Talk to anyone you know about mechanics and the conversation will likely turn towards topics of distrust. It seems like everyone has a story about an auto shop trying to lie about a vehicle’s alleged problems, hoping that the client won’t know any better and approve a costly and unnecessary “repair.” Of course, there are plenty of mechanics and auto body shops that would never consider using fraudulent tactics to try to gain a profit. But the truth stands that most of us are worried that any of them can and will.
If you need to have your car repaired or serviced soon and are concerned about potential fraudulent repair jobs, here are a few things to consider to hopefully protect your wallet:
- Trusted mechanics: Don’t just rush to the first mechanic you find. This is inviting trouble. Use due diligence to research shops and individuals. Aggregate reviews from the public are typically a good gauge of a mechanic’s honesty and capability. When in doubt, an official car dealership for your vehicle’s model might be the right choice. Dealerships are usually more expensive but, thanks to corporate oversight and liability laws, it is uncommon to run into intentionally fraudulent behavior there.
- Estimates are not guarantees: You should not sign off on repairs until you see a cost estimate first. This will give you a ballpark idea of how much the work will cost. However, keep in mind that this is not a strong defense against fraudulent car repairs. Most incidents of fraud do not start at the beginning of the repair job. Instead, the mechanic will mention in the first follow-up call that more problems have been found and that the cost will be higher than initially estimated.
- Second opinions: For issues that have not entirely crippled your car, you may wish to get another mechanic’s opinion of the problem. Comparing both estimates and diagnoses can easily reveal where one shop was exaggerating just to try to get more money. Even if you aren’t worried about fraud, shopping around is always beneficial for the consumer.
- State regulations: It might be worth reviewing your state’s own regulations against unfair and deceptive practices used in auto body shops. A little bit of knowledge ahead of time can help you spot more subtle forms of fraud that otherwise would have resulted in you losing money.
Keep in mind that if you suspect fraudulent behavior, outright refusing to pay the auto body shop might not be the best idea. Legal obligations could allow a mechanic to hold onto your vehicle until payments are made, no matter the evidence of fraudulent car repair tactics that may be present at the time. If you want to keep driving without interruption, then you might want to pay whatever they demand and prepare to file a claim against them to collect compensation or repayment.
Hartman-Imbriale LLP and our consumer protection attorneys in Woodstock, Georgia are well-versed in all kinds of laws and regulations pertaining to fraudulent car repairs. Our 25+ years of total legal experience can be put to good use for you, determining if you have valid grounds for a claim based on the potential proof of fraudulent behavior. To learn more about our services, you can review our client testimonials or case results, or contact us directly.