What Would You Do? July 2014

Every shop owner runs into ‘situations.’ How they handle them is important … do you agree with these fellow ASA members?

We had a customer whose air conditioner stopped working while he was driving through town.

When a customer’s A/C doesn’t work, we never sell a “recharge” – we always sell a “test the A/C system.” The “testing” involves evacuating and recharging the system for which we charge one hour plus refrigerant (the system was almost empty).

After charging the system, we couldn’t get the A/C pump to function because the line pressures were out of spec. We then evacuated and recharged the system again with the same result. Finally, we evacuated the system and informed the customer the vehicle would need additional repairs.

Because the customer was trying to get home, he didn’t have time for us to go further. So we charged the customer for one hour, even though we had performed the service twice.

A month later, we received an email from the customer stating he had taken the vehicle to his regular shop and that the shop had charged the system and everything was working just fine. He threatened to post a bad review if we didn’t remedy the situation.

What would you do?


Rod Burtch, AAM, owner, Pro-Tech Automotive Inc., Denton, Texas – “As always, communication is the key. I would communicate on the paperwork – as well as in person – what we did. Then write down clearly on his invoice what we found and what would be our next/further action.

“Having said that, I have had an instance where one set of gauges/machine were not seated on that particular vehicle, so I was receiving bad information from the gauges. I have also had a ‘machine’ indicate low refrigerant charge and not charge the vehicle like I thought it was doing.

“So, after calling the other shop, I would make my decision. If it indeed were due to a faulty diagnosis/work from my shop, I would refund the charge. If not, I would try to communicate to the vehicle owner why I felt we were justified in charging what we did.

“As far as the bad review – you can always answer the review with the facts.”


Gerry Vicario, owner, One Stop Auto Care, Los Angeles – “I would refund the customer’s money, as long as the customer provides a copy of the cost for the recharge work done by the other shop. It looks like our machine or tech dropped the ball.

“I always want the customer to be happy, even if they are not our regular customer.”

How T.J. Reilly, AAM, handled it:

First of all, in a situation like this, it’s really easy to be offended and react defensively. We had gone the extra mile and hadn’t charged the customer for all the work we performed and now the customer wants to defame us. However, reacting defensively would totally have been the wrong course of action.

We needed to hear what the other shop had to say about this before we could respond to the customer, so we called them. The other shop felt we did everything we could. They even told the customer the problem might reoccur.

We then called the customer and explained everything to them. Their email response: “I think we are cool. I appreciate your wanting to go the extra mile. In this case, I believe I now understand the discrepancy … namely that the orifice was clogged when I brought it in, but 400 miles later had unclogged itself. Since that is a reasonable explanation of events, I do not ask anything more of you. I believe it would be unethical on my part to demand a refund or something like that when it is clear that you did the best you could, given the situation. Your rate was fair and I knew it was a gamble from the start. So I appreciate the offer, but will respectfully decline. Thanks for your assistance! I will likely write positive Yelp feedback regarding my experience and your willingness to assist.”