Can I do anything about an auto repair guy who ripped me off?
April 26, 2007 12:15 PM   Subscribe

It looks like I've been sort of ripped off by an auto glass repair guy. Is there anything I can/should do?

I broke the rear driver's side window of my car. I found a repair guy through a google search and his web site seemed no better or worse than anything else that turned up. He came out to my place and installed a new window. I wrote him a check for $195 (which he's already cashed), he spent maybe an hour fixing it, and then he left.

It's a power window, but it doesn't roll down at all now, and hasn't since the first time I got in my car after he installed it. I left him a message that night and then called back and spoke to him the next day. He said that that was odd because it had worked for him, and he'd call me the next morning to schedule a time to come back. He didn't call, so I called him and he told me he'd be over in 2 hours. He never came. I left him a couple more messages asking why I hadn't heard from him, etc., and he still hasn't called me back. The last time I said that if I didn't hear from him I was going to assume that he'd ripped me off and would tell people as much.

It's not the worst thing, because I have a window now, and he cleaned the glass out of my car and everything, but I want to be able to roll it down and it bothers me that he's just blowing me off. Is there anything else I should do about this?
posted by ludwig_van to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total)
Better Business Bureau
posted by robinpME at 12:28 PM on April 26, 2007

Does his business have an address? Bring the car to him or offer to bring it to him. He didn't really rip you off, he' s just not done. Give him another chance. I do remodeling and people are shocked when I show up when I say I will. I think what he's doing is pretty common in services.
posted by lee at 12:44 PM on April 26, 2007

Better Business Bureau

This is not a solution by any stretch. The Better Business Bureau will put a note in a file if the business is a member. Otherwise, you're talking to people that don't care.

I'd leave him a definitive-sounding voice-mail message stating that the problem needs to be resolved quickly or you'll seek alternate methods of reparation. You may want to include the phrase "small claims court," depending on your level of frustration.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 12:45 PM on April 26, 2007

I'll second lee's suggestion of trying to take the car to the business address before proceeding further with the ripoffery options.

Have a friend call for a sure-thing appointment at the business and then you show up instead with your unrolly window.
posted by cashman at 12:49 PM on April 26, 2007

Send him a demand letter. Tell him what you want him to do and then say if he doesn't do it by x date (30 days from when you send the letter) you will promptly file in small claims court.

BBB is fine for reporting him, but is unlikely to get him to fix the problem or give you your money back.
posted by crhanson at 1:14 PM on April 26, 2007

If lee is right, call again.... but play nice and say you know he's probably been really busy, yada yada, and you know how it is but that it's important to you that he looks at it. He'll probably call back because he knows you're not angry and because he needs to get you off his back. I'd save hardball for later if that doesn't work.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:21 PM on April 26, 2007

If he is a member of BBB, then yes, there will be a process in place to resolve the issue (how effective it is depends on how eager the local BBBites are and how much he gives a flip about them).

It could be something as simple as checking fuses and electrical connectors for your power window. If that's not something you want to get into, then pursue it with him; if it were me and I could figure it out, I would just let it drop.

(In fact, I did just that when I had some transmission work done and they messed up the wires for my backup lights; I just redid the connections and forgot about it.)
posted by Doohickie at 1:22 PM on April 26, 2007

The window not rolling down might not be something he can fix. After all, he's an auto glass guy, not a mechanic. Its possible that small bits of glass got in the mechanism and are gumming it up.

I'd take it to the regular repair shop of your choice. Ask for diagnostics and an estimate. Ask them if its something that you could have reasonably expected the auto glass guy to fix. Then make your decision on about if you've been "ripped off" or not.
posted by anastasiav at 1:38 PM on April 26, 2007

I found the web site for the BBB of western PA and he's not listed there. I guess that rules out that route?

I agree that it's a little unclear whether I was ripped off per se - but the fact is I paid him with the understanding that it would be fully operational again, and that's what he told me he'd done when he left. Then he told me he'd come back to fix it and never did. Then I left several non-angry messages on his machine and he never called me back.

So it seems to me like he didn't start out intending to screw me over, but once he had my money he decided it wasn't worth it for him to come back and finish the job, and that seems shitty.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:20 PM on April 26, 2007

What model car? Is it possible there's a child safety feature that was inadvertently turned on? I know on our Camry, there's a small and very poorly labeled lever on the edge of the door, near the latch mechanism, that prevents the door from being opened from the inside, and there's also a switch on the driver's door that disables the power window mechanism. It's possible something similar was inadvertently engaged when the repair was done, or was engaged and then the repair guy neglected to disengage it.

Otherwise, if this isn't caused by some sort of override mechanism, it is almost certainly something simple, like a disconnected electrical connector inside the door. Unless the vehicle is unusually complicated to work on, Window Repair Guy should be able to figure this out and fix it within 15 minutes. I would offer to fix it in 15 minutes, max.
posted by mosk at 4:05 PM on April 26, 2007

Is it too late to stop payment on the check? Then, you'll _definitely_ hear from him again.
posted by ad_hominem at 4:07 PM on April 26, 2007

To follow on what anastasiav said, is there any way that what cuased the window to break may have cuased the mechanism to fail? If so, and you just paid him to replace the window glass, you may be SOL.
posted by Big_B at 4:21 PM on April 26, 2007

It's a 1998 Chrysler Cirrus. I don't think it's any kind of safety feature, though -- even with the window lock engaged the driver can still lower the rear windows, and he told me that the power window was working before he left (I unfortunately didn't test it myself until after he was gone). And he's already cashed the check.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:20 PM on April 26, 2007

check your state's consumer protection laws! it is entirely possible that since the window does not work, the job may not be considered complete and he did not fulfill his obligation by providing the service you've paid for. a letter from an attorney may also be of use to leverage a response, hinting that small claims court will be the next stop.
posted by kuppajava at 7:38 PM on April 26, 2007

Call him and tell him he needs to make it right. Go visit. Call several more times, then try BBB and the Consumer Advocate in your state. BBB will depend on your state. In many states they will try to intervene, at least making a phone call. It often helps. You can find the Consumer office via the Attorney General for your state.
posted by theora55 at 8:47 PM on April 26, 2007

Send him a registered letter demanding he assist you in resolving the problem.

Go look up how to file in small claims court at

If he cashed your check by depositing it in his account you'll have the information you need to settle the judgment if you win. Which, if he practices the same avoidance techniques with the court as he does with you, you will by default.
posted by phearlez at 3:45 PM on April 27, 2007

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