In the past year, Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest has received more than 34,000 inquiries and 340 complaints against auto repair and service companies. To combat industry complaints BBB Serving Montana and the Montana Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) are teaming up, to advise customers on the best ways to find an auto repair shop.
According to a AAA survey, consumers are spending nearly $800 per year in auto repairs. To make matters worse, more than a quarter of American drivers either skipped or delayed recommended auto service driving up costs even higher.
"One of the best things you can do to ensure all of your auto repair needs are dealt with fairly and accurately is to hire someone you can trust," Tyler Andrew, BBB Northwest CEO, said. "We are proud to work alongside the Office of Consumer Protection in urging car owners to shop smart and safely."
“For most consumers, buying a vehicle is one of the single biggest purchases they’ll make in any given year. Delaying or completely ignoring recommended automobile maintenance can eventually lead to more expensive repairs, or even invalidate your warranty," Tim Fox, Montana Attorney General, said. "My Office of Consumer Protection is teaming up with Better Business Bureau Northwest to remind drivers of the importance of protecting your investment by finding a mechanic you trust to perform routine service and necessary repairs. Montanans with questions can reach out to either organization for good advice that will steer them in the right direction.”
Since BBB Serving Montana has received nearly 1,800 auto repair and service inquiries in the past year, BBB and OCP recommend the following for a smooth ride:
Follow the vehicle manual: Maintenance costs vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, so consumers should follow the recommended guidelines in the owner's manual. Pay close attention to any lit dashboard signals, unusual noises or odors.
Start with trust: Make sure the shop has proper licenses and complies with local laws. Check business profiles at bbb.org/northwest to see if a business is accredited, in good standing and read reviews and complaints. Consumers may also click here to see if the Office of Consumer Protection has had any complaints about specific Montana businesses.
Ask for a written estimate: Before authorizing any work, have the mechanic do a walkthrough and write down the exact repairs and the costs for each. Ask to be notified first of any additional repairs on the vehicle. Before leaving the shop, consumers should understand all of the labor rates, guarantees and shop policies.
Pay attention at pick up: Ask for a summary of all work completed and get all guarantees in writing when picking up the vehicle. Also, don't be afraid to follow up with any problems with the car after the work is complete.
If consumers are unable to reach a satisfactory repair, they can leave a BBB review.
If the issue involves the warranty for the car, consumers can find tips or open a dispute with BBB Auto Line. For more auto repair advice visit go.bbb.org/autorepair. Consumers may also contact the Montana Office of Consumer Protection toll-free at 800-481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Montana’s Office of Consumer Protection: The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is part of the Montana Department of Justice. Located in Helena, OCP seeks to protect Montana consumers from, and educate them about, harmful and unfair practices by retail businesses. To get free updates on the latest scams and identity theft attempts affecting Montanans, sign up for Consumer Alerts from the Office of Consumer Protection. To report an attempted scam, use OCP’s convenient online reporting form here.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB Northwest serves more than 14 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Western Wyoming.