Report: #353751

Complaint Review: McSwain Garage, owner Eldon Hamilton

  • Submitted: Mon, July 21, 2008
  • Updated: Sat, April 23, 2011
  • Reported By: Dallas Texas
  • McSwain Garage, owner Eldon Hamilton
    121 Austin Street
    Garland, Texas

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

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.

Dallas, Texas
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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/21/2008 01:21 PM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 Author of original report

Thanks for the useful input, Dustin - not

AUTHOR: Jonboy_dallas - (U.S.A.)

Okay, Dustin W., let me get this straight. You have never personally done business with McSwain Garage; thus, you have zero first-hand knowledge about the level of services performed by McSwain Garage. You have no knowledge about my particular situation -- in fact, rather than talking about MY situation, you make groundless, insulting comments about my profession, as if that had a particle to do with my complaints. Yet you think we're supposed to believe your pontifications because you're a self-styled automotive genius. You sound like the opposite of a genius to me.

But I do thank you for bumping this stale thread so that others can read it.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Eldon is Honest

AUTHOR: Dustin W. - (United States of America)

First I'd like to say that I've never had a car repaired by McSwain Garage.  Not because I wouldn't, but because I drive new cars.  My family's business, however, has worked with Eldon for years and years.  I know the car business inside and out, and I know a dishonest mechanic when I see one.

First, $70 per hour was cheap for a labor charge even in 2008.  The going hourly rate for the Garland area back then was $85/hour. 

And garages charge for labor.  Every last one of them, whether dishonest or not.  If McSwain only charged you for two hours that's about bare minimum anywhere you go.  You were NOT ripped off. 

Also, whether an engine needs extensive work or replacement is a matter of opinion.  I do not know the make or model of your car, but generally, if an engine requires as much work as you spent on it, the more economical choice for the long run would have been to replace it or get another car, which I'm willing to bet you've done by now. 

I don't know why on Earth you'd expect a mechanic to spend two or more hours digging around under your hood for free.  That's obscene.  McSwain is not a charity; it is a business.  While you may provide a free initial consult to prospective clients at your practice, you do charge if it goes any further than that. 

If Eldon or his mechanic had simply attached the OBDII scanner to the car and charged you $140, you might have a case.  Even then it would be perfectly acceptable to charge one hour of labor, though most mechanics I know don't do that.  In any case, that's not what McSwain did.  They put work into your car even though you refused repairs. 

And you should read chapter 70 of the property code again, counselor.  You don't file a mechanic's lien.  The lien exists from the moment the mechanic has your car until the time you pay him for his work.  In 2008, he couldn't notify you by certified mail of the mechanics lien and intent to foreclose until thirty days had passed after the work was completed.  That's a simple law to understand.  He had the right to retain possession of your vehicle.  The statute and case law are VERY clear on that.  Chapter 70 has changed since 2008, but not that part.  I don't know how you passed the bar.  Simple, simple stuff.

Back to the subject at hand, I would not hesitate to send any of my friends to McSwain Garage unless the drive a Ferrari or something like that, and really, for all I know Eldon can work on those.
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#3 Consumer Comment

Just my experience.............

AUTHOR: Mr. G. - (USA)

Just a few weeks ago [jan 2011] my van engine started making a nasty knocking noise, I knew in the pit of my stomach this was gonna cost me. It got towed to McSwains Garage, the owner talked to me by phone and explained that the engine was toast. Given all the years they have been in business, and just how knowldgeable he seemed, I agreed with his logic, that it was easier and faster to just replace the engine. I guess I could have pushed the issue and made him tear into it to be sure that it was totally gone, but I heard that noise, I knew, and I also knew I would have to pay the man to "look" deeper, and the odds were he would be right and I would just owe more money. So he gave me a quote, and even though things happend beyond his control that should have driven the cost up, he stuck to his word, and my van is purring like a kitten now, and at the exact price he promised! This was my first time to use them, and it wont be the last!  Thank You! McSwains Garage! Great owner and bunch of guys and gals working for him! P.S. They did all the work in record time too! Thanks again!!!
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#4 Author of original report

Clueless Shelby

AUTHOR: Jonboy_dallas - (U.S.A.)

shelby_s: No repairs were performed, GENIUS.
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#5 General Comment

Long time customer

AUTHOR: shelby_s - (United States of America)

These people used to work with my grandpa. They are very trustworthy and reliable. My dad(cliff) & uncle(greg) still use them even after my grandpa's death 10 years ago. I am currently having car troubles and am taking my car in to McSwain's Garage this weekend when my dad gets back home!!!!!

Please show me liable proof that they did this to you.

Oh, P.S., when you agree to pay for the repairs your also paying the labor as well GENIUS!
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#6 Consumer Comment

My Experience with Eldon...

AUTHOR: Reverend Jesse - (U.S.A.)

I do not know the facts about jonboy's business dealings with Eldon. I cannot say he is wrong because of that fact. All I can choose to do is base my opinions on what I know about Eldon and my own experiences.

