When driving my wife's SUV I thought I felt something unusual with the brakes. With the car being driven by my pregnant wife with our 2 year old daughter in it I wasted no time in trying to make sure everything was okay. Since I constantly hear Just Brakes ad spots on local radio I mistakenly assumed they would be trustworthy. The old adage about assumption almost rang true.
When my wife dropped the car off for inspection at the Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth Georgia location within a couple of hours we received an estimate of 913.00 plus tax. Now this was about 900% higher than their ads suggested (99.80 if memory serves for pads and machining rotors). I'm by no means a mechanic but thought that seemed awfully high for a brake job.
I called the shop myself and spoke to the individual who provided the estimate and he began streaming off the list of problems as if he had done it a hundred times. It honestly felt like he was reading from a script. There were several insertsions of fear tactics - "wheel locking up on the highway", "axle falling off", "it would be unprofessional and bad business for me to let you drive with the brakes in this condition." I immediately smelled a rat and requested that he fax over the list of repair needs to me as I was unable to fully grasp the description of the problems as they were coming at me too fast to comprehend. I received a fax written not on the service ticket as you would normally see it but on a sheet of plain paper. I thought that odd in itself since I've always received a breakdown of recommnded services on a service ticket at the mechanic's shop.
I decided to do some further research online and found dozens of similar reports at various locations of this company across the country with virtually all of them telling a similar story - $1200 here, $600 there. After reading the nightmare stories I decided I to go with my instinct and take the car to a dealership for a second look.
Another interesting note - when I dropped by to pick up the SUV the man at the counter was on the phone with another customer explaining that the estimate charge was $1200 for the repair work. After he finished his call I explained to him (which turned out to be the same person I had spoken with earlier) that I was going to take it somewhere else for a second opinion he then decided to tell me that "there were no safety issues and you don't have to do all of the repairs now". Funny because I was pretty sure my family's death was eminent based on the phone call. Ironically when I picked the truck up (an hour later as he said it would take that long to put everything back together) I heard another $1100 quote being issued on the phone. It was all starting to seem quite surreal at this point.
I stopped by the dealership 45 minutes after I had dropped it off to retrieve something I had left in the car and they were just putting the wheels back on because in the mechanic's judgement the entire breaking system was in "great shape" and needed no repairs. The pads were not even half worn, rotors were quite smooth, calipers in great shape. The only thing that was even slightly amiss was a little plastic boot was not correctly replaced on the rear brake which was corrected in 1 minute by the tech.
So I went from roughly a completely bogus $1000 repair job to a $0 repair job by trusting my instincts. I have NEVER made a complaint about a business or service provider but I thought this level of attempted fraud was worth mentioning. I sure wish consumer protection meant as much to the stations as the advertising dollar. Hopefully others will save themselves the trouble and get a second opinion if choosing to trust Just Brakes. I guess I know how they can afford the $99.80 brake jobs they promise now.
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