Complaint Category: Improper or inferior repair
Complaint: False adverting by claiming to be a member of the Automotive Service Association when I took my car there, and for incorrect work.
In re false advertising and incorrect diagnosis at auto shop in spite of several federal bulletins and investigations suggesting what I suspected to be wrong with the car.
Please note I have attempted to resolve this issue with a credit card dispute and a complaint to the BBB of MN with no success, but after doing some research I learned that Honest 1 - Uptown was falsely claiming to a member of the Auto Service Association (ASA). They list the ASA logo more than a dozen times on their web-site (I have screen shots to prove it) at http://www.honest1uptown.com/ and I confirmed with ***********, Senior Vice President Strategic Alliances at the ASA that they were never a member and that two other Honest 1 shops were suspended for no payment in 2008. An e-mail from Mr. ****** confirming this is included below. According to their web-site "Since 1951, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) has been the leading organization for owners and managers of automotive service businesses that strive to deliver excellence in service and repairs to consumers." This is one of the reasons I thought the shop would be accurate and high quality in their repair and treatment of customer but they were not. Not being is the ASA means the shop does not take part in ASA collaborative best practices events, auto education, and management training, etc.
This is not a surprise considering how I was misled by them about free towing back to their shop if my car breaks down again, which it did before the end of the day I took it home, paying $407.50.
Business' Initial Response
****** ******* visited our automotive repair facility, Honest-1 Auto Care, at ********************, on two occasions. He first called me, ***** *****, on Feb. 1st, 2012. He told me he was experiencing difficulty starting his vehicle (a 2002 Saturn L with 142,610 miles) and he wished to have his vehicle towed to our facility to have the fuel pump replaced. I told him there were many things that could be contributing to the no-start condition, a failed fuel pump being one of them. I also informed Mr. *******, the proper process would be to have a technician run some diagnostic testing to see, if indeed, the fuel pump was failing. Mr. ******* informed me that he had a ''coupon'' for a free tow. I told Mr. ******* I was un-aware of any ''free towing'' coupons, but to certainly bring along what he had and I would see if I could apply it to the towing charge.
When Mr. ******* arrived with his vehicle in tow later that afternoon, we were able to start his vehicle and drive it into the shop. Mr. ******* was adamant about just getting an estimate for replacement of the fuel pump and wanted us to perform, what he felt, was the needed repair. I again, strongly suggested he have us actually diagnose the real concern and the diagnostic fee to do so, would be $105.93. However, as a goodwill gesture, I would reduce the diagnostic fee to $59.99. And if the concern was related to a failed fuel pump, he would not be charged for the diagnostic fee at all, assuming we performed the needed repair. In addition, the tow charge would be $85. Mr. ******* did not have a coupon for the tow charge. And instead, proceeded to suggest that our website implies we tow vehicle for free and that he would not be paying for the tow. I asked Mr. ******* to show me what he was referring to, on his laptop. What Mr. ******* was referring to was our, ''To The Rescue,'' roadside service assistance program, which is free to any and all customers that spend $25 or more in service work with us. The website clearly states this program is a benefit of doing business with us, is active after your first service visit, and lasts for one year. Mr. ******* felt the program implied we cover all towing charges. Even after fully explaining and pointing out the details of the program on ******'s laptop, he still refused responsibility for the tow charge. Mr. ******* was very argumentative and confrontational.
Mr. ******* subsequently agreed to let us diagnose the concern with his vehicle for $59.99, with the stipulated parameters. To provide some information for Mr. *******, I went ahead and estimated a fuel pump replacement, just in case, so Mr. ******* could have some idea of what he may be looking at for the cost of repair, if indeed that was needed. Mr. ******* then proceeded to make multiple phone calls from our lobby to other shops trying to ''price shop'' our estimate and obtain a, ''phone diagnosis'' from others.
When the vehicle was pulled into the shop, the tech found the check engine light was on, indicating some information had been logged in the onboard computer. The tech connected the vehicle to a diagnostic computer and found trouble code P0300, general misfire code. A general misfire code can be caused from either a misfire due to a spark delivery issue or a misfire related to fuel delivery.
The tech found multiple spark plugs to be fowled with fuel. The tech then subsequently traced the concern to failed spark plug boots. As a result of the boot failure, spark was not being delivered to one or more of the spark plugs. As a result, the plugs were soaked in gasoline and the engine was flooded when Mr. ******* was trying to start the vehicle. Subsequent flooding of the engine prevented the engine from starting. Then each time an attempt at starting the vehicle was performed, additional flooding occurred, increasing the unlikeliness of the vehicle starting.
I informed Mr. ******* of the concerns and provided a complete estimate for replacement of all spark plugs and spark plug boots, as well as de-flooding the engine, (which I included in the diagnostic fee), and performing an oil change to replace the gasoline diluted oil. Mr. ******* requested we replace the fuel filter as well. We then proceeded with needed repairs as per Mr. *******, after having him sign an updated repair order documenting all the needed and requested repairs he had authorized, including the diagnostic fee.
