Complaints against auto repair shops, including body shops, fall near the top of consumer complaint lists every year. Some states estimate that every year people lose over 20 million dollars to unnecessary car repairs and other auto shop repair scams. Recently, one state reported that 42% of the vehicles it inspected on behalf of consumers had fraudulent parts or labor listed on the repair invoice.
When undercover agents caught well-known national auto repair stores selling unnecessary repairs many people were surprised to learn that the company had quotas, sales commissions, and contests that encouraged the sale of additional repairs.
These scams are frequently found by experts, including attorneys, who bring lawsuits on behalf of their clients:
- The highway shop scam where mechanics out on the open road take advantage of drivers who are far from home or destination
- The special offer hook scams that advertise a very inexpensive repair, such as oil change, and then trick consumers into buying parts that are not needed
- The bad part replacement scams where mechanics either do not install new parts in the consumer’s car or install used parts from some other car
- Doing work that was unauthorized
- Doing work that is not needed
If a consumer thinks that he or she has been a victim of an auto repair scam, a report should be made to the state attorney general's office, to the local consumer protection agency, and also to the Better Business Bureau. Gather up all paperwork, receipts, work orders, written estimates and warranty information from the repair shop. The more documentation the consumer has the better.
Most importantly, if a consumer believes he or she was cheated by an unethical auto repair shop, the consumer has the right to sue to recover what was paid, any other costs related to the repair, attorney fees and more. An experienced attorney can usually get results very quickly.