed on his a*s before he can(if he even was going to do that)---again---i just hope you learned how business works in that you can't just go to someone and ask them to look at your machinary to know what is wrong and then not fix it--if no one charged these fees everyone would just ask what is wrong and not fix it---how many people have flat tires with slow leaks and choose to keep filling the tire with air and not fix it---although i do not know--but it seems you had this problem for some time--and just keep getting jumped/putting juice in the battery/air in the tire----again--you could have insisted to the driver what you wanted--i personally think you were just confused and do not know what you want to do--this renders you a nutbag-with all due respect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!---you still ripped off the mechanic--and don't get mad when others think you were the rip off--take the criticism and learn
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#4 Author of original report

I WASN'T a Victim.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

I wasn't victimized being stranded with a Honda Civic and an 8-year-old.

I defended myself and understood right away that the Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee and the auto mechanic, Mr. Nguyen, tried to victimize me.

I was lucky enough to remove myself from the situation and hope that I will get into a similar one ever again!

 

 

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#5 Consumer Comment

Robert actually makes some valid points..

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

And Robert being a well known "victim kicker" on this website, it is not easy for me to agree with him 99.9% of the time.

The core of this whole report if told with truthfulness, wreaks of extortion and a form or approaching a form of bait and switch in a sense. Regardless of the reasoning and points Robert makes, I can't overlook one fact which is in question...

If the service employee, who did also diagnose this as a bad alternator, and was informed by the poster that she had it previously diagnosed twice as a bad alternator (by her husband and local repairman)...what was the intent or point of this service employee to persuade her to go to this particular after hours guy right then and there?

Answer that, and the case is solved.

As far as the poster driving with a bad alternator..yes, it is not a good idea, but apparently she has been doing it for some time and dealing with it. As stated, an alternator can be bad, but still put out a minimal charge..however conditions such as long periods of idle (alternators begin to put out higher voltage at around 1500- 2500 RPM in most cases), or heavier loads such as headlights and the blower motor, will cause the battery to die quicker. Also as stated, if the battery is charged or jumped well, a car like a Honda Civic can drive for a decent length of time depending on conditions before the battery is depleted, even if the alternator was putting out zero volts.


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#6 Author of original report

To Robert...Are you a Mechanic or Consumer!

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

You seem to be a mechanic trying to defend Mr. Nguyen.


I know, once I signed an estimate of $65.00, the mechanic tried to run a diagnosis. I am not against a diagnostic exam if the repair fees are reasonable. They weren't fair because the $300.21 was only an oral estimate. An amount of $(indefinite amount of dollars) was not even an option for me. It was all bull.... because he had the part in the store.


I assume you are a mechanic! This site for consumers...remember?! Don't "tear apart" consumers.

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#7 Consumer Comment

Yes the point seems to be a moving target..

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

So lets go back to the OP.

They complained that they didn't know that the $65 estimate that they signed and did say "CHECK....system" was only for the diagnostics.  Yet she also says that she knew that the $65 dollars was not to repair it.  So what exactly did she think the $65 was for, or does she make a habbit of signing things without understanding them.

She then complains about the cost being $300 when she knows her other mechanic only charged her $200.  Yet her other mechanic does not work "after hours".  She also knows that this mechanic must have been lying when he said that the part may be hard to get.  Yet didn't seem to have a problem when her mechanic had to order the part. 

The other mechanic was going to take so long that she decided to take her car and continue driving on a bad alternator.  Because she thought that a battery would continue to charge even with a fault alternator.  Let us just hope that it was not the mechanic who fixed her car that told her that, because we all saw how that worked out.

She then asks why any shop owner would call the police.  Yet she is the one who initially stated that she told him she was going to call the police.  He then said well maby he would, and she went off onto something where he said that because he thought that she had some "past" that she was worried about.

Of course let us not forget that she left without paying the bill.  The trys to say that she didn't have to return the following day when in fact she knew she did, and the officer probably told her that as well.  That if she didn't he could file charges on her for "Theft of Services".

Then she gets the $65 refunded by the TOWING company and that somehow infers that the mechanic was wrong.

What ever the result of this was let's just hope that she learned a few things.

- NEVER sign anything unless you fully understand it

- If you are ever "stranded" again and are "forced" to go to a specific business instantly contact AAA(or what ever Roadside Assistance company) or the Police.

- If you have a bad alternator it probably is not the best idea to continue to drive until you get it fixed.

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#8 General Comment

i see the point changed

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

it seems now people are bitchin about fixing a car "after hours"---should we now blame part stores for not being open late and don't deliver after 5---i am sure the worst case scenario had she decided to fix the car it would have been compltete the next morning--i never worked in a shop that just has alternators laying around--most shops order alternators from part stores and what they get is always a remaned unit--i seen one shop charge a guy for a new alternator on a mercedes-then shipped it down the block to replace the voltage regulator and the pulley and spray paint it to look new---there was wrong on all sides here including this tow truck driver--how would he know he can fix it after hours??--although i see the point in what the author said in asking straight up how much it will be-then switched to diagnostic charge--there is wrong there--he could have just said to put an alternator would cost whatever---i think he just tried to get th 65 to secure the job and time--i think he may have though if i charge her the 65 first-then maybe she won't just bail(rendering this 65 wasted to her) and do the job in which this 65 would not have been charged---again this 300 price did not seem unreasonable--i can understand if he said something outragous like 800 or something--i think he was just using this 65 to secure the job or time--in terms of what the author did wrong it is hard to say--although she did bail out when he called the cops(doesn't look good)--but she should have known this 65 was for checking the car--it seems like she didn't insist on things through all matters of the ordeal(including the tow truck driver)--for her being a weak women in this respect i cannot see her as wrong in any way--however--i just hope after this incident she grew a set of balls basically and knows how to handle things--just a lesson learned
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#9 Consumer Comment

Tech 1 seems to know his stuff...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

But a couple facts you may have overlooked...

"I just hope that cheap part lasts my experiences an OEM part lasts 6-15 years."


While I agree with this statement in some cases, it is a pretty general statement. People prefer that they have a choice and are not forced to always buy OEM parts at top dollar when in many cases a much more inexpensive part will suffice, or even be of better quality. I do know a few aftermarket alternators that carry a lifetime warranty, try to get that from an OEM part. Just today a friend of mine purchased a 30 dollar part from the dealer. I had him return it an located him an identical part with a lifetime warranty for 3 dollars and change. Just because the dealer charges more for parts, does not always mean they are better. Look at the dealer cost vs. markup on many parts and you will understand..the markup is off the charts.

As far a "book time" that is a standard in most cases, although some charge by time only, and some charge flat rate depending on the job and shop policy. However the HOURLY and flat rates can vary greatly from shop to shop. Compare the hourly rate a dealership charges to a mom and pop. You can't say just because one shop charges more they are better, and one that charges less is worse..it can go either way which is why people need to find the right mechanic..or get ripped off. I know that I get a ton of electrical work that the dealer either could not do, or would not do, or wanted to charge so much it wasn't even considered..so I am glad to take those jobs.

As far as this mechanic..I am not sure where he had his hourly rates posted outside at night while he was running around and the poster and her daughter were by the car..but I smell extortion and lack of ethics in this whole scenario. And to note, I would think it reasonable to assume that this "after hours" job done outside of a broken down gas station, would not be subject to a dealership level labor and parts rate.

We do not know what kind of alternator he was going to use..and we do not know if he conducted the test properly or not, or did anything really... We know it took 5 minutes..which in all fairness is the most it would take me to test the output of a Honda Civic alternator in a running vehicle...but 65 bucks for that? And telling her he could not locate an alternator when that is why she went there in the first place?..I am not a fan of this guy..he gives the entire automotive service industry a bad name..him and people like him.








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#10 Author of original report

To Ronny G.- Open An After Hour Business.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

I agree with you!

Mr. Nguyen is ahead of you. He thought of it before YOU.

Open an After Hour Repair Business and make sure you always run a diagnosis, regardless. You are assured to charge $65.00. If the customer doesn't want his/her car fixed, call the police. They will pay you at least $65.00. It's guaranteed.

You got a gold mine.

LOL

 

 

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#11 Consumer Comment

Nguyen dose need some life lessons

AUTHOR: Tech1 - (U.S.A.)

I just hope that cheap part lasts my experiences an OEM part lasts 6-15 years. I am happy you did get a refund. (It should have been him that paid it), this man just didn't have the experience to do diagnoses rapidly, and I don't feel he should have charged you 1.0 hour to diagnoses. However, even warranty will pay .2 to diagnoses a generator. His price is still not unreasonable. The book time is .8 hour and the part runs $80-$160 depending on quality.
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#12 Consumer Comment

Nguyen dose need some life lessons

AUTHOR: Tech1 - (U.S.A.)

