WOODBURY, NEW JERSEY -- On 1/28/14 I took my wife's 2003 Toyota Camry to the Meineke located in Woodbury, NJ for an oil change. For the scheduling and payment, I dealt with an individual by the name of "Will". After payment, I drove back to our apartment and right before I parked, I noticed the "Check Engine" light had come on and there was a slight "tapping" sound coming from the engine.
I told my wife about it and she said it would be best to go back to the Meineke to have them check it. About 200ft. before the Meineke there was a red light. I stopped and the car began to violently shake and the "tapping" sound quickly became a "loud knocking" sound. I pulled in and spoke to "Will" and told him what was going on. He went to pull her car into one of the bays and the car died out. He asked a few of the mechanics there to help him push the car into the bay so he could inspect it.
Once on the lift, he called my wife and I into the shop area and told us that they had installed a "defective" oil filter and that her engine was blown! My wife became extremely upset and began to take an asthma attack and I had to try my best to calm her down because she did not have her inhaler on her. "Will" told me to tell her that they will "do the right thing" and replace her engine free of charge. My wife and I insisted that at the very least, they must install a "rebuilt" engine with a warranty. He said he was not sure if he could do that.
Once we went back to our apartment, my wife called Meineke Corporate and told them what had happened and demanded that they install a "rebuilt" engine with a warranty. She spoke to a CSR by the name of "Ellias". He said that her request was extremely reasonable and that he would contact the Woodbury Meineke and tell him to honor the request. "Ellias" called my wife back and told her they would install a "rebuilt" engine with a warranty.
About 2 weeks later, the Woodbury Meineke called us and said that her car was ready. Once there, we spoke to someone named "Steve" and he said that he personally took care of everything and had ordered a "rebuilt" engine from a company called "ITC". He said that if we had any problems whatsoever, to take her car back to Meineke and her would personally take care of it. About 5 days later, the "Check Engine" light came on again.
We took it back to Meineke and "Steve" said that he would take a look at it. He called us up and said that there was just a simple "communication" problem between the catalytic converter and the engine and all he had to do was "reset the soft light" and everything would be fine. He asked if he could keep the car for a few days to test drive it to make sure that the "Check Engine" light would not come back on and that everything else was OK. My wife agreed and we picked her car up 3 days later.
Everything seemed fine with the car...at first. 3 weeks afterwards; on my wife's birthday no less; the "Check Engine" light went off again. We took it back to the Woodbury Meineke to find out that they now have a new owner, new management, and all new mechanics. No one that was working there now was there when we had taken the car for the initial oil change or when we brought the car back after the "rebuilt" engine was installed.
The new manager; "Jim"; had no idea what we had gone through, but we explained everything to him. He said he would inspect the car to see what the problem was. He called my wife and told her that she would need a new catalytic converter. My wife and I were sure that the "rebuilt" engine had something to do with the catalytic converter going bad.
My wife called Meineke Corporate and asked to speak to "Ellias". She was told that "Ellias" no longer works there and spoke to an extremely rude CSR that would not let my wife explain anything or get a word in edgewise. My wife told the CSR everything that had happened to her car and that she was sure that the "rebuilt" engine was the cause of the catalytic converter going bad. The CSR told my wife that her warranty was only on her engine and that there was no way that would have made the catalytic converter go bad.
My wife had become extremely frustrated with this CSR and told her that we would contact a lawyer. The CSR told my wife that if she did that, she would "erase all records of all of her phone calls and complaints!" The next day; "Jim"; the new manager of the Woodbury Meineke; called my wife. He said he wanted to try to find out any information he could about the "rebuilt" engine that was installed. He told my wife that it was not a "rebuilt" engine. He said that it was a "used engine from a junkyard"!!!
My wife and I have gone through so much since the economy went down the drain. We both lost our jobs, we lost our home, and have gone through bankruptcy. I am back to work now, but my wife is still unemployed and needed her car to look for a job because I can not afford everything. We are in an apartment now and are falling back further and further in debt. We don't know what to do now. We can not afford a lawyer unless we can find a pro-bono lawyer or possibly a lawyer that would handle our case on a contingency basis and add all of their charges and fees to the total amount my wife and I are seeking.
