Auto shop rip-off !

December 5, 2009Santosh No Comments »

I visited a local Meineke car care center#256 in NJ today (39 Finderne ave, Bridgewater, NJ 08807) to check on brakes as my car was making noise whenever I applied the brakes.

I walked in and the owner himself asked me what needs to be done. I said “I need you guys to inspect my car’s brakes for me”. He asked “Something specifically wrong with them?”. I said “It makes squeaky noise when I apply brakes”.
He inspected those and called me inside the shop to discuss the estimate. He had removed 2 wheels from passenger side of the car (1 front, 1 back). He said “The front rotor/pads are thin. We can’t refinish rotors, we will have to replace them.” I asked “what about back axle?” He said “Back axle is fine, you don’t’ need to replace those rotors/pads”. Total estimated cost to replace rotors/pads/hardware on the front axle was estimated at $400. I asked him if he can show me the new rotor that he is going to use on my car – just to see how bad my brakes were. He went inside and came back with a rotor. I realized right away that it was a different model and had a different shape. He said it will be similar to the one I have on my car but new like ‘this’ one. So I couldn’t compare.
I agreed to pay $400 and get it fixed. Then the car was fixed after 2 hours and taken out for the test drive (by some other guy). When he came back and hit on brakes to park it, I was able to hear the noise! I asked him about it, he said it will go away once the rear ones are replaced. I said “But the owner said that the rear ones are just fine?”. He didn’t know how to answer that question, so he went inside and came back with  “those can last for  some more time, so you don’t have to replace them right away”.
I decided to drive it around for some time so I took off. After driving for few miles I realized that nothing had changed noise wise ! So I went back to the store and mentioned about the noise still being there. He said “but you didn’t say anything about the noise !” That was a news to me ! That was totally dishonest answer and I simply couldn’t believe the direction he was  heading into ! He had asked if I had any specific issues and I had clearly mentioned about the noise. But then again, it was  he said/she said kind of a situation. I know for sure what I had mentioned to him, I could recall all my conversaion, he couldn’t (or at least he didn’t agree) !
He suggested replacing the rear axle rotors/pads for me to fix the noise issue. I asked “How much?”. He said “for the  same cost.. $400!”. I wasn’t going to go that route anyway, at least not in that workshop !

So this is where I stand: After wasting 2 hours of my Saturday morning, $400 hole in my pocket and lots of frustration,  I stillhave the problem I started the day with ! I tried to contact meineke but they don’t have contact numbers on their website for customer care/complaints etc. I could only find local store numbers. I have emailed them but I don’t expect any response anyway. Each shop is individually owned and operated… so there goes the hope of resolving the matter by escalating it !

This is really frustrating ! You don’t know much about cars and these car shops rip you off every time you visit them. They offer $40 off on brakes and make sure that the amount is adjusted in the estimate ! The rotors for my car are available online for about $25-$35 and he charged me $70 for each. Same is the case with brake pads.. a pair is available for $25-35 (top of the line ceramic pad set sells for $80), and I paid $119   !

Just be warned: If you go there because you have a pain in the arm, you most likely will end up with a new prosthetic leg !!

Addendum:I just came across this website called ‘ripoffReport.com’  and searched for keyword ‘meineke’ and got so many complaint reports !!   Check it out.

Comments welcome ! :)


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