I just hope that cheap part lasts my experiences an OEM part lasts 6-15 years. I am happy you did get a refund. (It should have been him that paid it), this man just didn't have the experience to do diagnoses rapidly, and I don't feel he should have charged you 1.0 hour to diagnoses. However, even warranty will pay .2 to diagnoses a generator. His price is still not unreasonable. The book time is .8 hour and the part runs $80-$160 depending on quality.
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#13 Consumer Comment

I think I should open a new business..

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

I will call it "after hours auto repair".

What you do is have the vehicle diagnosed...then bring it to me after hours for repair.

Then I "re-diagnose" it, and tell you I don't have the part..but it may be several hundred dollars or more if I can locate it.

Then I charge you for the re-diagnosis. If you don't pay up, I call the police.

As long as you signed an invoice..that makes it all good.

Kidding aside, I could never operate like this. Our forms have very distinct language on what is being conducted.and not scribble..it is in print. Perfoming a job for a customer is not supposed to be a scam or a battle or threatening or fighting or police involvement.

It is supposed to be...

A) what does the customer need?
b) quote customer based on their request and needs for any parts, labor, diagnosis , verification required
c) perform job as agreed. request payment
d) customer drives off happy, mechanic gets paid for the job as requested

I guess that makes it too easy?
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#14 Consumer Comment

Explaination...yes...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

Oh I totally understand about diagnosis. The thing is, in this case the poster was mislead into following a service employee with expectation to replace a previously diagnosed alternator problem, only to be "trapped" into paying a diagnoses fee with no intent to repair what she was supposedly going to this mechanic to have done.

Most cars do not have an alternator fuse because the alternator wire runs directly from the alternator to the battery. It does not have any effect on the fuse panels, it either connects directly to the battery + terminal, or to a junction on the side of the main panel, but goes from there directly to the battery terminal, it has no effect on the fuses. This is the case with almost every vehicle i know of.

I do not know what is an "alternator initiator wire" so perhaps you care to explain.  But if you mean to say the output wire..I would assume anyone checking an alternator would make sure to test at the battery first, then pull back the rubber isolator and check at the main alternator output terminal as well, takes a total of 10 seconds to do this. If there was a case where a fuse or link was utilized, this would be quite apparent as a 10 dollar meter would certainly notice zero volts getting to the battery.

Next you speak of a generator? A generator was used in like the 1950's and earlier..and those had external rectifiers and regulators..totally different animal from a Honda Civic. A generator produces AC..an alternator produces AC as well.but the output is DC, hence the rectifier is internal.

If you think an ASE certification is useless, at the master level..well you are entitled to your opinion. But when you can pass even the practice questions on the basic A6..come back and we can have a discussion.

I agree there is no substitute for experience..but those that knock the certification tests..are normally those that can't pass it. And those are NOT the ones I want ripping me off and burning up my car.






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#15 Author of original report

A Consumer to a Mechanic-Just Fix The Car.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

As an mechanic you don't have to play games! Just fix the car!


If you think you have to run a diagnosis, do so. In this case it wasn't necessary. After the test, give me a reasonable written estimate! In this case it would have been around $200.00. I will pay you to get it done. I'm not "married" to my local mechanic. I don't expect you to fix an alternator on a car for $65.00, either. I know you have to make a living.


Fixing a alternator is simple...please, don't give me an extended "spiel" of a 20-minute-diagnostic test by running back and forth and using the actual time of 5 minutes to get it done. It's silly. Maybe, my invisible shirt was visible to Mr. Nguyen and told him, "Indeed, I am retarded."


Don't call the police on a customer. It's a sure way to piss off a customer in hindsight. I was just lucky that the car started, and I wanted to get away from that "mess of getting a car fixed for $300.21 or more," depending on the difficulty getting the part after hours.


By the way, I didn't have to return the following day and pay $65.00. I could have just told Mr. Nguyen in a nice way, of course, "F..k yourself and I am not going to pay." There was nothing he could have done! He may have taken me to a Small Claims Court, but it is more costly for him to collect $65.00 than for me to agree and pay the fee. At the time, when I paid, I felt the money was "down the drain" and didn't think of any reimbursement of the Auto Club. To my surprise, they reimbursed me quickly.


In short, Mr. Nguyen could have just given me a written estimate of $200.00 to fix the alternator (The part was in his shop.) on my car within an hour instead of wasting my time and "playing his darn games!"


P.S.: Here is a proof of the reimbursement of $65.00 if some of you read this thread and don't believe me.

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#16 Consumer Comment

let me explane

AUTHOR: Tech1 - (U.S.A.)

What my point was is you can't trust other people's diagnoses. I have seen the alternator initiator wire pulled back in the plunge. Most people do not look for that. You speak of sparks not all broken wires spark. You may not have seen a fuse box melt inside but I have you can't pull the fuses out. And you will have no charging voltage. Some cars do have an alternator fuse this one may not.


The car I was speaking of the customer thought it was the alternator based on what the tow truck driver said. the problem was all the dash lights would come on one by one before the car would stop all forward motion They wanted a est. on a generator and If it was my opinion if it would fix it and if I did any thing wrong because the drove the car 500 miles then this happened. The R.O did not say this.


Yes, I do agree with you that he may have used unclear communication to rope them in to diagnoses that is wrong to do. It is not wrong to be upfront in charges. But evidently ether some one didn't lesson or speak clearly It no longer maters.


For the OP be sure you read every thing he had on paper before you approve any job. You may be paying for diagnoses when you didn't want to. My alternator Diagnoses charge is low usually .2-.5 depending on the car. And you pay that if you approve the repair or not.


I also agree that Diagnoses is very easy on cars. I do know you are very knowledge ably about electrical Diagnoses Your ASE mean nothing really. That is the easiest thing to get. I joke that it stands for Actually Special ED (I know you can't use an acronym for an acronym) It may be the best thing they have to raid us but it really is worthless. I believe if you are willing to pay the price to learn any one can do this job. The price you pay involves many things.


Sorry I still dont have much time to post.

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#17 Consumer Comment

Overlooking some facts tech 1...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

Number 1, there is no fuse on an alternator. Number 2, the alternator was already diagnosed. Yes it is not a bad idea for the mechanic to verify before doing the repair, but this mechanic and service employee were setting this poster up after hours, with no intent on replacing the alternator at the time. There was no reason for this poster to be persuaded to go to this mechanic if the alternator was not going to be replaced at the time. As well, the mechanic diagnosed a bad alternator also. If there were any frayed or chewed up wires I am sure the sparks would have been evident when the hood was open and the engine is running.

I agree an OEM alternator is more expensive then an aftermarket or re-manufactured but we do not know what this mechanic was going to use, and he wasn't able to get one at the time..so it is impossible to use this as a defense. We would need more info.

It is all well and good whatever it took you to fix the stalling in the car you had, but this was an alternator job on a Civic...can't compare it. The tests to conclude a bad alternator are pretty straight forward, and a Civic uses a conventional alternator with a built in regulator, either it is putting out enough voltage or not..no extensive diagnoses necessary.

Now you say this man kept going back and forth to look at a wiring diagram? For what??? The alternator has one wire that runs from the alternator to the battery. Are you sure you are a tech? You sound like an alternator diagnoses requires a wiring diagram on a Civic, are you kidding me? And what is the difference how much the meter cost..as long as it can measure voltage, it will tell you if the alternator is putting out enough of it..what more would you need to know, and how expensive of a meter do you think is required?

If the zone is giving wrong codes..I can't explain why, my code reader has been 100% and it cost 30 bucks.

But if you read this report...you will notice it has veered way off topic by those trying to defend this mechanic. There is no way to defend shady business tactics and taking advantage of someone who had a break down and needed help. The "help" she got was a person that led her into a trap..it doesn't matter if this was an alternator, or a flat tire..they tried to nail her and failed. I am not saying it was wise to take off, but I can understand why she did if she felt threatened. She paid anyhow, and was reimbursed. I never heard of a reimbursement issued from the Auto Club unless the customer was somehow wronged.


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#18 Consumer Comment

What the guy from the shop did is not a rip off

AUTHOR: Tech1 - (U.S.A.)

He most likely did the additional tests because if he sold the job and it turned out to be a blown fuse, rat chewed wire, frayed wire the customer would complain. The tests are easy but we are paid on what we know on this car it is .8-1.0 hour for parts replacement and OEM is $200-$400.

 I just had a car that would stall at random times every one was telling me to replace the shifter, ECM, or the TCM. The dealer required me to call help line because I just installed an EGR cooler and a Duel mass flywheel. Well I have to do diagnoses I told him it would be between 1 hour -7 hours I spent 16 hours because it took 2 hours to get the issue to happen to diagnoses it turned out to be the Power steering rack. I conformed that the wiring was good.

This man kept going back and forward to look ant the wiring diagram and to verify. He probably was using the $10 voltmeter.