We gave Meineke one shot to "do the right thing" and they did not and lied to us! The only way I can see them doing "the right thing" at this point in time would be to cut my wife a check for the entire amount that she has paid to Toyota. I have heard that the best we could hope for would be "Blue Book" value, but we will not be able to get a car as reliable as her's was with that value. Besides, none of this would have ever happened if they just recognized the defective oil filter BEFORE they put it on.
Are they any lawyers that would be willing to take on this case as described earlier? Either by pro-bono or on a contingency basis? Someone.....anyone?
FREDERICK, MARYLAND -- Since 2006 I have managed and worked intermittently as a technician for Meineke, store #728 in Frederick, Md. In my opinion I have been dismissed from that shop because I would not let unethical, unsafe and uneducated repairs continue and I repeatedly pointed them out to the owner and current manager. On a daily basis I have witnessed them selling rotors, brake pads and calipers that my 20 years' of experience suggest do not need to be replaced. Commonly, brake pads with as much as 7/32 of an inch left on the pads are replaced. Depending on a person's driving habits, it is common knowledge in the industry that pads with as little as 4/32 of an inch could last up to a year, yet, I have seen this shop tell customers they need to replace their pads. Regarding replacing rotors, I have seen them recommend replacing rotors that in my opinion don't need to be replaced. I suggest if you're ever sold a rotor, make sure you ask for the old part and let the mechanic know you plan to take the rotor to a safety inspector to be sure they are necessary. Typically, rotors aren't necessary to replace just because your pads need to be replaced. I believe that because the shop isn't making as much money doing honest brake jobs, they are selling parts that aren't necessary.
I have also witnessed the owner and manager do what I believe to be illegal safety inspections. They give safety certificates to people without looking at the car and put the cash in their pockets rather than putting the money through the shop. They have been putting unsafe cars that don't meet minimum safety requirements on the road to drive next to you or your children.
In my opinion because the store owner is so limited in his mechanical knowledge, many repairs go misdiagnosed costing the customer more money or worse, jeopardizing their safety and those on the road with them. I have personally witnessed mistakes, such as leaving steering couplers loose, which is a mistake that could kill someone, happen.
If you need an inexpensive exhaust repair I would completely recommend them. But, any exhaust part that needs to be replaced should be compared to another shop like your local tire store etc. No doubt there will be no savings for the customer going through Meinke. It's also important to note that they increase the cost of any part they buy for the customer by as much as 300%.
After I began to speak out about the extensive misconduct of the mechanics and manager and owner of the shop, the work environment became hostile and I was eventually ousted on bad terms. I felt I had to report them to the local state trooper and hopefully they will never be able to do a safety inspection again. Also, be aware that the Better Business Bureau gives them a D minus rating as of August 2012, on a scale of A through F. To see that information go to www.bbb.org.
I wonder if corporate gets paid for bogus inspections or all the work done under the table?
BROKEN ARROW, OKLAHOMA -- I took my Mercedes to Meinekes in Broken Arrow, OK for an oil & filter change. I asked if they had the filter and the synthetic oil needed. They said "yes." They said it would take 30 minutes. So, I waited there in the lobby. It turns out they did not have the filter and had to order it, but they did not tell me, just let me sit there waiting.
When the car was finally done, I drove it home and received a call stating that they had added 11 quarts when they should have added 8, and asked me to return. I immediately returned, they took out the overfill. However, the warning light kept coming on, so we took it back. Manager Chris said that they had corrected the problem but they would take another look at it to be sure.
When we went to pick it up he stated that the light never came on and they could find nothing wrong with the car. He stated that if the light came on again let him know and he would take it to the Mercedes shop to get them to reset the sensor. The light kept coming on and we smelled burning rubber, perhaps synthetic oil burning. So my wife called Chris who told her that after 150 miles the sensor would reset. If it did not, bring it back and he would take it to the Mercedes shop. After 150 miles we brought it back.
When I called and spoke to Chris I reminded him of his promise to take it to the Mercedes shop. He stated "OK, just bring it in." I did that Friday, 12/11/11, a little after 8 am. Chris was not there so I told the fellow at the desk that Chris was taking this to the Mercedes shop and what for. I asked how long did he think it would take and he said probably all day but I could call back later and talk to Chris.
