Matt from Parise's Automotive and Towing (out of Batavia NY) responded to my AAA emergency call today and transported my 2001 Honda Accord and myself to Dick Ide Honda on Panorama Trail from milemarker 397 on the I-90W. As Matt was taking my car off of the flatbed, I noticed a piece of metal hanging from the bottom of the front end of my car. It was a heat shield. I told the service advisor inside that I started hearing an awful sound as I was driving down the thruway, that the service engine light came on around the same time, and that since I received a letter last winter about the civil suit against Honda for tranny problems, I was worried that it might be the beginning of said problem. He didn't know anything about the civil suit. Odd, as he works at a Honda dealership. (For info. on suit and settlement, click here: http://www.hondatransmissionsettlement.com/php/login.php)
I conceded that the noise I heard could have been the heat shield dragging and that the light may have only went on because I needed an oil change. But, I wanted the car checked out anyway and asked that the mechanics also did a tire rotation, oil change, and inspection. The wait time was only supposed to be an hour, but I had a ride and needed to get home to get some work done, so I left my car there. Big mistake.
My car was taken into the shop around 2:20. By 2:45, I was already home and had a voicemail from Jeff, the service advisor. He said the sound was coming from the heat shield, but also claimed that my car had failed inspection--the front brake pads and rotors were "completely gone." This problem, he told me, may also have been the noise I heard. The news was surprising as I haven't had any problems with my brakes, haven't heard any noise when I turn my wheels, and wasn't told when I last had an oil change that I would need to replace them soon. (The fellas at Firestone try to sell me EVERYTHING, even THEY didn't try to get a brake and rotor job out of me. If they could have, they would have.) So, I called Jeff and he reiterated what he had said on my (saved) voicemail: brake pads and rotors completely gone; it would cost $430 to replace them with Honda parts. I admitted my suspicion that something shady was going on, but also authorized the work with the condition that my parts got saved so I could get them back. Then, I got smart and called my mechanic, who advised that I let Dick Ide fail the inspection and have my mechanic do the brake job (for $270). Back on the phone with Jeff, I told him I didn't want them to do the brake pads and rotors; he said "the mechanic already took them off and just handed them to me." This, I believe, was a ploy to get me to allow the work. I told him that was fine, but I wanted the mechanic to put the parts back on . . . I'd pay for the oil change, inspection, and tire rotation only. Well, seems that Jeff wasn't anticipating my decision on the work. Soon after I spoke with him and he assured me the parts would be put back on, he called again to tell me that they couldn't be--one of my rotors was ruined; he claimed it was so badly rusted that it broke apart when the mechanic was removing it. I guess he forgot that he had lied to me and said the parts were HANDED to him, because when I asked why he hadn't told me before, he had a different story, which involved not having the parts handed to him, but going into the garage to speak to the mechanic, who told him that the rotor had broke and couldn't go back on.
Jeff made a deal with me: because he "didn't want [me] to think I was being taken advantage of," he was willing to give me 2 free rotors if I paid the $79 something for the 2 new brake pads and the $109 for labor. Quite a drop from $430. The brake and rotor job would add up to $190- something if I took his deal. Well, I didn't want his deal. It was clear that I was being screwed around and that there was NO NEED to replace my pads or rotors to begin with. I mentioned speaking with the Better Business Bureau. (I'm going to tomorrow.) But I still had to tell him what to do. So I told him to put my old pads and rotor back on and to replace the broken rotor. He then quoted me $220 for the job, which didn't include the tire rotation, oil change, inspection, and fix of the heat shield. Because he was doing nothing but verbal acrobatics and strong-arming me into making a decision, I told him it was fine and hung up.
My fiance, whom the car is registered to, called Jeff from work and told him otherwise. The guy tried to plead his case--that I had authorized the work--as if the work was really warranted--and that it had all been a "misunderstanding" on my part. I'm a graduate student, not a flighty, brainless little girl. But I guess when a young woman walks into a car service center, that's all they see: an easy target. Jeff ended up telling another lie: to me, he said I had 2 millimeters left on my brake pads; he told my fiance I had 4. After getting his ### sufficiently reemed by my fiance, he quoted the work at $180 TOTAL.
We're picking the car up tomorrow and I'm taking it to my mechanic to make sure that all that was supposed to be done was done. The ONLY reason Dick Ide even touched my car was because I thought the problem could be tranny-related.
I strongly recommend NOT going to Dick Ide Honda for any reason. They're nothing but legitimate scam artists. They are not even AAA approved, which I didn't realize until after I took my car there (John Holtz Honda is).