Refusal to pay-What Can Happen?

Updated on March 19, 2012
A.G. asks from Boca Raton, FL
17 answers

Took my car to the dealership today w/extended warranty at11:30. Signed authorization for them to diagnose the car and was told it was a $120 but if warranty company paid for the repairs it would be free. I was told he would call about 3 and let me know what was going on but no call. I called him at 4 and said if they cannot diagnose it by 5 the warranty company would be closed and they are closed on Saturday and that I needed my car back. He asked me to bring it back Monday. I said no, I have two kids, car seats, school, and work full time. It either had to be done now or not at all. He said he couldn't gurantee that it would be done in time so I told him to forget about the whole thing and send the shuttle. Shuttle arrives at my house at 5:15 and he calls to tell me they are done and warranty wants to send an inspector out on monday. I said I could only do it April 6. He said claim would have to be closed out and a new one opened but the same thing would happen all over again and they would have to rediagnose it. My husband got there about 6 to pick up the car and we refused to pay the diagnostic fee because at 4 I told them to forget the whole thing given the time. When I dropped my car off no one said a diagnosis will take a whole day. What can happen now? Should I try to continue working with them. They are located so far from my house and there is another dealership that is closer? I have been to this dealership before and had all work done int he same day.

Update: They diagnosed the car at 5:15 after I told them to forget the whole thing at 4. No repairs were made.

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answers from Sacramento on

To add to what Jim said, I would contact the warranty company a few days before the dealership appointment. Let them know what happened today and see if they can schedule someone to go look at my car the day its in the shop. At that point, you can also find out about rental coverage.

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answers from Houston on

I was in this business for 12+ yrs so I will try to help explain some things.
Your extended warranty has a threshold dollar amount for repairs that can be done without a visual inspection. Whatever has been found with your car obviously requires the warranty company to send out an inspector. THIS is totally normal and not at all uncommon, like I said when the dollar amount for repair gets up there.
The service advisor dropped the ball on keeping you in the loop on what is going on.
A diagnosis can take an entire day, or days or weeks. The technician has to duplicate your exact concern for the repair to be made, they can't 'guess'.
If you can't get the car back to them until April 6, that is 20 days from now. A LOT can happen with the car and its current condition.
Some extended warranty companies will allow for a rental car.
I understand your frustration, trust me, I've been on both sides of it.
To answer your question, you signed the repair authorizing the diag/$120. If you refuse to pay, they CAN keep your car.
Good Luck

15 moms found this helpful


answers from Madison on

A technician took the time to diag your car and you are not paying rude.
That person worked on your car...would you like if you worked a couple of hours and not get paid...ya I don't think so.

you obviously have no idea about the field. you don't just take a car in and assume it will be, now, now especially if you did NOT set up an apointment which it doesn't sound like you did.

Go back to the dealership and pay the technician who worked on your car...and then take any beef you have out on the service writer. The technician did nothing wrong.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I agree with everything that everyone is telling and sorry if it seems a little harsh. My husband is a technician at a dealership, they charge customers an hour of labor for diagnostic but he only get's a small percentage of that. When they diagnose your car it takes a technician longer then an hour. If you don't pay the 120 the technician doesn't get paid. My husband spent 3 hours diagnosing a car the other day he only got paid an hour of labor for it, that means he made 17$ for three hours of work. They hook up a computer that gives them a code but that only helps a technician narrow it down. If you don't pay them then the technician that has a family to take care of just like you doesn't earn anything for his hard work. The service writers work of the commision of all the mechanics so they still make something. The technician is the one that gets nothing. I'm not blaming you I just want you to see the side of who it affects if you don't pay. There has been many days were my husband was at work for 9 hours and only flagged 3, they don't get paid hourly they get paid what's called flat rate or peice work, you can look this up to better understand it. Thank god for us today is his last day at the dealership he's at and he now found a lot better job. Also these extended warranties are great for the consumers and the dealerships because they make the money off of them upfront. For the technicians it cuts they're hours so they do the same job for a lot less. Pay the 120 and take the car somwhere else if you are not happy with the service, this is all you do. Good luck

Edit: I spoke with my husband he said that you should'nt be charged the diagnostic fee once repairs are made but the dealership can't repair anything until the warranty company does they're inspection. The reason why they were trying to charge you for the diagnostic is because no repair was done so they have to charge you out for the diagnoses that they performed. He said if you speak with the service manager and make a big enough stink they will usually cave and let it go. When they perform diagnostics on a warrantied car it takes forever because the technician is stuck on the phone with them forever while the warranty company asks them a million questions from some book they have to determine if they want to even send someone out there to look at it. He works for Toyota so this is how things work with them, I don't know the make of your car. Also a lot of the service writers wich is the guy you talked to drop the ball all the time when it comes to communication because it get's busy and they forget to call customers back. If they let you take the car without paying something or leaving any way for you to be charged you may be ok. He's seen his service managers give customers free service all the time after they got huffy and puffy because one hour of labor doesnt mean anything to them, they are salary, only the tech is losing his pay and time. Just thought i'd put in his two cents, hope this helped a bit.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

What Jim said!