I called back around noon to see when it would be ready and was told that it was already ready. We picked it up about 5:20 pm. We asked Chris about the burned rubber smell. He stated that was from a cracked valve cover gasket showing us oil on the manifold, the valves not being visible, and he stated it was not due to anything they had done. We thought that was odd because the valve cover gaskets had been replaced in 6/10/11.
We took the car home and the warning light was still coming on. So, today, 12/11/11, we took it back and Chris admitted that he reset the light himself and stated that we could take it to the Mercedes dealer if we wanted to, that he never said anything about taking to the Mercedes shop. He said that was "final". When I asked for his boss's name and number he would only give me the Meineke customer service number. Customer Service refuses to do anything about it.
MOUNT PROSPECT, ILLINOIS -- So I went in just to get a new muffler. My guy, Mark from Mark's Service, who is the best and cheapest honest mechanic around by the way, doesn't do mufflers. He says to go to Meineke or something. I go to this shop in Mt. Prospect. The mechanic shows me a very small hole in the converter or resonator, very small. I said to just do the muffler because it was a small hole. Later, the guy at the front desk, Gary I think, tries to get me to buy a whole exhaust system. He comes to me with just the estimate for the whole system. I said to just do the muffler. He tries to make me believe that the system will "explode" if they just install a new muffler. He says, "If we put on just the muffler, the pipe will explode from the greater pressure cause of the hole." I majored in physics for a while and I know for a fact that this is not true. In fact the small hole makes it less likely to bust a pipe due to the release of pressure. So I realized that this place was a con. I said to just install a new muffler. He says, "This place is not a chop shop. We don't do that here. The owner told me that we don't do that." So they don't weld mufflers there. Instead they just lie to you and tell you that you will die from exhaust system explosion if you don't give them more money.
They get the car off the rack. I drive off to Merlin in Elk Grove on Beisterfield: great service, nice techs; we laughed at the exploding converter hypothesis. They put the car on their rack. The Meineke tech had already started cutting my pipes! The Meineke guys just let me drive off with half of my muffler cut off without a word! The Merlin guys say that the cut is too far back for them to be able to weld a new muffler. So I call the Mt. Prospect Meineke and Gary, I think, says that they will install a new pipe for free, as they ought to.
I go in the next morning at 7am per agreement because I have an appointment with Merlin at 2pm. Gary, I think, comes out and says that the owner is inside and that he wants to give me a great deal. I say, "I don't believe a word you say. You told me that my pipes would explode. I was a physics major. Just fix what you broke." The car comes back out. Instead of a new pipe the techs just did a very bad weld job over the cut! So I say to the mechanic, "The owner's in there right? Go get the owner." He starts saying derogatory things to me! So I go in to the owner and tell him to fix the car the way that Gary, I think, had said on the phone. He says, "It's fixed. That's all I'm doing." So I yelled at him and called him a cheat and a liar. He called the cops! He thought that I would run away or something. I stayed and of course was not arrested. But obviously the police couldn't do anything about this lying, cheating, no-good, dirty, rotten, conman. Here's an interesting question: Knowing that they lied twice, how do I know that they didn't make that little hole in the converter? You can't trust people who lie multiple times! So now I have to file some kind of complaint. What a complete waste of hours of my time! And I still don't know if my muffler will fit on the shoddy weld that they made. Now I might have to sue. What a pain! Never go to this place. Tell your friends not to go to this place. Let's run this guy out of business and out of town. We don't need such conmen doing their 'business' here.
FAIRFIELD, CALIFORNIA -- As an MEINEKE EX-CUSTOMER we experienced the following at your facility on Holiday Lane.