I do not except other shops or techs diagnoses because they can be wrong. If I replace the customers requested parts with no diagnoses the dealer can and has been sued for that because we did what the customer wanted. What he did was CYA yes you are right sometimes a code reader is all you need unless you are given the wrong code, which I have seen, from the zone

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#19 Author of original report

Ripped Off...Threathened...Trapped...Scammed.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

I don't know what you want to call it, but I was ripped off in a subtle way, threathened, trapped or scammed.

The dollar amount was not the issue; it was the way the mechanic tried to do business with me! I understand a diagnostic cost is part of the repair, and I also understand a mechanic needs to make a living.

Maybe I wore an invisible shirt saying, "I am retarded." ...but I am not an idiot. The mechanic wasn't an idiot either...but he wanted me to be one.

Any alternator replacement on a Honda Civic is not $300.21! I got an estimate and two diagnostic runs on the very same day. It's NOT rocket science to fix an alternator. It's close to replacing a light bulb.

By the way, $300.21 was only an oral estimate to get the car fixed. I refused the amount because I knew he was lying. He also wanted to tell me how difficult it was to attain the part AFTER hours. He really tried to rip me off and wanted to increase the repair from $300.21 to $(amount I didn't know) once I signed the estimate for the repair.

I cannot replace an alternator or fix a car, but I do know when a repairman lies and tries to make a big deal out of something little!

 

 

 

 

 

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#20 Consumer Comment

What is "too funny" Robert - Ft Eustis

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

..is that you completely missed the point, and like I sometimes do, responding without reading or understanding what you are responding too..I will explain..

You state and I quote..

"Doing ANY air conditioner service at all on an autombile without a R-R-R machine is a clear violation of Federal Law under section 609 of the Clean Air Act. Professional shops know this. They also know the mechs must be licensed, and the entire point of the license is to know the laws. You just outed yourself. Being in Cali, you should stop touching anyhing that contains freon."

There was never any debate about this, the Honda in question was not there for AC service, and "freon" was never mentioned, I don't even know if you can get freon in California.

Also I do not perform AC service for customers, and I never stated that I did. I simply stated if I need a re-charge (not a servicing), I can use a cheap can, which has always done the job. The type of refrigerant I use is R134a which is fully legal for a do it your yourself customer to purchase and use. However, California did propose a law back in 07 to ban R134a for sale to the general public which would have forced DIY'ers to go to a licensed shop for a recharge. I guess the law didn't pass since all autoparts stores still sell it to the general public.

So it seems I am not "outed" on this one, you are for not paying attention and then rebutting.


"Reading codes is NOT diagnosing an issue. REAL scanners conduct tests, and offer realtime information about what is happening at that time. A code reader does nothing except read a code. The code is seldom, if ever the root cause of the problem. Ask a Ford owner how many EGR valves get replaced versus the DPFE sensor that causes the EGR code. Hilarious."

I never debated this either..I basically said the same thing as you so go back and double check. However, a cheap code scanner will read a code, and it is considered diagnosing. For example a customer comes in with an MIL on, signifying a malfunction. So is the first step ANY mechanic does for diagnosing?  DUH, plug in a scanner. Now if for example the trouble code comes up as an O2 sensor, or a generic OBD2 code like PO301 , number 1 misfire...it stills needs further diagnoses..could be a wire, a faulty sensor, many things. So if someone charges for a diagnosis, and simply replaces a part based off nothing but the code, that is another issue.

However there are many times I have used a basic reader and it pointed me right to the problem that required no other more expensive scanners to diagnose. I do agree some newer vehicles may require more then a standard reader to diagnose issues, but it is certainly not required in every case when a light comes on. Hence I have a basic reader, AND a scope for further analyzing.

For example..here is what my cheap 40 dollar code scanner can do..quoted off the online manual..










  • Retrieves generic and manufacturer specific Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC), includes definitions lookup software on CD and displays DTC definitions on screen
  • Features an easy-to-read backlit LCD screen, multilingual menu and DTC definitions and standard 16-pin OBD-II connector; no additional cables are needed
  • Retrieves VIN (Vehicle Identification No) on 2002 and newer vehicles that support Mode 9; powered by cars electrical system, so no batteries required
  • Supports the CAN (Controller Area Network) protocols and all other current OBD-II protocols
  • Works with all OBD-II compliant U.S., European and Asian vehicles (OBD-II is standard on all cars sold in U.S. post-1996)




Regardless an OBD scanner of any type was not required for this posters Civic diagnoses, so the point is moot. It was brought up by others to make a point, but the point failed since it is irrelevant in this case.

"Go ahead and attempt to use a multimeter on a hybrid. I can push 12 volts through a single strand of wire, but not the 30-400 amps required to run a car. A battery tester/analyzer will zero in on the problems quickly. They sell them for a reason. They work."

Was it stated anywhere this Civic is a hybrid? It was a standard 12v system, a standard alternator with internal rectifier and regulator, and no large amounts of current was required to run through the meter.

A battery "tester/analyzer" is really no more then a voltmeter..and a voltmeter can conclude the identical results. If the battery is not sealed you can check the chemical condition of each cell to find if any are bad but that also is a cheap tool..a hydrometer which is not much more then a Turkey baster as far as cost and sophistication.

I have had training on Hybrids and the high voltage part of the system has different safety procedures, we even are supposed to wear special gloves. All the high voltage wires are clearly marked and protected.

But as far as all the other electronics in the car, it is still quite conventional 12v negative ground technology.


"Shops that use the proper tools/equipment charge more than shadetrees that don't use them. They have too. They have more investment at stake. They also know what they are doing.

The OP wanted real shop service at shadetree pricing."


The OP wanted this shadetree mechanic to replace the alternator. Did you read the report? It was after hours, outside of a broken down gas station, and the mechanic did not even have access to an alternator available to complete the job at the time. The customer should not have been persuaded to go there at all if the job could not be completed. Since the OP states the alternator was already diagnosed, by her mechanic as well as the service employee that persuaded her to be followed to this repair place..why on earth would she have gone to this shadetree guy just to pay 65 dollars to have it diagnosed again?

The poster was clearly expecting the alternator to be replaced, and one would assume under these circumstances, at a good price. She even explains her daughter was excited to watch the car finally getting "fixed". She didn't get an alternator, but she certainly got the shaft.
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#21 Author of original report

To Ronny G. More Than The Price.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

You really understood my point.

The ripoff wasn't a large amount of money. It was the way the mechanic tried to deal with a customer. It wasn't fair!

I know I am not a mechanic and cannot fix/replace an alternator. I am just a consumer you tries to make sense! The mechanic didn't make any sense to me.

Thanks for your support and understanding.

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#22 Author of original report

To Bill D.---Lesson Learned.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

Yes, I sure learned my lesson!

Mr. Nguyen never mentioned that he would run a diagnostic. A diagnostic test had already been run by the Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee 10 minutes prior we got to the auto repair shop. As soon as we arrived at the shop, the employee and I asked him to replace the alternator. Mr. Nguyen just looked at me. He told the employee that he would take good care of me. It made me suspicious!    

The ripoff was the way the mechanic tried to "work me." He knew I was vulnerable and really wanted that I get the car fixed by him AND not by my mechanic. If a mechanic is an average mechanic, he could get it fixed between $150 and $200. To replace an alternator on a Honda Civic is not complicated.

My local mechanic, who doesn't work after 5:00 pm, had already ordered the part for the car. Mr. Nguyen, on the other hand, first confirmed to the Auto Club employee that he had the part in the shop, but, later, he told me otherwise. He said that the repair might me more costly because getting an alternator after hours is a bit difficult to attain. I felt that he was lying!

And...yes, I agree with you Bill D. Just taking off and not paying is not right! I also felt wrong about doing it, but I tried to get away with my daughter. As soon as I arrived at my house, I had a long conversation with the deputy who had been called by Mr. Nguyen. The deputy basically explained to me that Mr. Nguyen did some work on my car and that I should pay him. He encouraged me to return to the shop and pay $65.00. I agreed and went back the following day. I paid the fee.

Thanks for your time and effort for the rebuttals.

 

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#23 Consumer Comment

More then "price" in this complaint..

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

The customer was reimbursed because the whole setup was a scam.

She should not have been followed to this shop as told be by the service employee if the alternator was not going to be replaced then and there. It was after hours and she had her child with her. They were expecting a replacement alternator INSTALLED, not "diagnosed. And, she should have been given an estimate for the replacement first regardless as the alternator was already diagnosed, and the mechanic was informed of this. Maybe it was a language barrier issue, but regardless, the poster was misled.

I know what an alternator cost from Napa, and I know what it takes to install one in a Civic, but how do you know what this mechanic was using in the broken down gas station doing stuff after hours?

You are missing the point on so many levels.

Now you state...

