The Visa charge reference # xxxxxxx , dated Feb. 23/2007 is being disputed. The vendor did not change the transmission oil and filter on my car. Instead, after trying, without success, to sell an unnecessary, major transmission job, put me in a position to allow him to proceed and change the oil and filter, while the transmission oil pan was removed. But, the pan was put back in such a way (major leakage minutes after leaving the shop) to lure me back to the shop. The transmission pan on the car did not leak before it was taken to this outfit and was leaking minutes afterwards.
In addition, later inspection revealed that the mechanic had not changed the filter but charged me for it. (what's the point of changing the filter if the customer's coming right back!!). This case is an attempted business fraud and legal avenues are being pursued. The complete description of events is provided below.
The absolutely pathetic workmanship in re-installing the transmission oil pan and that it would leak 2 quarts over three block leads to believing that the car was expected back, shortly. Seeing a major transmission fluid stream from under the car, as it was the case here, panics un-trained customer and leads him back to this shop for specialized help!!. The fraud comes from charging for new filter and not installing one.
On Friday February 23, 2007 I drove my car to a Cottmann Transmission shop located at 12641 - Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77077. This shop is registered under Westheim Cottman Transmission Inc. The objective was to check out a small noise that the transmission seemed to make when the car would shift into lower gear. I had talked to the Salesman, Mark Hamm, a few days before, on the phone and he had told me that they offered a Free 21 point check out of the transmission. They call it their 21 Plus Service.
When I talked to him, he was quite insistent in bringing the car in right away. He continued asking as to why I couldn't bring the car in there and then. He mentioned something about having a free rack available. I had to explain that I was at the office and the car was at home and Friday was the most suitable time for me. He then asked as to what time I would bring it in on Friday, and practically was pressing to get a definitive appointment.
Upon arrival, on Friday, we were greeted by Mark Hamm, the Salesman and he proceeded to take our information and then he checked the transmission, in situ, without driving it to see the problem. He told us that he could see there was a problem with the first and reverse. He then said that he was going to do the 21 point free check. We agreed.
They put the car on the rack while the Salesman volunteered to give us a shop tour. Few minutes later, the Salesman said that they have lowered the transmission oil pan and are ready to discuss our problem. He showed me the pan and pointed to some what he termed as metal shavings.
I have changed transmission oils on my various cars, including this car, many on many cars and all I saw was normal precipitates that accumulates when a lot of gears rotate for 3 years or 36000 miles. He said that the transmission is falling apart and needs to be fixed immediately!! I didn't see it that way and started disbelieving him.
The Salesman continued his insistence on the repair. He couldn't tell me what he saw as being run and certainly, how much it would cost to fix it. He even pointed out to many faults such as the motor oil pan leak (which there was none) and CV joints and the front suspension!! At this point, I told him that I liked the transmission oil pan to be re-installed and the car be taken off the rack. He kept insisting and at one point he asked me what is keeping you from doing the repair?.
I stayed firm since I did not believe that there was any major problem with the transmission and the Salesman's approach was quite pushy, unprofessional and annoying. He eventually reluctantly gave up. He said that we should change the oil and filter while the pan was down and that would cost $69.95. Trying to be nice, I agreed.
I then went back to the office, and I saw the Salesman go to the mechanic and have a private conversation. Later, the car was delivered to us. We paid for the new oil and filter and pan gasket. The car was moved to the front of the office, the Salesman made sure to tell me not to drive the car too far!! I thanked him and left.
I drove the car about three blocks and stopped at a store for some errands. I, then, drove the car across the street to a restaurant for lunch. After 45 minutes, I went to car to head to the airport for another errand. I saw a large puddle of transmission fluid under the car. I got under the car and saw the fluid was coming out of all around the pan, where the gasket is. I started the car and noticed that the car would not drive.
I called the Salesman and explained the situation. He quickly offered his expert advice that since they put new transmission fluid in the car, probably whatever that was holding up the transmission gave up!!! He said that he would send a truck to tow the car into the shop. I agreed. A few minutes later, I called him back and cancelled the tow. I told the Salesman that if there were something internally wrong with the transmission, the oil would not flow out of the pan. We would hear noises, grinds, etc. and that it was quite a coincidence that fluid starts leaking out of the pan gasket right after their work on the car. Especially since the car had not literally gone more than three blocks!!
By now, convinced of the malice in the intentions, I added that if there were to be any transmission work on the car, it won't be at his shop.
I left the car at the parking lot and found a ride home. The next day, I went back to the car with some transmission fluid and tightened up the relatively loose pan bolts. After putting transmission fluid, the leakage was considerably slower. I drove the car to Katy and left it at the parking lot by the transmission shop near my house.
The next day, I had them drop the pan and inspect the filter. They reported that the filter was an old filter. I asked them to put a new one in and give me the old filter. They did. They, then, changed the fluid, installed a new gasket and delivered the car, leak free. The bill for their services is attached. I am in possession of the old filter. I have the name of the owner, Manager and the mechanic at the second shop. All can be contacted to validate the fact that the pan was leaking and the filter found inside was old.
I am happy to have made the two stops after leaving this Cottman shop. Otherwise, I would have been dealing with a major problem on the Houston toll-way leading to the Airport, my next destination.
I believe that this service would have jeopardized my safety and my son's, who was with me during the entire episode, on the city expressway. Te interim correction of the problem on the expressway would not have been as easy as it was in a parking lot. The second day, I spent a good bit of time and effort tightening the pan bolts under the car that I had to raise with a jack to get under. Consider having to do that with trucks flying by at over 70 mph. That is a serious safety concern that this shop handed to me. .
For this, I refuse to pay the charges on my Visa and intend to pursue the matter further, beginning with the Metropolitan Houston Better Business Bureau, as well as Cottman's Main Headquarters. .
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