Tipton Honda - El Cajon, CA / Fraudulent business activities
On 6/16/07 I had my car towed to Tipton Honda in El Cajon, CA. I spoke with Roger the Assistant Service Manager. I informed him of the problem with my car (it would turn over just not fire) and he indicated that they would perform a diagnostic analysis to determine what was wrong. The cost of the diagnostic check was $90.00. I left the car at about 9:00 am. At approximately 3:00 pm I received a call from Roger. He informed me that the battery and battery cables were corroded and would need to be replaced before they could do a diagnostic test. I informed him that the battery and battery cables were fine they simply needed to be cleaned with baking soda and water. However he strongly disagreed and went on to say the battery is weak. I told him the battery was weak because my brother and I spent about an hour trying to fix what was wrong (we would try something then try to turn over the engine). But again he indicated that nothing could be done to my car unless the battery and battery cables replaced. He quoted me approximately $85 for a new battery; $45 to put it in; $139 for one battery cable and the second one was $35 plus $180 (two hours at $90 per hour) to put them in for a grand total of approximately $484 before they could perform the diagnostic testing plus the $90 diagnostic test (total thus far: $574) plus the cost for whatever they determined was wrong with the vehicle. I stated to him that I would come down to the dealer and clean the battery and cables but he indicated that I could not do this. So finally I told him forget it I will have the car towed back my house.
When I arrived at the lot it was obvious that my car never made it to the garage. I figured this out by the angle my car was in the parking place and were it was left by the tow truck driver - Tipton Honda simply opened the hood of my car saw the corrosion and decided that I needed a new battery and battery cables.
once the car was home, my brother and I cleaned the battery terminals and battery cables - charged up the battery - as good as new.
Ultimately, I took my car to San Carlos Auto Repair on Lake Murray Blvd (after researching the owner Brian Sniffin and San Carlos Auto Repair). He fixed the problem (bad coil) - the cost was approx. $220.00 - he never indicated that I needed a new battery and battery cables. In fact, I am driving my car with the same battery and battery cables - it works fine.
What really bothers me is if I was a senior citizen or other citizen who had no one to turn to regarding car advice or had knowledge about cars - I could have very easily been ripped off for $484. They knew I towed my car in and probably figured they had me but what they did not know is I get four free tows per year with my Cingular agreement.
Tipton Honda of El Cajon needs to be confronted about this type of behavior. According to the BAR, they closed 139 garages last year in California for this type (attempting to sell unnecessary repairs) and other types of fraudulent activity. I will stand behind my statements.