As a professional, I have seen way too many cars come in that the cusromer was told one thing by someone else, that turned out to be something entirely different...Especially alternators. Most of the time, it's nothing more than a wiring issue. You go ahead and use that voltmeter. I'll do it the correct way.

I agree it "could" be something else. But what in your "professional" opinion could it be in a Honda Civic that a simple voltmeter could not diagnose with 100% accuracy. We can't "see" electron flow, the meter is our "eyes" so we know what is going on. It is was a wiring issue, the mechanic would have said so if he new what he was doing. He also unnecessarily diagnosed a bad alternator.

But since the battery in this case is dying after time, but runs after a jump,the symptoms point to a bad battery, or a bad alternator, both quick and easy to diagnose without "requiring elaborate testing equipment. If you know of any other tests to diagnose a battery or alternator output that I am unaware of, kindly post what is the "proper" equipment and procedure..but I should warn I am ASE master certified in electronics system, so you won't be able to BS me.


The diagnostic fee was agreed to by the OP. When it was done, she balked. She also wanted the shop to resell her the part at shop-cost. No labor, no markup, no profit.

Yes the fee was agreed to once the poster signed, but I still feel she was mislead, and brought to this mechanic under false pretenses. She should have been quoted for the replacement which she believed was the reason she was going there, and explained that diagnoses is included in the total price to verify. THAT is the CORRECT way to do business when a customer comes in asking for a replacement alternator that has been diagnosed, even by the service employee who it is safe to assume this customer would trust, she is not in the business nor dies she know how to replace an alternator or would have done so herself.

How do you know what she wanted the shop to resell her the part for? How do you know it was "no-cost"? A mechanic usually does not pay retail, even from Napa. But how do you know where he is getting the part from, what he is paying, what his labor markup is, or if he has any overhead considering he was working outside of a broken down gas station "after hours"? If i could do this job for  around$200.00 and make a profit, and her local mechanic can do this job and make a profit, what makes you think she was not expecting this mechanic to make a profit?



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#24 General Comment

Too funny

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

Doing ANY air conditioner service at all on an autombile without a R-R-R machine is a clear violation of Federal Law under section 609 of the Clean Air Act. Professional shops know this. They also know the mechs must be licensed, and the entire point of the license is to know the laws. You just outed yourself. Being in Cali, you should stop touching anyhing that contains freon.

Reading codes is NOT diagnosing an issue. REAL scanners conduct tests, and offer realtime information about what is happening at that time. A code reader does nothing except read a code. The code is seldom, if ever the root cause of the problem. Ask a Ford owner how many EGR valves get replaced versus the DPFE sensor that causes the EGR code. Hilarious.

Go ahead and attempt to use a multimeter on a hybrid. I can push 12 volts through a single strand of wire, but not the 30-400 amps required to run a car. A battery tester/analyzer will zero in on the problems quickly. They sell them for a reason. They work.

Shops that use the proper tools/equipment charge more than shadetrees that don't use them. They have too. They have more investment at stake. They also know what they are doing. 

The OP wanted real shop service at shadetree pricing.

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#25 General Comment

to the author-2

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

i apologize---after re reading your original post you claim to have asked him how much it was for the alternator---before he came out with thr 65$ to check it--in any case---you may be partly right that he was not upfont--this i give you credit for--however--it seems he was just trying to secure funds for his time caue he himself should look at it--after all-you let the tow truck guy follow you there--again-this 65 would have been erased if you did the work---but also--the price he gave for the alternator after confirming it was was 300$--this is a fair price---i can understand if he qouted you like 800$ or spomething-but he gave a fair price--if you didn't like it you should of just paid and left---although i see your point of view--and i admit wrong of the mechanic to not tell you straight up if in fact you did ask how much it woul be---but it doesn't look good when you bail out when he calls 5 0----in any case--just let this be a lesson to you---insist on what the price is before you do anything--you shoulkd have known 65 would not be to replace the alternator--and if you have a trusted mechanic and a tow truck brings you somewhere unknown--insist you want it taken there--with this i can see wrong on both sides--but again--i hope you have learned from this

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#26 General Comment

New parts

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

The price for a NEW alternator for a 2003 CivicEX(again, the average age and most popular model) from NAPA is $189. Add the 1.2 hours and you are at the $300 range you feel is too high. Only an idiot would put his shop at risk by using a cheap reman unit. Good shops use good parts, and none come any better than the NAPA line.

As a professional, I have seen way too many cars come in that the cusromer was told one thing by someone else, that turned out to be something entirely different...Especially alternators. Most of the time, it's nothing more than a wiring issue. You go ahead and use that voltmeter. I'll do it the correct way.

The diagnostic fee was agreed to by the OP. When it was done, she balked. She also wanted the shop to resell her the part at shop-cost. No labor, no markup, no profit.

 

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#27 General Comment

$300 is high to me also

AUTHOR: Inspector - (USA)

I would not pay it.  As for the diagnostics, as a former electronic technician, I never take anyone at their word.  You stated "he knew it was the alternator" how did he know that?  Because you said so?  A good mechanic will perform tests regardless of what the customer says.

His time is money and labor cost more than the parts.

Besides, you don't need an alternator, just keep driving right?

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#28 Consumer Comment

I never answered the questions..

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

Which repair/service do you think will cost more?


1.The A/C recharge done correctly with a machine that recovers/recycles/recharges the system?


2.The 14oz can attached to a rubber hose?

Answer: #1. However if the customer comes in expecting to have a compressor replaced, they should be quoted a price for the compressor replacement and any diagnoses/testing before the vehicle is touched..and be informed that the shop does not have a compressor in stock if it is implied they are there for a compressor replacement. If a customer comes into the shop requesting only diagnoses on the AC system, then they should be given a quote for only the diagnoses.

However as long as the system just needs an AC charge, the rubber hose works fine..I usually splurge for the 30 dollar one with the gauge, although I could just feel when it's blowing cold and use the 22 dollar can.


Which computer diagnostic do you think is accurate?


1.The FREE diagnostic done at parts stores with a code scanner?


2.The proper diagnosis of the OBD system done with a scanner that runs actual tests on the ECM/PCM/TCM/BCM?

Answer: Both. It depends on what caused the trouble code. If it is something as typical as an O2 sensor, then a cheap code scanner is all that is necessary. If the auto parts store scanner can not read the code or recognize the vehicle, then the customer must pay the dealer or a shop that is equipped and authorized since it is REQUIRED that a special or more expensive scanner be used. In that case the customer of course is there for diagnosis, hence the estimate would be expected to be only for diagnoses.

BTW, the cheap code scanners are also plugged into the OBD port. The cheaper ones won't work with all vehicles, but they both read OBD 2. It would certainly read a Honda Civic. The cheaper ones just may not have less popular vehicles such as a KIA and the like, or expensive German and exotics. Either way, it reads a code. Each code scanner is just as accurate for what it reads..only a cheaper one may not read all codes in all vehicles.


Which starting/charging system test do you think is being done correctly?


1.The one with a multimeter and a load tester, both of which can only check voltage at the battery?


2.The proper starter/charging system test done with the correct equipment that checks amperage draw/charge, voltage, rectifier/diode function, noise(static)?

If you are simply testing the alternator for output an inexpensive voltmeter or DMM (digital multi meter) is the only test equipment REQUIRED. If you are testing a battery, a load tester is all that is REQUIRED, although this can be done with just a meter and the headlights. A load in tester in general does not check voltage (although some do have a voltmeter built in), it is a primitive device that simply places a load on the battery. A voltmeter can test voltage ANYWHERE in the vehicle, not just the battery. It has a very high internal resistance and is computer safe.

Now, to check a starter also can be done with a meter, a cheap DMM, which is really what a voltmeter is normally called, can check current, voltage and resistance..some do more. To check a starter you can certainly use a voltmeter to  trace the system. Ignition switch, to starter relay, to starter.

A cheap DMM can accurately test current draw and charge. There is no reason to conduct a current draw test if the alternator is diagnosed as bad. That needs to be addressed first. You test for current draw if the alternator is GOOD, and the battery is GOOD, but it still dies all the time. That kind of diagnoses can take a lot of time, and not too many mechanics get involved. It is left to the auto electronic experts like myself, and you can not quote a total price before starting the job..only a per hourly charge since there is sometimes no way to determine how long it will take to find the draw..or what is involved to fix it. So it is not a fair comparison.

To check the rectifier (which is the diode array) and for "noise"..which is not static..that applies to RF..what you actually can have is technically called "ripple current", which the battery will filter out most normal ripple current, which all alternators produce some, a byproduct of rectification. However a bad diode will cause too much ripple (by not rectifying the AC into DC properly), and this can cause problems with the ECM in some cases but rare, and it can sometimes be heard through the stereo. It will also cause a warning light to come on. Either "check engine", "voltage" , "charging"etc depending on what vehicle.

