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Unsafe car - declined repair...


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Customer comes in the other day with brakes beyond safe. She talks to her boyfriend and decline the service. We advise her that the truck is unsafe and should be towed and not driven if leaving. She talks to boyfriend and decides to drive truck away. We have her sign our declined invoice with safety disclaimer stating that we advised customer of her unsafe vehicle and she has decided to not repair and drive vehicle anyway.

 

Tech tells me that it's stupid to do that because it won't hold up if it becomes a legal issue and he thinks that it could come back on him personally.

 

Thoughts?

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I was in that same tough situation. No easy answer. Talk to an attorney about what you should do next time. I had my coach recommend not releasing the car except by towing it away. If they pitched a fit about not releasing the car, let them call the police. When they show up, explain the situation and if the cop tells you to release it, it's on him!

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Its not a good situation all around. People that are unreasonable and for the lack of a better term have a "poor person's" mentality are always going to be hard to deal with. They will claim you were trying to rip them off and then blame you for some wrong doing if something happens to them. If you choose to hold their vehicle they will probably bitch and give you a bad review. The flip side is if they get into an accident you may have to deal with some litigation. Sucks all the way around.

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Pay to have it towed. How much is a towing bill anyway? Have them sign the safety disclaimer, note it 8 different ways on the ticket, then call the tow truck company and pay to have it towed to their residence, or better yet, another shop.

 

That's exactly what I did today. I told a customer they needed a power steering pressure line 3 weeks ago and they showed back up today after a family member installed (butchered) it for them. It's a miracle it made it to my shop. I found out a pep boys takes their 'car care one' credit card and I graciously paid the tow bill to Pep boys (no need to thank me for the referral). I had her sign the invoice that said not safe to drive.

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I use a large red stamp that advises the vehicle is unsafe to drive. It also has a place for the customer to sign on. I make the customer sign both his copy and my copy. I also make it clear why it is unsafe about 3 or 4 different ways on the invoice and I time stamp the RO with the time of the advisory call.

 

Or like Gonzo says, no charge, rip up the RO, push it out onto the curb and forget any knowledge of the vehicles existence!

Edited by DanW.
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In NY and many other states you can't hold a car hostage because it's unsafe. Charge for checking it, get paid, note on the invoice "customer declined repairs, vehicle not safe for use on public roads. Vehicle must be towed." That's it, you are not responsible any more. You hand over the keys, if they don't tow it it's beyond your control. It doesn't mean you can't get sued if they crash and try and blame you but thats what your lawyer is for.

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I simply place this on the RO:

 

SAFETY WARNING
Customer was advised and understands that this vehicle is not safe to drive. Customer also understands that driving this vehicle could result in an accident, injury and/or death.



Sign:____________________________________________

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  • 1 month later...

push it to the curb, throw the keys in it, rip up the RO. "Goodbye and don't come back."

I am surprised at this from you.

One way or another, without any documentation proving that you counseled the customer that their vehicle was unsafe to operate on public roads, all they have to do is claim you told them anything they want to say. As I posted elsewhere, IF IT ISN'T IN WRITING IT WAS NEVER SAID.

 

It's amazing how crafty dishonest people can be when it comes to blaming others for their irresponsibility. And businesses are deemed to have deep pockets so they are prime targets when an accidents happen and the low-life who wouldn't repair their cars are shallow pockets. I read an article where a man refused to have his brakes repaired and blew a stop sign/light, t-boned a minivan and killed a child. The ONLY thing that saved the shop from liability was they had the man sign a statement on their invoice that he was aware the brakes were unsafe and the vehicle should not be operated on public roads. After that the man was convicted of negligent homicide. Urban legend perhaps but I do remember reading it in an industry publication but I can't find any reference in an internet search.

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I used to be in Rhode Island and they have a safety requirement to be able to drive the vehicle on public roads. When that problem arose we would call the police and they would tell the customer to tow it or repair it. Here in Arizona there is no safety requirement so all we can do is document the repair order and send them on their way.

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push it to the curb, throw the keys in it, rip up the RO. "Goodbye and don't come back."

 

This is the worst idea ever and is asking for trouble. The legal test for negligence is ignoring the duty to care in a case where a reasonably prudent person would do otherwise, and the situation caused harm.

 

Break it down

 

Did you have the opportunity to care?

Yes, vehicle was in your shop, you are an expert at automotive safety by profession, you were aware that the vehicle was unsafe

Did you care?

No, by not adequately warning and attempting to prevent operation of said unsafe vehicle you did not do what a prudent person in your position would do (see other responses above for other options)

Was there harm?

Don't know, but are you willing to take the chance? What happens if someone gets killed, we all know its possible. What if a situation like TheTrustedMechanic posted happens?

 

The bottom line is you are much better documenting the diagnosis, stating clearly that it is unsafe and charging for your time, even if its only $10 or $20 and estimating the repair. If your state have vehicle safety laws you can go the added length of demanding it be towed. By allowing the customer to drive off you are witnessing a legal violation that could cause serious harm and could also be negligent by not alerting the Police.

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  • 4 months later...

Contact your insurance company and ask them for liability management or loss prevention. They will draft a policy, approve your policy, draft a disclaimer, or approve your disclaimer. You are then covered by your insurance company and have proof in writing.

 

Insurance companies are difficult when you have a loss but are also loss prevention experts, use them its free.

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Contact your insurance company and ask them for liability management or loss prevention. They will draft a policy, approve your policy, draft a disclaimer, or approve your disclaimer. You are then covered by your insurance company and have proof in writing.

 

Insurance companies are difficult when you have a loss but are also loss prevention experts, use them its free.

 

This is brilliant, thank you.

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Contact your insurance company and ask them for liability management or loss prevention. They will draft a policy, approve your policy, draft a disclaimer, or approve your disclaimer. You are then covered by your insurance company and have proof in writing.

 

Insurance companies are difficult when you have a loss but are also loss prevention experts, use them its free.

 

Good thinking, always use the resources at your disposal. :thumbsup:

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
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      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
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