Why did you go to the dealership that was further away in the first place?

When you dropped it off did you ask how long it would take? Communication works both ways. When I take my car in, like I am doing tonight, I drop it off the night before so they can get on it first thing and I ask when I should expect it ready.

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answers from Los Angeles on

IF you signed something authorizing the diagnostic fee you have to pay them, event though you verbally told them to forget it. The same thing happened to my sister with her van, and when she complained that no one told her how looooong it would take she was asked if she asked them, hello! :-/

Legally if you don't pay the fee they can put it on your credit report as it was a service rendered, if you signed anything they have your authorization, and this is if they give you your car.

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answers from Las Vegas on

11:30 is rather late in the day to have work done same day, even if it is just a diagnosis. The shop likely opens at 7:00 a.m. and cars are probably lined up as early as 6:30 a.m. Then you have to imagine getting the car pulled around to the back and logged in and dispatched to a tech. It's almost lunch time and they do get to eat. Then your car isn't the only broken car in that shop. At 11:30 I would imagine most techs are already in the middle of a job. That shop because each type repair has different trained techs. You don't want a break man repairing your tranny or vise versa. You know the old thing about, sorry you have had to wait, but we promise you the same great service when it is your turn. You wouldn't want a tech to tear your car engine apart, push it back while torn down, and then diagnose someone else's car and come back to yours later. It just doesn't work.

So to sum everything up, you signed for a daig of $120, yet told them to stop repairs, so it is rather iffy with who is right and who is wrong. Did your husband pick up the car? Did you use their shuttle service? Did he pay for the diag? Usually when a car is picked up, the claim is closed and reopened when the car arrives again. Think in terms of an audit. Open tickets and no vehicle.

You chose that dealership despite the distance, so why not finish there. They have done the diagnosis and said the fee would be applied, but where will they apply it if you take it to another dealership. At that point they will likely want to charge you. They couldn't be that far away from your home since both you and your husband made the trip out there and back home.

You can ask for the service director and politely tell him/her what you are upset about, but at this point I don't think taking too long is reason enough to not pay. Maybe because you asked them to stop the work, but I believe he did it anyway to help you out, not to cause you to be more upset.

I totally understand the working, going to school, being Mom and having Mom duties, but you can't expect them to run shop by doing a free diagnosis. That is the reason they you don't let them use their computers, machines, tools, and knowledge to tell the alley garage what needs to be repaired.

I understand you are frustrated, but I think you should give them the chance to do the repairs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Did they diagnose and fix the car? I'm confused by your post.

Too many questions to be answered before can accurately answer your question. Did they fix the car? Sounds like they only diagnosed it. If so then you can pay for the diagnosis and go somewhere else. I doubt that the warranty is going to pay for 2 diagnosis.

How long a diagnosis takes depends on the work load for that day as well as the shop it's self and it's policy and how difficult it is to find the cause. Did you ask how long it would take? It's not fair to them that you not pay them based on the length of service, especially if they didn't tell you it would be ready by the end of the day.

I suggest they were trying to be helpful to finish up the diagnosis. It may also be that they had started the diagnosis earlier in the day and finished it up at 5:15. It's also possible that the person you talked with was unaware that the diagnosis was in process. You sounded upset. did you hang up before getting all the information.

I don't think you can compare the two shops because the shops were dealing with different problems which could make a difference in how long the diagnosis would take.

Why didn't you take the car to the earlier dealership since it is closer and you had good service?

I suggest that the diagnosis has to be paid either by you or the warranty. I would think they did not give you the car because you didn't pay. If they gave you your car, consider yourself lucky. You owe it to them to work out payment for the diagnosis.

I suggest you call the warranty people and find out what they will pay before deciding to remain with the same shop or take it to the other one.

Why not rent a car? My daughter's warranty includes a car rental for while repairs are being done. If yours doesn't, look into renting from Rent a Wreck. You can get a reasonable, tho not new, car for not very much. Mine was around $25 a few years ago. Or ask the dealership if they have a loaner you could use.