However in this case, the alternator was already diagnosed as bad..so unless the mechanic was going to rebuild it, there would be no reason to need an oscilloscope, which is used to read the sine wave and it will show the ripple current on the screen. The mechanic in this case does not need to diagnose what is wrong with the alternator..only that it needs replacement. Judging from this post, I HIGHLY doubt this mechanic has an O-scope, or would know how to use it if he did.

Hope this answered your questions satisfactorily.


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#29 Consumer Comment

Not exactly...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

Okay, we can get over the cost of diagnostics..but again a 10 dollar meter and a few minutes is all that is needed to check voltage..no "computers" or freon disposal required. There are certain things that many shops will do as a courtesy, and some things that do require expensive computers or disposal fees is another story..I still feel this was an orchestrated scam, hustle, swindle and deception.

The customer needed a jump.

The service employee agrees the alternator is bad, as well as her husband. her local mechanic..lets assume this is true.

The service employee jumps her, and tells her to go to a shop that can FIX this after hours..(not DIAGNOSE, but FIX, the problem was diagnosed by several people already)

She gets to the shop, who extorts 65 dollars from her because he had no INTENT on replacing the alternator after hours, since the mechanic said he can't even get one then. Quotes her a high price for the alternator replacement, after diagnosing it was what was already established, which should have been quoted before he touched the car. (the entire job, not just the 5 minute diagnosis).

The customer should have not signed the invoice, agreed, and it doesn't seem like driving off was right either, but in the end,,she was reimbursed for a reason..wouldn't we all agree?

When we ask someone in the services industry to do something SPECIFIC, they should quote the job, not just the diagnoses, UNLESS they are setting a trap.

The price of 300 dollars is high as well, even though this is not the scam. The scam is that she was mislead into believing the repair would be done "after hours". However, 300 bucks is closer to dealer pricing for this job. I could find an alternator for this car from $30.00 to $100.00 max, and charge 50-75 to install it. It's a quick job this is not the space shuttle or a Maserati..it's a civic for petes sake. I guess I shouldn't expect any novices to understand, when you do auto electric almost every day you know what things cost and what it takes.

But anyone ethical should be able to clearly tell this woman was deceived.
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#30 Author of original report

Bill D---You Seem Confused!

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

Just because the mechanic was an Asian man doesn't mean that he was incompetent. In fact, he was very competent.


Now,...you talk about something that is completely unrelated...how Asians drive. I don't care how they drive. I just know that this mechanic knew what he was doing.


Although he had a strong accent speaking in English, he knew enough English to understand me. He wasn't stupid.


I guess his English comprehension skills changed whenever the information was crucial or not.


Although Mr. Nguyen already knew the alternator had a problem, he still insisted on running a diagnostic test. I asked him, as soon as I arrived, how much it would cost to have the alternator fixed. He acted as if he didn't understand me. How convenient! After a few minutes he mentioned $65 before I signed the paper.


Bill D---If I really wanted to rip off a mechanic, do you think I would have given him my correct address and phone number? I had absolutely no intention to rip him off. I had to leave and deal with his silly $65 later that week.


I just question what type of customers they have at Carmen Auto Center in Camarillo. Do they have customers they call the cops on?


 

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#31 General Comment

Equipment cost

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

Which repair/service do you think will cost more?

1.The A/C recharge done correctly with a machine that recovers/recycles/recharges the system?

2.The 14oz can attached to a rubber hose?

Which computer diagnostic do you think is accurate?

1.The FREE diagnostic done at parts stores with a code scanner?

2.The proper diagnosis of the OBD system done with a scanner that runs actual tests on the ECM/PCM/TCM/BCM?

Which starting/charging system test do you think is being done correctly?

1.The one with a multimeter and a load tester, both of which can only check voltage at the battery?

2.The proper starter/charging system test done with the correct equipment that checks amperage draw/charge, voltage, rectifier/diode function, noise(static)?

The answers are simple. Proper equipment costs money, and that cost is made up by the customer. The OP didn't want to pay anything. She complains 7 times about the diagnostic fee she agreed to. Then, she believes the shop should resell her the parts at his cost...no markup.

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#32 Consumer Comment

What the diagnostic equipment cost is irrelevant...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

Even if the broken down gas station used a $50,000 piece of equipment to check an alternator output, it doesn't clear this up and the test does not require anything more then a basic voltmeter. As mentioned here time and again, you start the car and see if it is putting out a steady 13.8 volts +/-5% with accys on, if not..alternator bad. I could teach a 6 year old how to do this in a few minute.

Again, nothing expensive or sophisticated is required to check an alternator or battery, and it does only take a few minutes, I do this almost every day.

What does not sit right here, is the service employee telling this poster to go to a particular shop he said would FIX the car after hours, and that the employee told Mr. Nguyen the car had a problem with the alternator.

All the mechanic needed to do, was quote a price for the alternator before touching the car, and explain to the customer that in this price breakdown is diagnoses to verify.

If the alternator could not be replaced then and there, the service employee should have just given her a jump, and been on his way. The poster was already aware that the car would run for a while with the alternator problem until it died again.

As far as bill d, the $150.00 is a RETAIL price...I agree the mechanic should make money, no one works for free but call up 25 shops and ask how much to replace a Honda Civic alternator..you'd find most would estimate $200.00 or around that price.

The real scam here, was having this poster go to some shady broken down gas station with the implications the car would be repaired, then not being told an estimate for an alternator repair would cost that was not going to get done regardless at the time, hence being swindled into paying the "diagnostic" fee whether she approved the repair or not.

It is not the way I do business, and would avoid any place that takes advantage of people like this. He would have probably charge you 300 and install a refurbished alternator anyhow.

I feel it is right that the poster was reimbursed, and lodged a complaint here to warn others.
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#33 General Comment

Why shops call cops

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

It has NOTHING to do with your PAST. It has EVERYTHING to do with the PRESENT. You were attempting to defraud the shop, and he was not going to allow that to happen.

ALL shops have a minimum charge, and that usually entails the diagnosis of what is wrong. NO legit mechanic is going to care what another person thinks the problem is. He is going to diagnose it himself, and you admit you agreed to the diagnostic charge of $65.

You then decided he should do the work without making a profit on the part(never going to happen), and he should not get paid for the diagnostic work. BTW, it takes more than 5 minutes, and more than a load test. The diagnostic equipment used to PROPERLY test batteries, starters, and alternators costs hundreds of dollars.

Guess who pays for it.

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#34 General Comment

to the author-2

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

based on your last post--so in other words he called the police and you bailed out of there before the oinkers arrived--i wonder why??--miracoulsy your car started for you to bail??---making assumptions of him assuming you were previously in trouble with the law has no relevance---to ronny g--she said she had it diagnosed somewhere else--if she did why not fix it there??--this mechanic had her sign the paper to secure funds for his time--again this fee would of been erased if work was performed--if someone came to me saying they need something cause they heard from who knows where what it needs--i will look at it myself--if he just installed the alternator and it didn't work this ripoff report would be about the incompetatnt asain guy who didn't speak english doesn't know how to fix cars--although asians cannot drive-they can fix cars---don't even get me started on normal white people---in any case--if the alternator was 150$--roughly the labor for this is 1.0 hour--most places charge around 100 for labor and then there is tax---this seemed like a reasonabl;e price to me--so once again--it is her that is the rip off--i am officially done with this thread cause it really is so stupid
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#35 Author of original report

Don't Forget...the Mechanic Calling the Police.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

After I declined having the car fixed, I felt threatened and wanted to call the police. I told Mr. Nguyen that I feel like calling the cops because the situation had gotten very uncomfortable. The mechanic said that he would call the police instead. I didn't take him seriously. He may have thought that I had a run-in with the law previously. I wasn't really concerned if he called the cops or not. All I wanted to do was to get away from "that mess" with the 8-year-old daughter.

I never had a problem with the police, and nobody ever called the cops on me. I never had a problem with the law, ever! The mechanic had hoped that I did have "some problems" in the past and would, therefore, shy away and pay. He thought I might be vulnerable!!! BUT I WASN'T

 

 

 

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#36 Consumer Comment

Let me again make CLEAR...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

..the estimate should have been for an alternator replacement, not a diagnosis, UNLESS the customer came in requesting a diagnosis.

This report should not really be a debate over what a mechanic has a "right" to charge for a diagnosis or not..since it is evident some shops and autoparts stores will diagnose an alternator or battery condition free off charge, and some don't.

The report is about whether or not this poster was scammed by a mechanic and ACER employee for needing a jump start and being pressured into bringing it to a mechanic who could replace the alternator after hours.and then do nothing but charge her for an unnecessary and unrequested diagnosis, and not be willing and able to get her alternator replaced at the time..and request a very high price.

Not for me to tell anyone what to charge..but it is a $200.00 job to most honest mechanics..those alternators go for around 150 bucks RETAIL and are very easy to replace. Jobs are generally quoted by time, or difficulty level, a Honda Civic is in not what is typically placed into the high dollar maintenance category, quite the contrary.

