Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When You Get Hustled by People You Know

My father paid $1500 for a car. We got it  a few weeks ago and I got into my first accident just two days later, unfortunately, on Lincoln Drive. Now you may look at me crazy, but Lincoln Drive is very treacherous when the weather is good, but with the bad rain, it can be damn near impossible. Just ask Teddy.

I found myself having spun out of control and hitting the median. I wasn't speeding, but I did try to go around a driver ahead of me who was weaving in and out of the two lanes. I didn't feel comfortable behind him so I tried to pass him and spun out. Luckily no one was hurt, but my car was damaged a bit on the passenger side. My brother drove it home since I was shook up, and I could only pray to God that my parents didn't kill me, thank Him that no one got hurt, and hope that repairs wouldn't kill my pockets.

We took the car to one mechanic who estimated the repair cost at $400. Not too bad, but my father was on the fence. The guy was young, and my father knew he had come from prison [1]. We also didn't have any prior experience with this particular shop and since it was new, my father wanted to go with someone he knew or someone who was established. Understandable, though I did say that going to this particular guy was giving him another day of honest work and didn't see the problem with trying someone new. But my father was more comfortable going for an estimate to someone he knew. So I went to the mechanic my parents have been sending their cars to for a few years and asked for an estimate. Just an estimate.

I get a call from my father and he tells me that the estimate is for $800. I'm a bit shocked but I can handle that amount. I give the mechanic a call and he gives me a run down of all the problems. And there are quite a few, unfortunately, even though it didn't seem that bad. He also informs me that he had already gotten the parts. I was confused as to why he had done so, since I had just gotten as estimate. So I asked if there was anyway that I could just think about it and come get the car. The mechanic said that was fine, but they would have to but the parts on credit. Sounds like I'm getting charged right?

So, I say well if you already have the parts and if I'm going to get charged for the parts anyway you might as well just do it. I call my father and he tells me that they told him they didn't have the parts yet. So here I have a situation where the mechanic is telling my father one thing and telling me another. I'm not a happy camper and something smells fishy. The mechanic ends up calling back an hour later telling me that they had tried putting the new parts on and that they found another broken part, so with parts and labor everything was going to come up for $1000 roughly. I had a mini-heartattack. But I told them to go ahead, since I had no choice.


And it don't feel too good.

My father and mother where not happy. First off, I had only asked for an estimate, but for some reason the shop had decided that they would get the parts- basically guaranteeing that I would go to them. And my mother told me that they've done this many times. So we were dumb to not have learned our lesson the first few times. Fool me once...

Secondly, they are known for doing good work, but charging high prices. I appreciate the work they did, but it took a big hit on my pocket and I still feel things were a bit steep. Thirdly, they were telling my father one thing and me another. That just seemed sketch and I was not a happy camper. Fourth, both my brother and I went to school and basically grew up with the mechanic's kids. And somehow, it still feels like we got got. And I know my father felt bad for making me go there, so he was nice enough to offer to pay me back some of the balance, which I appreciate. But things still just rubbed me the wrong way about this.

I got the car back, though my brother will be using it 90% of the time at college (ain't that a bitch), and it is working as good as we got it. So I can't complain about that. But I now know to be more discerning and I will never go back to this place. We know these mechanics and we've been going to them for years. But when things aren't good it's time to move on. I refuse to be fooled twice.

[1] Not because my father is prejudice or anything. It's the nature of his work to know such things. 

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