On 5-22-08, my car was towed to McSwain Garage. On 5-29-08, the owner, Eldon Hamilton, told me the engine needed to be replaced. But on 5-30-08, Mr. Hamilton told me he could repair the engine. Then on 6-2-08, Mr. Hamilton again said the engine needed to be replaced. I lost confidence in McSwain Garage's ability to perform the repairs.
Mr. Hamilton changed his mind twice about what needed to be done to get my car running again. I also suspected McSwain Garage wanted to charge me in excess of $6,000.00 to replace the engine, when repairs would have cost, at most, $2,000.00. I consulted another mechanic, described the problem, and he told me he could repair the engine. (The engine has since been repaired and runs fine.)
On 6-3-08, I told Mr. Hamilton I was sending over a tow truck to take my car to another shop. He agreed. However, when the tow truck arrived on 6-3-08, Mr. Hamilton refused to release the car to the tow truck driver. I subsequently had to pay the towing service $72.10 for a needless service call. On 6-4-08, Mr. Hamilton told me he would not release the car unless I paid him $140.00 in labor to "check out" my car, $71.00 to pay the tow truck company that towed my car to McSwain Garage, and $16.00 for oil.
I agreed to pay for the towing and the oil, but not $140.00 for the labor to "check out" my car. However, when Mr. Hamilton continued to refuse to release my car for a 48-hour period, I paid a total of $229.12 to McSwain Garage to get my car back so I could have it repaired by a qualified mechanic.
I should not have had to pay $140.00 for McSwain Garage to "check out" my car. Mr. Hamilton never told me he would charge me to just look at the car or to work up an estimate of what needed to be done. Had I known McSwain Garage charges for estimates, and charges the ridiculously high sum of $140.00, I would have taken my car elsewhere. Reputable dealers don't charge for estimates, and the most I've ever paid is $50.00 for a full-blown, end-to-end computer diagnostic.
Considering that Mr. Hamilton NEVER EVEN MENTIONED charging me for an estimate, I never agreed to pay for the labor. I only agreed to pay for REPAIRS to the engine, and McSwain Garage performed no repairs to the engine. In fact, the events show McSwain Garage was unqualified to perform the repairs to my car, which is a rare so-called "muscle car" with a very powerful engine. I should not have to pay McSwain Garage $140.00 for Mr. Hamilton to determine he is unqualified to repair my car.
Moreover, I never received the written estimate for repairs I was promised. On June 6, 2008, McSwain Garage's attorney, Johannes B. "Hans" Massar, told me McSwain Garage would provide me with a detailed list of the repairs McSwain Garage contended need to be performed. I never received such a list.
In fact, I received absolutely nothing of value for the $140.00 I paid. All I got from dealing with McSwain Garage was they held my car from 5-22-08 to 6-6-08 (15 days), did nothing to get it running, delayed the car's eventual repair by a qualified mechanic, then had the gall to keep my car until I paid a $140.00 ransom. McSwain Garage never filed a mechanic and materialmen's lien on my car and therefore had no legal basis for keeping it. McSwain Garage used force to hold my car until I paid the ransom.