As well, not give an estimate of what an alternator replacement would cost regardless of what any so called "elaborate" diagnosis concludes, and stiff the customer at some broken down gas station with her daughter in a threatening situation.

It goes beyond just what a mechanic can or will charge for checking the voltage output of an alternator..this seems more to me like an orchestrated scheme to take advantage of vulnerable people (mothers etc) who call for help due to an automotive breakdown, and hoping the less they now about automobiles, the better.
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#37 Consumer Comment

To bill d...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

You drew first blood. The implications of the first line of your reply and I quote "please stick to the bank rip off reports" is that I have no place lodging a rebuttal here.

I have a right to rebut any report I wish to. It just so happens that I am an EXPERT regarding auto electronics, so I have the credentials, which should be self evident without me having to boast about it, to give my opinion regardless. I am also a victim of unethical bank tactics and swindles, which is irreverent to this report..YOU are the one who brought it up...not me.

As far as this topic, it can only be based on the information left by the OP.

1) The car didn't start after dinner.

2) She called ACER because her local mechanic was not in town and has already diagnosed a bad alternator, AND that the ACER employee who arrived in an SUV and not a tow truck, also "diagnosed" this as a bad alternator, and gave her a jump.

3) The ACER employee "INSISTED" she take the car to a repairman in Camarillo.

4) The ACER service employee "insisted" that the repairman at the Carmen Auto Center can fix the car after hours.

5) The vehicle was follwed by the "employee" to the mechanic to have the alternator replaced.

6) The mechanic had her sign an invoice, checked the alternator (5 minutes) and then told the poster he can't even replace it now, and it will be $300 if and when he can locate a Honda Civic alternator (Yeah, those are hard to find). The mechanic made the poster feel threatened, who was with her young daughter and decided to take off rather then deal with an argument in front of her daughter or be ripped off. There was no reason for this mechanic to "diagnosis" what was already diagnosed and determined/concluded, unless a written estimate was given before touching the vehicle.

That about sums it up. The mechanic was informed the vehicle was diagnosed. The mechanic was supposed to replace the alternator, and give an estimate before starting work on the car. The mechanic did nothing but try to EXTORT 65.00 dollars from a vulnerable mother with her child in a vehicle that needed a jump and was diagnosed with a bad alternator, with no intent on replacing the alternator "after hours" so this customer could be on her merry way. BOTH the service "employee" AND the mechanic, are in on this..and it is abominable and no better then then a mugging..

Every stage of this SCAM smells of SCAM bottom line. And it gives a bad name to those of us who conduct ETHICAL and honest fair dealings with our customers, who do not understand auto electronics or electronic principles. But at least this poster understood the principle of what a SCAM is..and fortunately was able to escape and be reimbursed for being subject and kept her daughter from being witness to an a*hole rip off scamming "mechanic".
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#38 General Comment

to ronny g

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

first off--when i said for you to stick to the bank rip off reports i did not think you would take offense to this as it seems to of--for my comment i apologize--however-there was no reason for you to mention anything about my mistake in my banking--after all we are talking about an amount of 12$!!--but i guess my mistake gives you credibility by making me look like a dumbass--this is fine---with this i must say i have lost respect for you---but based on your post(before i responded)--it appears you did not fully read nor understand what the original poster said---she was so sure it was the alternator--she could have asked how much is it for an alternator?--she could of also insisted to have someone else give her a ride to "her" mechanic to fix it??--but these are all if's---anyways-she signed the paper to "check" the alternator-not fix it for 65$--this 65$ sometimes more is charged everywhere-and also taken off the bill---is this her first time in a shop??---second off the price she received after confirmation that it was the alternator was fair--the alternator on my car is 450$-and that is juts the part--luckily i am an auot mechanic and can fix it myself--on top of this on my car you can get the voltage regulator(which is inside the alternator-for those who don't know) which cost me 55$(this has happened to me once)-so i fixed my alternator issue for 55$---she also said she had the alternator fixed for around 200$---you know wht i have seen--shops charge you for a new alternator--i take the alternator out of the car-they send it out and replace the voltage regulator and pulley and spray paint it to look new--then they charge for a "new" alternator--it would not surprise me if something like this happened to get a 200$ price----in any case it just appears you did not read and understand--but you do appear to read and understand that the banks are a total rip off
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#39 Consumer Comment

Actually, I did miss a few things..

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

I did not pay enough attention to the OPs rebuttals. The vehicle was not towed in, it was jump started. The "assumption" it seems by everyone is that this is a bad alternator. It could have also just been a bad battery, they do wear out you know.

Either way, to test if the battery is good is easy too, and generally free of charge at any autoparts store. A load test. You don't even need any more then a meter and a charger for that either. You simply charge the battery and turn on the lights and read if the battery is holding 12v or greater for a length of time with the same meter you can use for testing the alternator. You can use a load tester as well that any mechanic should have..it's just a large resistor that places a load on the battery.

So there is a chance it didn't even need an alternator and a false diagnoses was given..also a rip off either way.

However to give the benefit of the doubt, the OP claims this was already diagnosed as a bad alternator, the service employee seemed to have diagnosed it, and the mechanic was informed of this as well when the vehicle was taken in. So still the mechanic should have quoted for an alternator replacement before touching the car. If it was me the car was brought to, I would have checked both the battery and alternator for free, but explained to the customer the price for a battery replacement and alternator replacement before diagnosing anything so I know I would not be wasting my time, or the customers time and money. That is how it's supposed to work.

But what the OP states is true, there are plenty of cases where the alternator can be bad, but still supply a charge. When the alternator is placed under heavier loads such as the blower for HVAC, or the lights, it then will start to discharge the battery as the alternator fails to keep up with the demands. A jump will often allow the vehicle to operate for miles, as even the road service employee stated(10 miles) and with a good charge and low load conditions a vehicle can sometimes last for many hours or days with a bad alternator, providing it is putting out a minimal charge.

No need to thank me for the battery/charging system technical training, I don't charge for advice, or measuring voltage of a battery or alternator. I give an estimate for a COMPLETE job, make sure the customer is aware before touching the car, and charge a fair price accordingly. If the customer requests diagnoses only, that is a different story.


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#40 Consumer Comment

Robert makes some valid points as well...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

but I think he misunderstood my initial reply.

What I meant to imply by saying a $9.99 meter form Walmart can diagnose an alternator is that it doesn't take any expensive or "elaborate" test equipment or procedures which is used as grounds why it cost $200.00 to have a basic trouble code reset done on a Mercedes Benz. I didn't mean anyone can do this themselves, although any back yard mechanic could do this in a few minute tops.

You start the car, put the meter to the battery + and -, with the meter set on 0-20v DC range, and see if it increases the voltage to specs. A Honda Civic in normal specs will have a battery voltage of around 12.5-12.7v, when running  14-14.5v, and around 13.8+/-  5% with lights and accessories on. It took longer to type this then the actual "diagnosis" takes. If these readings are not up to specs, the alternator is suspect, since that is basically all the charging system in that car consists of.

But it is irrelevant, as I agree they should charge for a diagnosis in most cases, although as stated, many shops including autoparts stores would do this for free. It's that quick and easy. If you ask a mechanic to diagnose an unknown problem that is something else. The poster stated diagnosis was already done.

What is relevant to this post, and I think anyone reasonable would agree is apparent, is that the car was brought in for an alternator replacement, and she was not quoted the full price until the "elaborate" 5 minute diagnosis was done, that was actually unnecessary and only verified that the alternator was bad, as the mechanic was told when the car came in. I don't agree she should have took off like that as the work order she signed did imply a "check whatever system", but nonetheless it was an unethical tactic and should be made public. And I still feel $65.00 is a steep charge just to measure output voltage of the alternator. She should have been quoted the price of the complete job before the car was touched, and then if the mechanic thinks something else is wrong, to request permission to conduct further diagnosis, and give an estimate thereof.
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#41 Consumer Comment

It's obvious...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

That this poster does not understand auto electronics..hence was it was even easier for her to be taken advantage of.

It is also obvious the mechanic put the car on a charger since it came in dead this would have to be done before the alternator was checked anyhow, or to drive the car into the service area.

But once the battery was charged...that is why she was able to start the car and drive off..a honda civic could drive a substantial length of time on straight battery power before the car will shut off again once the battery is depleted.

No one is claiming the poster was perfect here..but I can't see why if she had the car towed there requesting an alternator..why the mechanic did not tell her it cost 300 bucks for parts labor and diagnosis first. Oh wait..I can see why..so she would be trapped into paying the $65 diagnosis whether she would approve the $300 job or not. Common tactic shady mechanics use on people who have breakdowns and are vulnerable.

And this is most likely why they reimbursed the $65.00 after a few days of investigation.
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#42 General Comment

Say WHAT?........

