WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA -- Last spring, I was having trouble with my vehicle skipping and jerking when it took off. I took it to the Aamco Transmissions shop on University Parkway in Winston-Salem, NC for to have a “free” diagnostic test done. Manager [snip] contacted me later that day and informed me that I had some “internal transmission problems.” He said he needed to do an internal diagnostic test to be sure what exactly these illusive problems entailed. The internal test cost nearly $500 and required the transmission to be removed from the car. In my naivety, I trusted the manager’s words and agreed to have the work performed. [snip] advised me that he would help me negotiate the warranty for the car to have the work covered. This was a Friday afternoon. I asked if I could come and pick the car up and bring it back the following Monday, as the shop was closed on the weekends, but [snip] said he couldn’t promise it would be covered by the warranty if driven off the lot, and strongly advised me not to move it. Around closing time that evening, we discovered that my car was not covered under warranty and I made the decision to have the internal diagnostic test done. I was told that work might begin as early as the next day.
Upon leaving the shop that evening, it took one phone call for me to encounter someone who had had a negative experience with the very same shop. I was cautioned not to trust the company, and to recover my car right away. I immediately called the shop--this was about 10 minutes after I had left. My call was forwarded to a voicemail (the manager and owner take turns answering calls after hours).
I left a message rescinding my permission to repair the car and imploring the recipient, whom I later discovered was [snip], the owner of the establishment, to return the call. Subsequent phone calls yielded no response.
The next morning around 8:00 a.m., I traveled to the shop in hopes of encountering a mechanic who could release my vehicle. When I found no one on the premises, I again called the shop number, this time getting [snip] in the flesh. [snip] apologized profusely, saying that [snip] was out of town and he was not sure he would be able to get in touch with him. While [snip] told me he “wished he could help” me, his hands were tied, he said. There was nothing he could do. He promised to keep calling [snip] and leaving voice messages. I wrote two notes to the mechanics at the shop and posted them on the front and bay doors, as advised by [snip] (when pressed).
I returned to the shop later that afternoon and observed that my car had been moved on the risers; my notes had obviously been ignored.
That Monday morning, I called the shop only to learn that my transmission had been removed, despite my pleas to suspend its service. I was told by [snip] that no one had seen my notes.
Desperate to recover my car and avoid incurring any further costs, I agreed to pay the exorbitant amount of $400 in labor fees that [snip] said he could not avoid charging me. No internal diagnostic test had been performed, I was told, and so in essence, I paid $400 for the right to take my car back.
Feeling unsettled by the way the whole situation occurred and by the way that [snip] virtually begged me to leave the car in his care, I drove straight to a mechanic that I trusted to have it checked out.
Within minutes, my mechanic discovered that the shifter cable on my transmission had been snapped and was replaced with plastic zip ties.
Furious, I returned to the shop to confront [snip], who was unmoved by my anger and seemed largely unsurprised by my findings. He goaded me and told me to “sue him” if I saw fit. He said that he would fix the part, but I no longer trusted his word or the work of his mechanics.
After much investigation, I tracked [snip] down and discovered that he was the owner of the shop. [snip] never apologized for what happened to me and offered little assistance or concern, saying only that he would “talk to” [snip].
I later called the corporate office, only to find them equally unhelpful. Weeks of phone calls to every conceivable person led only to the conclusion I had reached on my own: my only option was to allow the shop to replace the part.
The part has been on back order since February and I am still awaiting my repair. I later learned that my all my transmission needed was a $12 gasket, which my non-mechanic boyfriend discovered by simply crawling underneath the car and looking.
This is the worst customer service experience I have ever had, by far. I am not a wealthy woman, and this experience has been the source of great emotional strain and angst for me. I have lost my faith in businesses and still get a sick feeling in my stomach every time I pass the shop. It is my hope that sharing my story will spare some other trusting soul the unrest I still endure.