Riverside Automotive Complaint - Car Estimate Leads To Car Damage
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN -- I recently decided to sell my Ford Explorer. I spent an entire weekend looking it over to help determine a fair price for the vehicle. Also it just started leaking coolant so I thought it would be a good idea to get an estimate to find out what is wrong and how much it would cost to have it fixed. It was my thought that it was a head gasket but better to find out for sure before offering it up for sale. Riverside Automotive is three blocks from my house and as far as I knew had an excellent reputation. I was told it would cost $36.00 for a pressure test of the cooling system. Fair enough, thats about what I had guessed.
My wife and I brought the vehicle in and an hour later receive a phone call from the owner. He tells my wife that it is a head gasket issue. He then tells asks her if there had been any trouble with the hood latch. She answers no because we had just had the hood up that morning to add coolant for the trip over to the shop. He then informs her that the hood latch is broken and they can't close the hood. He then tells her that this is our responsibility and his rate is $80.00/hour! He won't let us leave with the vehicle with the hood in this condition due to safety. The hood was fine when brought in! He also adds that because its a used car that the opening and closing of the hood is what caused the issue. She asks what he thinks the problem is and now he says that they can't get the hood open. She responds that she thought he just said he couldn't get it closed so which one is it. Is it a problem of opening or closing?
My wife did the right thing in my opinion and told him not to do anything and that we would be right there to pick up the vehicle. We walked over being that it is so close. As we approached the shop we saw the truck parked on the street and walked up to see if we could look at the hood latch issue. As soon as we get close we both notice a multitude of scratches covering the hood. Two of the scratches are deep and about 2 inches long and the other scratches look as if they were caused by something moving in a circular pattern (swirl markings). We are POSITIVE these were not there before bringing the car into the shop! The car had been in a garage for the past week, not driven, after we had thoroughly looked it over for possible sale. NOBODY had been near it except ourselves and the shop employees and we know every scratch and dent on that vehicle. Needless to say were were very angry when we entered the shop.
We walk in and the owner tells us that he fixed the hood latch. My wife says thats great but what about the fresh scratches on the hood of the truck. The owner comes out to look and immediately says that he and his guys had nothing to do with them even though they are obviously fresh (no dirt or rust of any kind in them) and have hand prints on them like somebody rubbed their hands on those scratches to wipe away the paint that was scratched off. An argument then starts with us on one side and the owner on the other.
He screams at us that this car has miles on it and it must have happened in our possession. When we continue to argue he asks if this is really our car or if he needs to talk to our parents about this. I assume he thought we were too young to own the vehicle or something. We outright paid for this vehicle and are not as young as we look. When we won't back down he gets about 3 inches from my wife's face and screams at her that this car has miles on it and we must have done the damage, trying to intimidate her. I was so angry at this point that I almost pushed him down but it occurred to me that this is probably what he wanted so that he could look like the victim (people were coming out of their houses to watch what was happening).
I then told him that we were going to contact the Better Business Bureau and every other consumer advocate group that we could find and he visibly changed his attitude. He gave us the keys and told us no charge for the pressure test. If he wasn't guilty why did he change his tune? Why did he 'fix' the 'broken' hood latch for free? I think he thought we'd be so grateful we'd leave and never notice the scratches until it was too late. We still don't know what we plan to do about this situation but I definitely wanted to tell others about our experience with this company. I've never been treated so horribly by a car repair shop, especially by the owner of the establishment. I'm also kind of upset that he 'fixed' the hood latch after my wife told him not to do anything. Covering his tracks or trying to pull a fast one?