Home > Automotive Scams > Mechanic Bill-Padding Scam

Mechanic Bill-Padding Scam

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 26 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Mechanics Garage Scam Padded Bill

We've all experienced it. You take your car in for what seems like a simple problem, easy to fix and cheap. By the time you get it back, the work and the bill have ballooned far beyond your expectations. But how much of it is real and how much of it is padding, unnecessary work that brings more profit to the garage?

How It Works

You might be taking your car in for a service. Or perhaps you've noticed a problem with the brakes or something else. You leave your car at the garage. An hour or two later your phone rings, and you hear a list of work that needs to be done on your car - with the initial problem far down that list.

The problem is that your car is now in the mechanic's hands. You need the work done, and you certainly don't want to be driving something unsafe. But most of us simply don't know enough to ask the right questions. So you go ahead, bite the bullet and authorise the work.

These days, cars are such complex machines that require diagnosis by computer that questioning your mechanic becomes almost like questioning your doctor. After all, he has the data right in front of him. We take what they say on trust.

Most mechanics are honest. But there will always be some, from back street to dealerships, which will pad their bills and scam you without a second thought.

How To Avoid The Scam

  • The best time to find a reliable garage is before you need one. Ask friends and family for recommendations.
  • Compare local garages. Go in and talk to them. Discover what their full service covers under the categories of engine, electrics, brakes, steering, bodywork and suspension, as that gives you a strong basis of comparison.
  • Have your car serviced regularly. It's less likely to need repairs if well-maintained.
  • Does the garage display a menu of fixed cost charges? Many fast-fit centres do, for example.
  • Will they tell you how much it costs to diagnose a fault if it entails dismantling and putting back together?
  • Is the garage a member of an organisation like the Motor Vehicle Repairers' Association, and do the mechanics display certificates of training?
  • Does the garage have a complaints procedure?
Remember that whilst a service is something specific, repairs aren't. With repairs:
  1. Obtain a written quote, not an estimate.
  2. If you don't know what's wrong with your car, get a written price for the diagnosis - be as specific as you can when describing the problem ("a rattle" isn't very helpful, for example).
  3. Tell the garage exactly what you want, in writing, and make it clear that no work goes ahead without your approval.
  4. Don't be afraid to go elsewhere for a second opinion.
  5. Ask about their guarantees on labour and parts.
  6. Find out how long the work will take and agree on a time for you to pick up your car.
  7. Agree how you will pay before the work is done.
  8. When the work is complete, insist on an itemised bill.
  9. When you collect your car, make sure you see any replaced parts, and make sure they've used proper manufacturer's parts.

What To Do If You Feel You've Been Scammed

  • Keep all your receipts, guarantees and invoices.
  • Talk to the garage and offer them the chance to put things right.
  • If that doesn't work, contact the organisations they belong to, and see if they can resolve the problem.
  • Keep a detailed record of all contacts on the issue - dates, times, copies of letters, etc.
  • Contact your local Trading Standards Office.
  • As a last resort, you can take the garage to small claims court.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Mickyladd
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    I received a text msg stating that I had a refund of £1.12 and to click on the link provided which would take me to the sky team to confirm my bank…
    12 September 2019
  • Bally
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a phone call from sky saying our 1 year anniversary with them was approaching, had a lovely gentlemen speak to me telling me all the things I…
    28 August 2019
  • Ickle
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call from a person called Jane with an Indian accent that my sky cover was due to run out, and that there is 3 packages with a some of money…
    28 August 2019
  • Malice
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had some one telling me that my Sky contact was ending and she can help me set a new one up. Told her that I didn't know what she was talking about…
    26 August 2019
  • linxu
    Re: Vishing Scam
    if i only have fee to pay card reference number,can I pay online? Because I can only provide accurate payment reference number and amounts, the address…
    25 July 2019
  • Angry666
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call. . I asked for his name. Location ID and what department. . He hung up. . 0114 number. Reported to sky. But they ain't interested.…
    19 July 2019
  • John
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had call from and ethnic man named Joseph. Refund on my Sky account asking DOB gave completely wrong one he took it. Then asked for expiry date on…
    25 June 2019
  • Cadbury
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Call from " sky". My breakdown ! First clue GOOD AFTERNOON It was 11 am Cover is ending. Buy now £150 for two years. Cannot pay direct debit. But one…
    18 June 2019
  • jacques73
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call from a person named Kelly who said she was from Sky maintenance and that my cover was about to expire. Said they were doing a deal on…
    30 May 2019
  • Norbs
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Call from ‘Sky tv’, we will change your box because we have had lots of complaints about it. Security check - what is your date of birth? OK because you…
    23 May 2019