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Thread: Do auto repair shops try and screw the disabled? You betcha'!

  1. #1

    Do auto repair shops try and screw the disabled? You betcha'!

    Ah, summer! BBQs, beaches, vacations, and road trips! The latter being the reason to have the car serviced properly before hitting the road. Since I have two road trips planned for Orlando and New Orleans in the next few weeks, I figured I'd have my A/C recharged in my Altima at my local full service Midas shop just up the road--the one I frequent. My A/C was blowing cool enough, but I figured on Friday that since I hadn't serviced in the eight years I've owned the car why not just get the freon topped off? Hence, my first mistake--if it aint' broke don't fix it.

    I arrive at Midas with my AC blowing and have my usual chat with the owner who pulls my car into the bay and explains what I want to the mechanics. Well, 15 minutes later, my car is ready and the charge for the premium a/c service is $65. The owner tells me it was down a half pound of freon. No problem. I get in my car and the AC is blowing, but I noticed something--it's blowing slightly, not as cool as it was when I brought it in. I had places to be so I figured the temp would drop once I started driving--it didn't.

    By that afternoon, I noticed the air was blowing semi-cool. I knew something wasn't right and figured I needed to either bring it back or have someone else look at it. It just so happens that (as I just discovered in conversation Friday) my landscape guy previously owned three auto repair shops that specialized in AC repair. He sold them and retired to a life of landscaping about four years ago. He told me I could bring it buy his house and he would hook up the gauges and check it out for me on Saturday.

    So yesterday morning, I show up at his house, he hooks it up and tells me....it's down a half pound of Freon and the psi is reading 35, and on this car it should be about 40. My landscaper advises me to take it back to Midas and tell them what's up, but if they give me grief just buy a can of freon for $15 and he'll recharge it for free. I go immediately to Midas and roll on in and explain the issue and the owner tells me "oh, then you must have a leak." I told him what my guy said about the low psi and the owner says the car is supposed to be at 35psi. THEN he says, "You probably have a bad compression valve. It might actually be bent, but we can take a look at it and check for leaks, but it's going to be about 45 minutes." I said, I can't wait but I can come back (had no intention of doing that). Note: compression valve repairs run about $700.

    I called my landscaper/ac guy who said just go and get a can of freon and I'll put it in. So I bought the $15 can of freon and went to my landscaper guy's house where he had all the equipment to do the recharge and did it with me in the car. I noticed the ac temperature drop immediately and my ac was normal once again. He explained to me that these mechanics do this all the time. They actually TOOK OUT a half pound of freon (and charged me $65) so I would think I had a leak. THEN they expected me to pay for $99 for a diagnostic and undoubtedly try and sell me on a $700 repair job all behind a $15 can of freon! Thankfully, my landscaper is an honest guy. HE explained that a lot of shops these days try and upsell the customers on unnecessary work because they are hurting financially (obviously). I never had a problem with the Midas guys until this weekend. Lesson learned--if it ain't broke, don't fix it and in the wheelchair, you may expect to be screwed by unscrupulous mechanics. Welp, at least they don't discriminate!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelieboy View Post
    Ah, summer! BBQs, beaches, vacations, and road trips! The latter being the reason to have the car serviced properly before hitting the road. Since I have two road trips planned for Orlando and New Orleans in the next few weeks, I figured I'd have my A/C recharged in my Altima at my local full service Midas shop just up the road--the one I frequent. My A/C was blowing cool enough, but I figured on Friday that since I hadn't serviced in the eight years I've owned the car why not just get the freon topped off? Hence, my first mistake--if it aint' broke don't fix it.

    I arrive at Midas with my AC blowing and have my usual chat with the owner who pulls my car into the bay and explains what I want to the mechanics. Well, 15 minutes later, my car is ready and the charge for the premium a/c service is $65. The owner tells me it was down a half pound of freon. No problem. I get in my car and the AC is blowing, but I noticed something--it's blowing slightly, not as cool as it was when I brought it in. I had places to be so I figured the temp would drop once I started driving--it didn't.

    By that afternoon, I noticed the air was blowing semi-cool. I knew something wasn't right and figured I needed to either bring it back or have someone else look at it. It just so happens that (as I just discovered in conversation Friday) my landscape guy previously owned three auto repair shops that specialized in AC repair. He sold them and retired to a life of landscaping about four years ago. He told me I could bring it buy his house and he would hook up the gauges and check it out for me on Saturday.

