The week I moved out of the nest, into the real world, (three hours away from my parents) I discovered my car was making a funny grinding noise. My parents came up to visit and my dad told me to have my brakes checked. I took my small car to a local place for a free brake inspection.
I got a price promise from the mechanic and had him write down all of the things he wanted to do to my car. He quoted me $264 plus tax. I had done a small amount of research before taking my car in and noticed a few things that sounded a bit superfluous. So, I called my dad. My dad called the mechanic. The mechanic wanted $264 for the back and $99 to do the front brakes. My dad called me back and told me to take it to a Meineke or Midas. He, of course, had heard their ads for cheap brake jobs.
The next morning, I called both Meineke and Midas for price quotes for a complete brake job. Meineke immediately said something like, we can't really give you an estimate until we've had a look at it. Upon my insistence, he quoted me $85.95 plus tax. Midas quoted me $89.95 per axle plus tax, or $179.90 plus tax for front and back. It sounded a little odd to me that Midas would charge double what its competitor was charging. So, I called Meineke back. Sure enough, it was $89.95 for the front AND $89.95 for the back. So, there's a little dishonesty right off the bat. Against my better judgment, I made an appointment for the following day.
I made it to Meineke for my appointment and waited in the office for over an hour while they did the brake inspection. The wait didn't bother me so much, I expected it. While I was waiting, I noticed a nice big listing of their prices on the wall. However, the cost of a brake job was $85.99 rather than $85.95. No big deal, I thought, four cents. While I was waiting, though, I also got to watch the guy at the desk (Meineke-guy) interact with the customers.
Customer #1 seemed to work for a company who was a regular client. He wanted his entire exhaust system (for a personal vehicle) ripped out and replaced. Meineke-guy quoted him $200 plus tax; in writing.
Customer #2 was a college aged kid with a BMW. His muffler was making a rattling noise and he wanted someone to look at it. Meineke guy immediate suggested that a mechanic would have to get it in the garage and raise it up just so they wouldn't miss anything. Customer #2 persuaded Meineke-guy to go outside and have a look. Meineke-guy came back in and quoted Customer #2 $400 plus tax. I'm no exhaust expert, but twice the price for half the work?
When the inspection for my car was finished, Meineke-guy came out to babble off a slew of things the rear of my car needed. The grand total came out to $399 plus tax (rear only). I refused to pay that much and gave him the quote from the last place I had gone to. He offered to match the price and asked if I had the quote with me. What luck, I did. He looked at the quote and told me the guy wouldn't be doing a complete brake job for me. He started to use the word shoddy a few times but settle for partial. How exactly does one do a partial brake job? Will only two of my four brakes work? When I said, no thanks, I'll take it back to the last place, he let me know he would put it back together for me and get me my keys.
A few minutes later, he came rushing back in to let me know, for my own future benefit, that the guy at the other brake place would only be doing ONE rear brake. That's the biggest load of BS I've ever heard. Why in the world would a brake shop replace only ONE bad brake? The guy at the other place walked me around the car and showed me exactly what was wrong and what he would be replacing, anyway. It definitely included fixing both rear brakes.
Meineke guy was making a last ditch attempt to justify doubling the cost for half the work. I could only imagine what he would decide to charge for the front brakes. My options: $800 for a complete brake job at Meineke or a $363 complete brake job somewhere else? Difficult decision.
By the time the mechanic pulled my car up, I was happy to leave. To top off the whole event, however, the guy smugly wiped his greasy hands all over my keys and steering wheel cover and put some grease spots on the carpet of my car with his greasy shoes. And changed my radio station!
I may be young and female, but I am not stupid and will not be screwed over by some middle-aged, sleaze-ball Meineke-guy.
An Unhappy Person