On June 17, 2008, I went to the Tire Choice on 4295 SE Federal Hwy in Stuart, FL to have my brakes checked, and to see why my belt squeaked upon starting. I had done business with them before; however, I never really researched their pricing. I was charged $611.50 for a master cylinder, two rear wheel cylinders, a new belt plus labor.
Sam, the manager, informed me after inspecting the car that the belt was cracked and needed to be replaced. He also stated that the master cylinder was bad and the rear wheel cylinders were leaking. I trusted him. Bad choice. After the work was completed Sam informed me that the belt was still squeaking a little and that I should bring it back to the dealer because the tensioner was bad. You see, I had recently bought the car (1999 Chevy Malibu) from a local dealer who had checked both of these items, and had done corrective work.
I came to find out that the belt had, in fact, been replaced, as well as the tensioner. Tire Choice "ripped me off" for the new belt for $89.99. I later found out that the "cost" of the belt was $15.77. Customary labor was .2 hours or $20 if you charge $80/hr. Even if you were to double the price on the part, (100% markup), it would be somewhere around $53 complete. (I got a quote from a Chevrolet dealer in town of $64).
After I had the work done I went back to the dealer and informed him of what happened. (I was a little upset that the car was not fixed the first time). His response was that of anger, because he informed me that he had done the work, and showed me the receipts for the parts. (I had not been charged, because they were standing behind the vehicle which I had just bought from them). He wanted to see the belt which Tire Choice had replaced, claiming that it was cracked.
I called Sam at Tire Choice, told him what the dealer said, and asked for the belt which he replaced. He stated that he was the only person on duty and that it would be difficult for him to go back to the dumpster and retrieve it. Later that evening he called me back and explained that he found 3 belts and he didnt know which one was mine, so he would just refund my money on the belt. Hmph.
After further research, I found out that I was overcharged for the brakes as well. I was charged a brake flushing labor charge of $52 on top of the labor charge to replace the master cylinder, and labor to replace the wheel cylinders; $72 and $126 respectively. Thats $198 labor plus the $52. Come on now. Are you kidding me? $250 labor? Furthermore, when the master cylinder and/or wheel cylinders are replaced, the flushing goes with it. Redundant.
I sent an email to corporate, and have not been responded to as of yet. Sam did refund the price of the belt. The dealer where I bought the car fixed the squeak by replacing the belt, yet again, with a genuine GoodYear alligator back belt. No charge.
My neighborhood dealer gained my trust, Tire Choice lost a customer.