    So yesterday morning, I show up at his house, he hooks it up and tells me....it's down a half pound of Freon and the psi is reading 35, and on this car it should be about 40. My landscaper advises me to take it back to Midas and tell them what's up, but if they give me grief just buy a can of freon for $15 and he'll recharge it for free. I go immediately to Midas and roll on in and explain the issue and the owner tells me "oh, then you must have a leak." I told him what my guy said about the low psi and the owner says the car is supposed to be at 35psi. THEN he says, "You probably have a bad compression valve. It might actually be bent, but we can take a look at it and check for leaks, but it's going to be about 45 minutes." I said, I can't wait but I can come back (had no intention of doing that). Note: compression valve repairs run about $700.

    I called my landscaper/ac guy who said just go and get a can of freon and I'll put it in. So I bought the $15 can of freon and went to my landscaper guy's house where he had all the equipment to do the recharge and did it with me in the car. I noticed the ac temperature drop immediately and my ac was normal once again. He explained to me that these mechanics do this all the time. They actually TOOK OUT a half pound of freon (and charged me $65) so I would think I had a leak. THEN they expected me to pay for $99 for a diagnostic and undoubtedly try and sell me on a $700 repair job all behind a $15 can of freon! Thankfully, my landscaper is an honest guy. HE explained that a lot of shops these days try and upsell the customers on unnecessary work because they are hurting financially (obviously). I never had a problem with the Midas guys until this weekend. Lesson learned--if it ain't broke, don't fix it and in the wheelchair, you may expect to be screwed by unscrupulous mechanics. Welp, at least they don't discriminate!
    I've been screwed over a few times over the years. It's tough to find an honest one.

  3. #3
    Don't know that you can say this happened because you are in a chair. Some repair shops like this just try to screw everyone...women, elderly, even (gasp!) men as the standard way they operate. You may want to choose repair places based on reviews at places like Cars.com, Angies List, or Yelp to help you find ones that operate more ethically.

    Recommend you contact the owner/manager of the shop and let them know what you found out about their service, and request a refund. Based on their response, would then recommend that you file a report with the BBB and post on one of the sites above as well.

    (KLD)

  4. #4
    I don't trust ANY mechanic, but I would have thought the people I see for regular maintenance would not be so brazen. Then again, they probably figure that if I can afford regular maintenance, I can afford to have major repair work done and trust them enough to believe whatever they say. Nope!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by SCI-Nurse View Post
    Don't know that you can say this happened because you are in a chair. Some repair shops like this just try to screw everyone...women, elderly, even (gasp!) men as the standard way they operate. You may want to choose repair places based on reviews at places like Cars.com, Angies List, or Yelp to help you find ones that operate more ethically.

    Recommend you contact the owner/manager of the shop and let them know what you found out about their service, and request a refund. Based on their response, would then recommend that you file a report with the BBB and post on one of the sites above as well.

    (KLD)
    I actually found them by way of Yelp a couple of years ago. Sadly, it WAS the OWNER who was making all of these claims. I was a bit surprised since he was always so straight up. I'm pretty car savvy and rarely get take because I question everything, but this was a new low being that it was so blatant.

  6. #6
    Capitalism at its best

  7. #7
    Now you know what the Midas golden touch is all about. I really lucked out here. I had my van serviced for about 20 years by an independent repair shop owned and operated by a Mormon family. They gave my van loving care and gave me a 10 percent discount on repairs and parts, which were few and far between. They did that for all disabled and elderly people as well as pump gas for us with a smile. They never had to advertise and had a thriving business because of word of mouth. Good service and honesty certainly paid off for them.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @
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  8. #8
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    Just FYI. New home AC no longer allowed to used Freon-22. Clear Act of 1990 prohibits it. Coolant now used is called Puron.

  9. #9
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    Bent compression valve? I'd run at that point. Best to bone up on how things work, saves a ton of grief (and you'd be surprised how simple some things are...DIY and be self-reliant)

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Bent compression valve? I'd run at that point. Best to bone up on how things work, saves a ton of grief (and you'd be surprised how simple some things are...DIY and be self-reliant)
    Yeah, I didn't intend on going back at all, but my landscaper asked I give them the chance to do the right thing. Fail. I am actually quite, "handy" as well as "handi," and tech savvy but the AC piece in the car I never dealt with. Boy, I sure know a lot about it now--including how to add my own freon. Also, ol' landscaper said the same things about the "bent" compression valve. Not even.

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