I work directly across the street from McSwain's and have for a few years. I started using him because it was so convenient to be able to drop off my car and walk across the street to work. My later dealings were because of his honesty. I first saw it when a man brought in a vehicle for him to replace the engine. Eldon will always try to find out if that is what you need first. He and his crew are more than qualified to replace an engine. In this case, he looked over the engine and found a simple repair would do the job. Rather than make a killing in replacing the engine, he took the right way and told the owner of the vehicle it was a simple fix.

I have yet to find ANY garage that looks over an engine and can make a solid judgment on what it needs without a diagnostic and/or digging into it. That would especially apply when deciding to replace the whole engine, or repairing the one that is already in it. If you want that service for free then pull out your toolbox and park it under a tree one Saturday and see how long it will take you. A man should be paid for his work.

As for my own personal experiences, they have been nothing but pleasant. I will not tell you that McSwain's is the most inexpensive way to get your car done. Hell, Eldon himself told me where I could get a better price on an oil change. I voted to leave it there and have it done and walked across the street to work. Like I said... convenience is important. Other times I was unable to pay for all of the repairs to get my car fixed. He did what it would take to get me going for the cheapest price and told me the possible consequences that came with taking that route.

I have sent my family there for their vehicle repairs and they continue to use McSwain's. They have sent their friends. Word of mouth is the best way to describe his advertisement. Repeat customers, due to his honesty, is what has kept him in business.

Jesse W
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#7 Author of original report

McSwain Garage Lies Again

AUTHOR: Jonboy_dallas - (U.S.A.)

McSwain Garage's employee, "Carol," using the account of McSwain Garage's owner, asserts the business issued a refund on 6-6-08. THIS IS FALSE. In fact, 6-6-08 is the date the expenses were charged to our account. Perhaps "Carol" is confused.

Because the business refused to issue a refund, my wife and I contested the charge with the card issuer, AT&T. Only yesterday we received a letter, dated 9-16-08, from AT&T stating they had completed their investigation of the matter and had issued us a credit in the amount of $140.00. An image of the letter can be found at:

So McSwain never issued a refund; rather, a neutral third party, after conducting an investigation, found the charge was unfounded and issued the refund.

To me, a neutral investigation is more credible than opinions of Eldon Hamilton written by someone whose paychecks are signed by Mr. Hamilton.
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#8 UPDATE Employee

get a life

AUTHOR: Eldon Hamilton - (U.S.A.)

hey there
my name is carol and i am elodn hamiltons secretary. been with him for 10 years now. he is the most honest person i have known. he backs up his work every time. evidently mr.haslett has no other life as he must spend most of his time trying to dog out other people who do.

in answer to his complaint about not getting his refund, perhaps he should talk to his wife as she got the refund on her credit on june 08,2008. i have the receipt.
so i guess that mr.haslett wants a double refund. you just can't please all the people all the time.

as for mr.cobb, i believe he will speak for himself. i would like to know how mr.haslett draws his conclusions or gets his information as mr.cobb has been a customer of mcswains for many years.

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#9 Consumer Comment

RE: "One final note"

AUTHOR: Txrob - (U.S.A.)

JohnBOY posted at 9/21/08 11:29:06 AM

'Robert Cobb' posted at 8/27/2008 8:34:08 AM. Eldon Hamilton posted at 8/27/2008 9:28:23 AM. That means either:
(a) There was an ASTOUNDING coincidence;
(b) 'Robert Cobb' is really Eldon Hamilton; or
(c) 'Robert Cobb' is what the police would call a 'shill,' which is a person who falsely poses as a satisfied customer.

JohnBOY, what planet are you from? It was neither A, B or C! I even posted the "correct" answer in my post or don't you know how to read? I advised I was looking for the phone number to McSwain's Garage when I came across your post here on Rip-Off Report (I Google everything). It was then I felt it necessary to reply, BASED ON MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, to your unfounded attack on McSwain Garage. This is the God's honest truth!! If your mind is so shallow, or you're too dense to understand it was BASED ON MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, then you should refrain from commenting about me.

As for taking cheap shots at you, JohnBOY; Nothing I said earlier was meant as a "cheap shot". However, for you to call me a shill, an imposter, or a liar is definitely slanderous. It amazes me that someone who is licensed to practice law would make such personally harmful comments, especially not knowing who I am. I, being a true MAN, even went as far as to post my real name, unlike you. I will gladly meet you in person in order to introduce myself, and then YOU can judge whether I am "real" or not and who I say I am.

What say you, JohnBOY? Care to meet over a Cappuccino or do you prefer the other left-handed drink, the Frapp? I'll have an iced tea, thanks!

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#10 Author of original report

One final note...

AUTHOR: Jonboy_dallas - (U.S.A.)

"Robert Cobb" posted at 8/27/2008 8:34:08 AM. Eldon Hamilton posted at 8/27/2008 9:28:23 AM. That means either:
(a) There was an ASTOUNDING coincidence;
(b) "Robert Cobb" is really Eldon Hamilton; or
(c) "Robert Cobb" is what the police would call a "shill," which is a person who falsely poses as a satisfied customer.
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#11 Author of original report

McSwain Garage Lies About Payment

AUTHOR: Jonboy_dallas - (U.S.A.)