AUTHOR: Adolph - (USA)

 Im surprised no one picked up on this  quote from the OP:

(Quote) I knew as long as I drove the car, the battery gets charged even with a faulty alternator

Really? Pray tell where the current comes from for the ignition and other systems when youre driving. Youre dead wrong!

.

Oh, silly me. That actually could be done.

 

That said, it surely sounds impractical to me. That would require a VERY long extension cord reaching back to a battery charger. One would hope your trip was less than the length of the extension cord, eh?  .

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#43 Consumer Comment

There was a RipOff....

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

The OP said that they already knew it was the Alternator BEFORE this happened, as they had it diagnosed at a local mechanic.  So why didn't they replace it when it was diagnosed?  That is really here nor there, but it is an interesting question.

The employee insisted that I take the car to a repairman in Camarillo. I didn't agree with him and told me that I wanted to take it to my repairman. He refused. He told me that he would stay behind me while driving the car for around two miles to the Carmen Auto Center. He insisted that the repairman at the Carmen Auto Center can fix the car after hours.

- If anything in this entire report is a RipOff it is that statement.  As soon as the Tow Company(which was probably under contract with AAA) said that.  The OP should have been on the phone with AAA insisting that they get another person out there.  And this is probably the reason that in the end they reimbursed him for the fee.  Not because the mechanic was wrong, but because the tow company was wrong.

Although another good question is that if the OP knew that it would make it home. Then once the guy jumped the car, why did he just not go on home.  Instead of being "followed" to the mechanic.

As to people who said that the Diagnostic fee was a RipOff because it is so easy to do.  Well not everyone one knows a lot about cars.  You can tell them to go to a store and buy a $10 voltmeter, it will take only 5 minutes..etc.  But if they have no idea how to use them it does them no good.  Just about every mechanic charges a diagnostic fee, and the $65 does not sound outside of a normal fee, in fact it sounds a little low.  However, if you agree to do the services there they don't charge the fee, and according to the OP that would have been the case here as well.   It also would not be the first time when a customer comes into a shop saying they want x,y, and z replaced.  But when that does not fix the problem they get mad at the mechanic because they actually needed a,b, and c fixed.  Hence the reason for diagnostics.

Also, for ones who said that they need to be given an estimate.  Well the OP did have an estimate of the Diagnosis fee.  From their own posting they said

The form also had an estimated amount of $65 on it with a description "check ... system."

- It didn't say replace alternator, it didn't say change Battery.  It said CHECK (electrical/charging???) system.  Could there have been a language barrier in when he was talking..perhaps.  But there does not seem to be a language barrier between the word "check" and the word "fix".

In the end this all could have been avoided if the OP actually took care of the problem he knew existed WHEN it was diagnosed originally.

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#44 Consumer Comment

To bill d

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

You really should not tell me what reports to stick to. And you should stop making autopays with the wrong account numbers so you don't get NSF fees, that is bordering on fraud and is the same thing as bouncing a check, so be more careful.

I do auto electric as one of my fields so I have a bit of knowledge on how to "diagnose" an alternator.

There is no reason to charge this customer 65 dollars for a diagnoses. The mechanic was taking advantage of this customer.


I will admit the customer should not have approved anything until they fully understood what they were being charged for, but before the car was touched it would have been more appropriate for the mechanic to let the customer know what they charge to replace an alternator, the mechanic was trying to trap this customer into paying 65 dollars whether she could afford the entire job or not, common scam. Take advantage of people when the car breaks down.

If this customer for example had the car towed in and said "I don't know what happened, it just died on me", then I can understand charging just for a diagnosis and then present an estimate. But when the customer came in asking for an alternator job, the mechanic should have gave a quote for an alternator replacement and all diagnoses fees before committing the customer to an unnecessary diagnoses fee, that is way too high in price as is just to check output voltage. Most autoparts stores will do this free of charge and I would of as well.

A ripoff is in the eye of the beholder but basically if you pay too much for something, or were deceived, swindled, manipulated due to language barrier, or taken advantage of during an emergency, it is all a good old fashioned form of a classic rip off.




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#45 General Comment

to ronny g

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

please stick to the bank rip off reports---first off--this diag charge is everywhere--second--she did sign a paper saying 65 to check whatever--if she decided to fix the alternator this 65 would have been minused from the bill---she wanted him to look at it and thats it---if she knew it was the alternator she could have asked him right off the bat-how much will you charge for an alternator before he looked at the car--based on how she is talking--it seems she just thought he was incapable cause he was asian(at least that is how i perceived it)--even if it only takes 2 minutes this charge still applies-other places call this is a service fee--on top of this he did offer a reasonable price for the alternator after he confirmed it was in facat the alternator
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#46 Consumer Comment

The OP was TOTALLY RIPPED OFF...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

There is no expensive "diagnoses" required to check an alternator on a Honda Civic, it is like the simplest electrical system made. It also has an internal regulator..an all in one charging system. A $9.99 voltmeter from Walmart is more then enough diagnostic equipment needed to check the alternators output voltage.

If the customer dropped the car off requesting diagnosis, she should have had a written estimate for such diagnosis and the mechanic knows d**n well this is the LAW. And a "call or contact with estimate before preforming job" if the cost was unknown or not agreed to in writing before diagnoses..this is the law.
To check an alternator in a Honda is a 2 minute job tops and should have been included in the price of the job..verify, replace, check that it works when complete.

The customer came in asking for the price to replace the alternator, was given a price for the job in writing, approved the price..and was ripped off hardcore.

The only part of this report that is questionable..is in the title where it states "making believe English is a difficult language", for many it is unfortunately..but this does not excuse a ripoff, the universal language. It also seems fairness and reason is "difficult" in this country..a shame.
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#47 Consumer Comment

Been there

AUTHOR: Paul - (U.S.A.)

I have been in a similiar situation.  A repair shop charged me $120 for a diagnostic test that probably took them all of 5 minutes.  I paid the bill but felt ripped off.  They wanted to do repairs that would of cost hundreds of dollars.  The $120 cost would have been subtracted from the total.  They wanted $400 to replace the EGR valve among other things.  A $90 part held by 2 bolts that is easy to replace and takes less than 5 minutes.  I thought that I could trust this shop since I had been going there for more than 10 years so it was a learning experience.  Do not blindly trust any mechanic.  And get a free diagnostic test at your local Axxxzone.
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#48 General Comment

rebuttal to jim

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

jim--you are an idiot---firsst off--everywhere charges a diagnostic fee(if they decline repair)----second off--you do not take the alternator out of the car just to test it--would you take the alternator out of a 2006 nissan quest just to test it?--what if they decline the repair?(as the author did)--it seems to me you are one intelligent individual--probably even a friend of the original author---if there is anyone else as dumb as you--i wil not be surprised
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#49 General Comment

Diagnostic fee

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

The diagnostic fee is charged by all service industries, including auto repair. Time is money. The OP wasted the mech's time, and proves it by claiming she doesn't understand why the shop planned on making a profit.

 

 

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#50 General Comment

All Y'all armchair slanderers

AUTHOR: Jim - (U.S.A.)

The Mechanic tried to ripoff the customer, there's no such thing as a $65.00 "To look at" fee

For that price he should have removed the altrnator, put it on a bench tester (Electric motor driven Amp tester), and thoroughly tested it, HE DID NOT it was a scam from the start, and she did exatly right refusing to pay and leaving, then the a*****e ran after her and threatened her, that proves it was a scam.

Now knock off the uninformed blather and slander, she was RIGHT, end of subject.

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#51 Author of original report

Coin a New Term...Threatened.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

I see what you mean.


It seems to you that I tried to rip off the mechanic. To be honest with youl...I felt more threatened than ripped off. I just wanted to leave with my daughter and not witness a big argument.


My daughter is growing up fairly sheltered, and I want to keep the status quo.


Thanks for all of your feedback! I realized that I filed my complaint with the wrong website. There should be a site callled ThreatenedReport.com.


 


 

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#52 Consumer Comment

Simple

AUTHOR: Flynrider - (USA)

"An auto mechanic who insisted that I pay him $65.00 because I declined having the car fixed by him. He called the police. He tried to rip me off and thought that I wanted to rip him off!"

  You seem to be reasonably intelligent.  Why is it that you cannot understand that (by your own admission) you agreed to pay $65 for a diagnosis if you chose not to have the mechanic fix your car?   Surely the sherriff's deputy explained this to you as well.  From your original post :

"I signed the form in order to give him permission to open the hood and start working on the car. The form also had an estimated amount of $65 on it with a description "check ... system."

  Why do you keep repeating that he tried to rip you off when it's obvious to all that you ran out on a bill you agreed to pay?

  The reason you're getting responses to your post is that you keep claiming to have been ripped off when in fact you weren't.

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#53 Author of original report

Personal Attacks from another Consumer.

