Billy Nelson's AutoRepair/Sam's Towing Complaint - Payment for No Service

Review by HonestRater on 2007-03-27
TAMPA, FLORIDA -- On March 26 at 10am, I had my car towed from the VA Medical Center (where I study as a nursing student) to Billy Nelson's Auto Repair shop. I chose this location because it was walking distance from my home and small business owned. By 3pm, I hadn't received a call from them so I called and was put on hold for about twenty minutes, while they stated they would find out what they found. After waiting and worrying, I hung up and got scared and decided to drive there. My car was not being looked at and was in a corner of their shop. I asked why no one had called; the manager then went around the shop asking anyone what was going on with my car. Finally, I was told in estimate(1st) it would cost $40 for towing, $75 for a diagnostic, and was told parts($98 neutral switch and $229 for a starter) and services/labor ($75/each item), totaling $570. When driving away in my roommates car to find money, I was approached with a new bill for $650(2nd estimate), he forgot(?) to add labor for 1 item. By the way, I never signed anything. I went back there within fifteen minutes to say I could not afford that much and could not find money to borrow; I'm a student just trying to make it on school loans. I asked if they could just tow it back to my home 4 blocks away and I would pay for towing and diagnostic, even though I told them it was the starter. They then stated that I would now have to pay $230 for towing both ways ($80) and now a new two diagnostics for $75 each item diagnosed appearing on my now third estimate. I questioned that it wasn't on the first estimate for two diagnostics, he told me I had to pay cash today or I would be charged $30/night if it was kept there without getting service. (There was also a sign on their wall that said "$30/night charge after three days of completion of service" for keeping your car there. I was told I "didn't understand how car shops worked" and they "are like doctors offices." So I gave in at about 4:30pm, payed the $230, which became $250 after an additional "shop supplies" charge($8.05) and sales tax was added ($16.66), and told them at 4:30pm to tow my car home; the manager said "consider it done." I told them I needed to go to St. Petersburg to pick up the person who's car I had borrowed all day and they said it would be home when I got there. I got home again at 7pm, no car. Therefore, I called they said, "first thing tomorrow morning." Today, it is 12 noon; I have no non-working car in my driveway and fear that I will now be charged even more for no service, except those now two diagnostics. I don't know what to do and fear that I will be charged. Lastly and with regret; I have always tried to support the small business owner, but that was the biggest mistake I have made obviously and will not make it again. They are advertised as NAPA certified and licensed; I thought that could be trusted.
Comments:2 Replies - Latest reply on 2007-03-27
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-03-27:
Call the police! It's too bad you didn't do it while you were still at the shop the first time.
Posted by Shakra on 2007-03-27:
They would probably say it was a civil matter. Go to small claims instead.

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