On previous services like oil changes and other minor problems we had satisfactory service, except for following:
My wife is the primary driver of this car and noticed a squeaking noise in the steering. I was at home so they told her the brakes had to be checked.Then I received a call from the manager who said the car needed new Brakes (It had only 24,979 miles )and also: said technician found Power Steering Fluid and Brake Fluid dirty and needed change. I trusted the Mgr and gave the OK. We were charged $387.87. When I checked by previous invoices I Found that Meineke changed the Power steering Flush on 6/5/13 at ( 22,524 miles . I'm now thinking we really didn't need brakes. We no longer can trust Meineke and will take our cars another car care facility. The Chevy charges more but at least we can depend on the work. OH YES! The Impala still has the squeaking noise and is getting worse. I'm taking it to Chevy tomorrow. In conclusion I can't say that all your Managers are untrusty. There are 2 technicians that we like and trust, they are Chris and Eric. Thank you. A. Slowikowski
CATONSVILLE, MARYLAND -- I went to Meineke Thursday at 5:45 and the sign said they close at 7, so I thought I had enough time to get an oil change. Gut the guy that's the manager told me otherwise. He said we are not doing oil changes, we about to close. I said to him 7 o'clock y'all close, he said well we are closing at 6:30. That's what the owner wants and we closing at 6:30. So I said well it's enough time. He told me to come tomorrow around this time and I will try to fit you in.
So I went back Saturday around 3:30, same guy was there and now he said they stop doing oil change a few hours ago. I was mad and left. I never heard of such thing. They closed at 6 and there was only 2 cars there with 4 men. Never again.
EL CAJON, CALIFORNIA -- I recently spent over $1500 at the El Cajon, Ca to have my air conditioner fixed and a wheel alignment to fix the shaking my car did when going down hills, well the air does not work and the shakiness still exists. I took my car back to Meineke and was charged $147 to be told that my car needed braces, shocks, struts also the Air Conditioner filter is dirty.
He also said the car needs a tune up and oil change which he forgot he did a month and a half ago. He now wants $1489. I took the car home and was told he would take the $147. off the bill when I return to have the work done. Stay away from this guy, his name is Sasha. I would hate to see this happen to anyone else.
GREENWOOD, INDIANA -- I bought a very low mileage 2003 Ford Taurus from a local dealer a couple of weeks ago. After driving it for a few days, I noticed a chirping sound coming from under the hood, sometimes louder than other times. I researched this on the internet, and found the culprit to be most likely the cam synchronizer. A couple of days later, the check engine light came on.
I went to Autozone to have them read the code. It was P1131, and the guy told me that may be a tune up would take care of it. So, I called around and made an appointment at Meineke.
After dropping it off and waiting a few hours on Saturday, I called them back. He told me that he needed me to come back to the shop to talk about my car. When I got there, he told me that the cam BEARINGS were going out, that it would cost about 2500 to fix because he'd have to take the top off of the engine, that he wouldn't touch it, and that I should take it back to the dealer, since I'd only had it one week. (There is a lemon law, he stated.)
After letting it sit all weekend, I drove my husband's van to work. He took it to the service department at the dealer that morning. Later that afternoon, they called me and told me that there was a service bulletin on the cam synchronizer assembly, and that they would split the cost of the repair with me. I authorized the work, and picked up my car the next day. My total cost: $148.30. It's been running perfectly ever since.
I should have known better. The lady that was paying when I dropped my car off at Meineke had just been hit with a bill over $2000. I hope that she has better luck than most and doesn't have to take it back.
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA -- As per the advertisement of free A\C performance check, I took my (2002 model) car to one of the centers as my car's A\C was blowing hot air. After initial checkup they said, they need to apply dye to check if there is any leak in AC system. After some time they told me there is a leak which can not be fixed and I need to get my Compressor replaced. They provided an estimation of $1000 (Compressor cost, labour charge etc). I asked if R134a with leak seal mechanism will work and their answer was no. That day without any profit I had to pay $133.99. When I asked about the same they said at least with this amount the leak was identified. I said that's what the purpose of this FREE A\C Checkup should have been. I was totally disappointed.
I obviously had to give a thought before spending such a huge amount. Also, their diagnosis did not appear realistic to me. I went for diagnosis to a different car care center, and they iidentified no leak and it was only the cost of 3 cans of Freon (R134a) and nominal labour charge. My car's A\C is working fine now.
I wanted to bring this into notice of common innocent people to be cautious while opting for such free services. What could have been done within $50 could not be done in $133 and a $1000 was estimated on top of that. Please be aware!