Have you ever paid in advance for a service you had yet to receive, only to get screwed over in the end? Those of us who have been on the short side of this stick know that it’s never a fun experience! Fruh-strey-shun!
As some of you already know, my wife and I have been a one car couple for over 8 months now. After an auto accident, my 2001 Jeep Cherokee was hurtin’ for certain. The initial estimates were that the repairs would cost about $4,000 more than the Jeep was worth.
In other words, my car was totaled. This did not stop me. I found a “friend of a friend” that could do the whole job, parts and labor for $3,500. This body mechanic had done some work for me before, was a little slow, but always came through without any major problems. Then I gave him my Jeep…
Did I pay him in advance?
Yes. Well… partly. I only gave him enough money to buy the necessary parts, which ended up being $2,500. He was able to do the repairs for so much less than the other body shop because he was picking up a majority of the parts from local junk yards, and charging less than half for labor.
Before proceeding further I should mention a few things for the record:
- I was not fully insuring the vehicle against collision damage; at the time of the accident I was carrying only personal liability and comprehensive coverage.
- The cost for repairs at the other body shop was over $9,000 which I was simply not going to pay.
- The body mechanic I ended up using works out of his home in his spare time and does decent work, but has turned out to be incredibly unreliable.
Did I get a receipt?
Yes. I have a written receipt from him stating that I gave him $2,500 for car parts that I have not yet received. I have checked up on the mechanic many, many, many, many times to ensure that he is continuing to make progress and that he has indeed used the money to buy the parts for the Jeep.
I have dropped by his house a few times to see the progress with my own eyes, and have called him at least 25 times over the last 8 months (which is nearly once per week). We’ve both become very frustrated with the whole situation. Me for obvious reasons, and him because I keep pressuring him to get the work done. I believe he’s frustrated by his own lack of work ethic and performance. He winds up giving me a different excuse every time I talk to him.
I am a patient man, but I have no use for this type of behavior — especially when it comes to a business transaction. I’m trying very hard to remain patient and calm through the whole matter and cut the guy more slack. At the end of the day, however, I need to my truck back along with something to show for my money spent.
The other day he blew up at me over the phone – swearing, ranting, and raving. He even told me to come over and “kick his a$$” if I wanted my truck back. He apologized soon after his outburst and said that he was under a lot of pressure and on some new medication.
I told him that I’m sorry if I’m annoying to him, but that I really want my truck back. My hands are tied since I’ve already paid him such a large portion of the repair costs, so I’m at the mercy of his poor work ethic.
So what’s the answer?
I have learned four very solid lessons through this whole ordeal that I will take with me through the rest of my life, and will also gladly pass on to you…
- Pay for quality. Don’t shop solely based on price. A low price is a good thing, but sometimes the trouble that can come along with it far outweighs the money saved.
- Don’t rush into business with the unknown. Before you “strike hands” or agree to do business with someone, make sure you’re confident that they’ll uphold their end of the bargain.
- Always get a receipt. If you are paying for parts or labor in advance, make sure you ALWAYS procure written and signed documentation of the transaction.
- Prepare yourself emotionally for the worst. There’s always a chance that you’ll end up getting screwed over in the end. Remember that it’s only money, and that it’s not the end of the world. Is it a pain? Most definitely, but you can always overcome.
“Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some. We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing.” ~ Eric Hoffer
I was supposed to get my Jeep back by the middle of August, but I am still Jeep-less. The mechanic continues to give me excuses while assuring me that he’ll be done soon. At this point, I don’t really care one way or the other. I’ve emotionally separated myself from the situation, so if anything positive happens at this point I will view it as an unexpected blessing.