Eldon Hamilton, the owner of McSwain Garage, writes: "The truth is that Mr.Haslett has been refunded his $140.00." The truth is that McSwain Garage has NOT -- I repeat NOT -- refunded me $140.00. For proof, see the status of my BBB complaint:

Also, Mr. Hamilton writes he told me I'd have to pay the bill in full before he'd release my car to a towing service. This also is a complete prevarication. For proof, read McSwain Garage's response to my BBB complaint, which can be found at the link above. In McSwain Garage's response, Mr. Hamilton didn't write he told me this in advance. Mr. Hamilton has simply fabricated a story to try to explain his dishonest actions.

Mr. Hamilton, why don't you tell the truth?

In response to other assertions by Mr. Hamilton wrote, the reader should note:

1. He never denies he never told me in advance he'd charge me for an estimate.
2. He never denies he first said the engine needed replacing, then he charged his mind and said he could fix it, then changed his mind again and said it needed replacing. Does this sound like he's a qualified mechanic?
3. He never denies a more-qualified mechanic REPAIRED the engine and the cost was less than half what McSwain Garage wanted to charge me to replace the engine.

In reply to Mr. Cobb: I'm surprised you would write since you have no first-hand knowledge of the situation. I'm glad you've had only good experiences with the business. However, your experiences have nothing to do with mine. And you have no basis for taking cheap shots at me when you know nothing first-hand of my experience. As I wrote in my initial complaint, McSwain Garage never told me what needed to be repaired -- rather, the owner wanted to sell me a new engine. I didn't want anything for free, but like anybody, I wanted to be informed of an expense before it was incurred. I paid a more-qualified mechanic to repair the engine, and he informed me, in writing, of what the charges would be before he started the work. McSwain Garage didn't do any of this.

Finally, Mr. Hamilton thinks no lawyer has ever worked without getting paid. However, any lawyer will tell you he or she often looks into a matter before deciding to take a case. Sometimes the investigation takes many hours. Ultimately, every lawyer declines to take a case because they feel unqualified to handle the matter. I always give a referral to another attorney in such a case. The difference here is McSwain Garage agreed to repair my car when they were unqualified to do so. Rather than chalking it up to experience and dealing with me fairly and honestly, the owner held my car illegally, lied about what transpired, and charged me for giving me nothing of value.

There are far better mechanics out there than McSwain Garage who will deal with customers honestly. I'd suggest using them.
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#12 REBUTTAL Owner of company

he wanted us to find out what was wrong and then didn't want to pay for it

AUTHOR: Eldon Hamilton - (U.S.A.)

In answer to this complaint Mr.Haslett sent his vehicle to us via wrecker service from another shop that was unable to fix it. When it came in I checked the oil,it was 4 quarts low and the engine was knocking,when I advised Mr.Haslett of this
he said that he didn't understand what I was telling him,but to go ahead and tear down the right side and find out what the problem was.. Upon further investigation
I found that there was no compression on right bank and the timing chain was broken,due to no oil in the engine. I advised him at that time that I thought it would be best to put another motor in it. In order to find this out I had to remove
the ac compressor,accumulator & hose assembly to get to the valve covers to remove them. to see the timing chain & tensioner. This procedure took at least 3
hours and we only charged Mr.Haslett for 2. Our labor rate is $70.00 per hour.When I told Mr.Haslett what the problem was I gave him several quotes for new & used motors ranging from $5700.00 to $6300.00.

Mr.Haslett said he did not want to do this and he would be picking up his vehicle as
he didn't think I knew what I was talking about. I informed him that he would have
to pay his bill before I could release the vehicle. His response was that he would not pay for it. He sent a tow truck out to pick it up and we refused to release it until he paid his bill.

Once Mr.Haslett authoized payment by credit card we released the vehicle. We
didn't do anything wrong. Surely Mr.Haslett would charge his clients for time he spent on their case even though they dropped it. Our time is valuable too.

McSwain Garage has been in business for over 40 years with few complanits. Our customers come to us through word of mouth and we have no need for advertising. Mr. Haslett has tried to hurt our reputation.

The truth is that Mr.Haslett has been refunded his $140.00. So I really don't understand why he continues with this rampage he is on.
Eldon Hamilton
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#13 Consumer Comment

RE: McSwain Garage

AUTHOR: Txrob - (U.S.A.)

Wow Jon_boy...

Please tell me where you take your vehicles that will tear down the engine and tell you what needs to be repaired without charging you... I want to change to this mechanic!!

Actually, I did a search for the phone number at McSwain's Garage and found your report. I've been doing business with McSwain's for years and have never had a problem with them. They are one of the few garages you can trust to be honest and up front with you. Too many times I hear of people getting ripped off by garages telling them their vehicle needs repairs that are unnecessary or for non-existent problems. Too bad they have to deal with people like Jon_boy who obviously wants something for nothing!! No wonder repairs are so expensive...

Robert Cobb
Garland, TX.
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