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

RipoffReport.com is a website that lists experiences consumers have had. I was referred to this website for consumer protection.

Why is it that you attack me whenever I give factual statements?

 

 

 

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#54 General Comment

to the author

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

face it---you are still a rip off artist---imagine an ac guy comes to your house cause your air is broke--they charge 80+ to look at it/diagnose---if you decide you don't want to repair it--then what--do you leave your house--how would you get away with that---he wanted 65 cause he performed work on your car(even if it was 5 minutes)--the work he performed?--diagnosing---sure you will say but he knew the alternator was bad--but again--if he put it in at your orders--you would b***h at him for not fixing it right or something--as a mechanic--i don't care what someone else said--if i will fix it--lets see what i say--and it may be the same as the other guy said---here is an axample--when i worked at firestone--i had a customer that always asked for me to work his car---one day he got stuck with a dead battery and went to sears to get a new one--at sears they told him he needed an alternator--so he came in and asked the manager for an alternator--i checked the car out and he had 13.5 volts--it was charging--he did not need an alternator--i told the manger that it doesn't need an alternator but the a hole already ordered it and told me to "just shut up and do it"---sometimes an honest mechanic can't be honest when working for others--but this is an example as to why you need to check it yourself----as for the auto club guy--if you did not agree and you really wanted to get to your service center--you could of just told the guy to go f u c k himself and attempt to drive yourself--after all--it is your alternator bad--not a water pump and you are overheating or somethng----but again--the whole point--you wanted someone to work your car and not pay them--you should have known it was going to be a couple hundred dollars---you also could of asked the guy before he looked at it how much is an alternator on this car if you were to replace it--if you would of heard 300 the first second--then maybe you could of juts left and he would not have performed the service
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#55 Author of original report

A Ripoff Is Not Just Dollars And Cents!

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

A consider a ripoff not just getting more money.

An Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee took me to a back of a building which was supposed to be an auto repair shop. I really doubt if it is an official repair shop!

An auto mechanic who knew good English but acted as if he didn't understand me, especially if the information communicated was crucial. How convenient!

An Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee who insisted that I take my car to a mechanic I don't know. I was already set up for a ripoff!

An auto mechanic who spent 20 minutes (actually 5 minutes) running a diagnostic and already knew what was wrong with the car before the test. It wasn't rocket science to find out it was the alternator!

An auto mechanic who insisted that I pay him $65.00 because I declined having the car fixed by him. He called the police. He tried to rip me off and thought that I wanted to rip him off!

An Emergency Road Service employee and a mechanic with selective English skills who both wanted to save my life (plus my daughter's) after hours because my car broke down. I should just be thankful to these two men and get ripped off!!!

 

 

 

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#56 General Comment

Master Mechanic here

AUTHOR: Jim - (U.S.A.)

The "Diagnosis" should take no more than 5 minutes (If you know what you're doing)

First use a voltmeter to check battery voltage, if 12.5 or higher, there's a loose wire or dirty connection. If lower than 12 Volts the battery is low (Most folks say dead, not so, just low)

Second, find out WHY, to do this put a battery charger on the engine's battery and see if the engine will start, if not start checking wire  clamps and connections, If all are good, start the engine and again check the voltage at the battery terminals.

Above 13 volts, the alternator is charging and the battery is probably bad. Under 13 volts, the alternator is not working

Simple yes? Takes about 5 minutes and is pretty foolproof.

There ARE other tests, but none so quick and easy.

Tools needed one voltage tester (NOT A LIGHT, must show volts)

One battery charger (Jumper cables work fine too)

Knowing what you're doing (Years and much training)

Why does this work, well a few misconceptions must be cleared up here

First the battery is fully charged at 12.5 volts and dead at 12.0 volts or below

IN THAT HALF VOLT RANGE THE BATTERY HOLDS POWER.

Now to Charge the 12 volt battrey the alternator MUST supply 13.5 Volts or higher, if the alternator only puts out 12 V (or so) IT'S NOT CHARGING THE BATTERY.

Pretend it's a Pump, like a pump it MUST Push more than the Tank (Battery) holds to fill it up.

So the system works like this 13.5 (Or higher ) Running.(Pumping power IN)

12.5 Holding (Not running)

Starting (Heavy drain) 11.5 Volts (PULLING POWER OUT)

(While the starter's actualy running)

Simple, when you know what's supposed to happen, isn't it?

Mstrmech

 

 

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#57 Author of original report

You Have To Get The Whole Picture

AUTHOR: Irmgard Williams - (United States of America)

I understand that you feel that I am the ripoff. Let me dig a bit deeper and give you the entire picture.

After dinner with my daughter, the car didn't start. I called the Auto Club Emergency Road Service, and he arrived in an SUV...not a tow truck. I was in Camarillo, but my local mechanic is in another town. The employee ran a diagnostic and told me that it needs a new alternator. I told him that I had been to my local mechanic and he said the same running a diagnostic.

I asked the Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee to give my car a jump start, so I can drive it to my local repairman. He said that the car would not make it 10 miles on the freeway. I knew as long as I drove the car, the battery gets charged even with a faulty alternator.

The employee insisted that I take the car to a repairman in Camarillo. I didn't agree with him and told me that I wanted to take it to my repairman. He refused. He told me that he would stay behind me while driving the car for around two miles to the Carmen Auto Center. He insisted that the repairman at the Carmen Auto Center can fix the car after hours.

Now, the problem with Mr. Tommy Nguyen: I understand that the estimated amount gets subtracted from the actual cost of the repair. It was clear to me that I didn't have to pay $365.21 but $300.21. I felt $300.21 was too high...and it was. I got the car fixed for around $200.00. An alternator is not a big deal to get replaced!

And, yes, you are correct. If I had the skill and knowledge to fix the car myself, I would have done it! But I don't. That's why an Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee and a mechanic can rip me off.

By the way, the Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee got relocated and cannot work in Camarillo anymore. I have been told that he got "tired" of working in Camarillo. He had done it for two years.

 

 

 

 

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#58 General Comment

Sounded like a good deal to me

AUTHOR: Gary - (U.S.A.)

You should have taken advantage of what this guy offered you. The price was actually a decent one. You did not state what you paid elsewhere and I would be curious to know. Also, what replacement part did you get for the money you paid? was it new, rebuit or remanufactured? I think you owe the business owner an apology.
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#59 General Comment

to the author-you are the rip off artist!

AUTHOR: Bill d - (U.S.A.)

first off--if you have a local repairman--why do you not just go to him first???--right there you look dumb--second of all--why did you have it towed if the car worked?--did you not try to start it after?---anyway--i will give you credit that it should only take 2 minutes to check an alternator--but as a mechanic--other people can be wrong--what if he just said it was the alternator and it was not--you would be bitchin at him--so he wanted to check himself--but aGAIN--i give you credit that it should not take 45 minutes and run unecessary tests--it is also true around 5 parts stores close and it would of been hard to find parts--in any case he told you it would cost 300$ to replace the alternator--this to me seems reasonable--if you have a problem with this-do it yourself and buy your own parts--since you declined the repair he still had to charge you the 65 to look at it--again--just cause someone else says it does not mean it is--i am also sure he would of minused the 65 from the 300--if you have an ac guy come to your house--they charge you a 80 fee--if it cost say 500 to fix your ac they take off the 80---basically--you had someone look at your car--and you didn't pay them when you declined service--you are the rip off--try doing that to an ac repairman--you also did not mention how much the other shop replaced the alternator for?--it seems you are the rip off artist
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#60 Consumer Comment

You tried to rip off the mehanic.

AUTHOR: Flynrider - (USA)

"I had been informed by my husband, my local auto repairman, and by the Auto Club Emergency Road Service employee (Auto Club of Southern California) that my Honda Civic has a problem with the alternator."

  Did all of these people run a diagnostic test on your car?   Anyone can guess what the problem is.  Sometimes they can be right and sometimes not.   A good mechanic will run diagnostic tests to be sure what the problem is before he starts replacing parts.   $65 for a diagnostic is actually a good deal if you're not getting the car fixed by the person who performs it.  Most dealers will charge you closer to $100 for that service.  Real mechanics do not just start replacing parts without knowing exactly what the problem is.   If those other people had guessed wrong, you would have been whining that this mechanic tried to rip you off by replacing something that wasn't broken.

  You admit you agreed to pay for the diagnostic on the work order then skipped out.  It's no surpise that the Sherriff's Dept. told you to go back and pay what you owed.  I'll bet they told you they were going to arrest you for theft of services if you didn't.  The auto club may have reimbursed you to shut you up, but the I'm sure the deputy clearly explained how you were in the wrong.

  By the way, $300 for a diagnostic, parts and labor is a reasonable price for an alternator replacement on a Civic.

   I see reports of obvious ripoffs all the time on this site.   This one is certainly an exception.   This shop should have written a ripoff report about you.

 

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