I would first, call the warranty company and find out what is what with them. Then, if the dealership has the car, I'd rent a car and have them make the repairs. If they don't have the car, I'd still return the car to save a second diagnosis charge.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Well, I don't think you have to refuse to pay I think you can just talk to a manager and explain why you don't feel like you conferred a benefit from their service. In other words you can negotiate away the price.

In some states, though, mechanic's can place a mechanics lien on your car and can actually repossess it and sell it to satisfy your bill--though I don't know what the specific requirements are for that.

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answers from Kansas City on

i am sure they would have much preferred to get it done for you in a timely manner. have you ever worked in customer service before? no one wants a pizzy customer refusing to pay. try to cut them a break. things happen. if you can find someone else to do it quickly, great. but they did a service for you after you were rude to them and told them to "just forget it" (or while you were telling someone that, who knows, point is it got done) so if i were you i'd feel a little sheepish about acting like that, pay the bill, and get over it. you're going to cause yourself a lot more headache if you keep fighting it. like i said i am sure they would have liked it to be done quicker and made you a happy customer, too.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Car dealership service departments aren't like a drive thru window!

I think you're being a little unreasonable. Obviously they are going to need some time.
Does your insurance cover a rental? Will they give you a loaner car?

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answers from San Francisco on

Personally, if I told them at 4:00 not to do anything else, then I would not pay for anything they did after that. The work was not authorized. I suppose they could send you an invoice and after you don't pay, refer you to collection and report you to the credit agencies. If that happens, you need to write a letter disputing the claim to the collection agency and also to the 3 credit bureaus.

I would just take the car to the closer dealership and start all over. It seems to me that they continued with the diagnoses thinking that if they did it, you would have to return to them for the repairs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Sorry, I agree with the other posters that you should pay for the diagnotic. It is the right thing to do. It sounds like your frustrated with the warranty co.

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answers from Houston on

Talk to the manager. They really don't like the bad press that an unhappy customer can make. Also, if you've had work done there before, they typically can see your repair history and identify you as a customer they don't want to lose over a $120 diagnostic fee. Just don't go in swinging. Go in with an attitude that you are unsatisfied with the experience and would like to discuss how to correct it.

Yes, diagnostics can take all day. ESPECIALLY if you drop it off instead of waiting. Waiters ALWAYS take priority. It depends on what the issue is. I know some think it's as simple as hooking up a computer and reading what's wrong, but it's really not. My husband was a mechanic and seemed to be one of the few in the dealership who could diagnose vehicles that others couldn't.

Unfortunately, many many mechanics are "part replacers." They don't actually know what's wrong, but replacing "this part" before seemed to work, so let's give that a try. If it doesn't work, they're stumped. And often, diagnosing means finding the fix - not just finding what's wrong b/c sometimes that's impossible without finding the fix.

Unfortunately, and especially when you're dealing with extended warranty, your repair is not guaranteed to happen within the same day.



answers from Miami on

You need to contact the warranty company directly as well as the supervisor



answers from Denver on

Go to the top and tell them the problem and the way you were treated. Ask for names and titles. Demand the name of the person in charge. Tell them this is unexceptable and you would like all charges removed. If they offer to fix the situation tell them you will give them another chance if they provide a courtesy car for you to use. If they don't work with you, send them a registered letter stating what happened and that you will not be paying and that you would like a written response to your letter. If it is not in writing- it didn't happen. Written letters are acceptable in small claims court should you need to persue that. Make sure to include dates, phone conversations, action by the garage in your letter.


answers from Dallas on

Devil's advocate here.....
When you spoke to him at 4 had they even started the diagnostics? If so, then you owe.
If he said they had not gotten to it yet (which sounds like the case if he asked you to bring it back Monday) and you said to forget it, then you should not have to pay. I suggest you call the service manager at the dealership and explain all this and come to some sort of agreement. Make sure you have specifics, who you spoke to, what time, etc. The more details you have to support your side, the better. I lived with a GM mechanic and he was a snake. Was always telling me about how they would bill for a job that was a large amount of flag hours when it turned out to be a totally different job that paid much less. And he wasn't the only one, the whole service department at that dealership was in on it. They would charge for new parts and use ones off wrecked vehicles, etc. Thank goodness I married a self-taught mechanic and I don't have to deal with all that, but I digress.....

But beware, refusal to pay can result in the dealership putting a mechanic's lein on your car.

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