We never were able to duplicate the original concern Mr. ******* apparently towed his vehicle for. However, the concern we addressed for Mr. ******* would definitely produce the symptoms he discussed with us. At this point, Mr. ******* was presented with the total bill and refused to pay the reduced diagnostic charge and tow charges that he had previously agreed to and signed off on with the revised work order. After a rather heated discussion with Mr. *******, I agreed to waive the diagnostic fee and reduce the tow charge from $85 to $68, as a goodwill gesture to get Mr. ******* down the road. He agreed and paid his reduced bill, $407.50. At this time, I presented Mr. ******* with the invoice, and provided a sticker on his paperwork that contained the information regarding usage of the ''To The Resue'' program, including the 800 number that needed to be called in case of a roadside service need.
Two days later I arrived at work at 7am and saw Mr. *******'s vehicle parked in our lot and a tow bill in our night drop box. I called Mr. ******* approximately an hour later to discuss why his vehicle was back at our lot. Mr. ******* informed me he had the vehicle towed to us because he was again, unable to start his vehicle multiple times, wished to have a full refund of his previous visit, and wanted us to diagnose the current concern with his vehicle for free. I informed Mr. ******* we would certainly take a look at his vehicle and there would be no charge to him whatsoever, if the concern with his vehicle had anything to do with his previous repair visit. I explained to Mr. ******* that a vehicle can demonstrate similar symptoms yet have very different causes. Mr. ******* wanted me to guarantee he would have no charges to him whatsoever. I told him I could not do that without knowing what was wrong with the vehicle. However, I would waive the standard diagnostic fee and at least diagnose the concern at this time. He agreed to allow us to look at the vehicle.
I went out to see how the vehicle would behave at start-up. The vehicle started immediately and I drove the vehicle into the shop. We found the check engine light to be on again, with a stored code, P0341, camshaft position error code. This code is tripped as a result of either of the camshaft position sensors failing, or one of camshafts is actually out of time. The tech tested both sensors and found both sensors to be functioning as needed. More than likely, the code was tripped as a result of the timing chain skipping, due to a weak timing chain tensioner, allowing the exhaust cam to slip a tooth or two. This scenario would indeed allow the vehicle to still run, however poorly at times, demonstrating a lack of power, (a concern Mr. ******* now had), and could result in difficulty starting at times. This particular scenario is also a very common cause of this particular code for this engine setup. However, Mr. ******* would not allow us to tear down the front engine cover area, (where the timing chain and chain tensioner are contained), to verify the concern. While discussing his vehicle over the phone, I informed Mr. ******* there was a tow charge. He demanded I cover the tow because he now had the ''To The Rescue'' program. I informed Mr. ******* they are a third party and he would need to contact them directly for reimbursement.
Mr. ******* then came into the store to pick up his vehicle. I informed him he had a $85 bill for the tow charge. He argued this point and refused to pay the fee. I informed him he would not be getting his vehicle unless the fee was paid. Again, we argued and for the sake of terminating the situation, I reduced the tow fee down to $68, as I did for Mr. ******* on his previous visit. Mr. ******* paid his bill and left with his car after starting it immediately.
Mr. ******* later called me and informed me ''To the Rescue'' refused to pay his tow charge because he did not follow the proper procedure by calling their 800 number to use one of their service providers. If he had, there would have been no charge for the tow. Instead, Mr. ******* elected to contact a tow company directly and arrange for a tow. I informed Mr. ******* there was nothing else I could do.
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
They list the ASA logo more than a dozen times on their web-site, and in their e-mail blasts (I have screen shots to prove it) at http://www.honest1uptown.com/ and I confirmed with ***********, Senior Vice President Strategic Alliances at the ASA that they were never a member and that two other Honest 1 shops were suspended for no payment in 2008. An e-mail from Mr. ****** confirming this is included below. According to their web-site "Since 1951, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) has been the leading organization for owners and managers of automotive service businesses that strive to deliver excellence in service and repairs to consumers." This is one of the reasons I thought the shop would be accurate and high quality in their repair and treatment of customer but they were not. Not being is the ASA means the shop does not take part in ASA collaborative best practices events, auto education, and management training, etc.
This is not a surprise considering how I was misled by them about free towing back to their shop if my car breaks down again, which it did before the end of the day I took it home, paying $407.50. They have many only line complaints and low ratings online found with simple searches - http://www.insiderpages.com/b/3716686126/honest1-auto-care-in-uptown-mn-minneapolis. Their response is not acceptable and they should not be a member of the BBB as that insults all those great auto shops who work hard to resolve complaints while Honest 1 hides from the issue. They also misrepresent my words and actions in an effort to unethically take money.
Complaint Resolution: BBB determined that despite the company's reasonable effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.