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Car damaged at shop-need advice

I need some advice-preferably from shop owners, but as always, all opinions are welcome. Here's some backround.

I take my car to a local indy Porsche only shop. I think they do very good work and they have a good club following. The owner/mechanic is very involved in the club and does tech inspections at DEs. Overall he's a great guy as far as I can tell. The shop is located not too far from me, which is huge because I live in rural Wisconsin-not too many shops in Wis period, let alone convenient to me.

The event- I took my car in to have Weltmeister sway bars, aligned, and have the car corner balanced. While he was in there he fixed the wiring to the fuel pump. He also raised the car back up a bit as the first time around, he lowered it a bit too much. Total-$1700. That price was actually about $500 more than I thought he quoted me, but when I add up all that was done, I'm not dissapointed.

The problem-Upon picking up my car I found that my seat had three hloes in it!

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The pic you're looking at is the driver's left bolster. It appears as if some caustic fluid dripped on it and ate through the seat. It was very black and gummy. I have no idea what the hell could do that. When I picked it up it wa mostly intact, but blackened and cracked. Now the destroyed leather has simply flaked away. He was standing right there when I opened the door and I asked "Uhh-so what happened to my seat?" He seemed as surprised as I was. I believe he didn't know the damage had occured. He stammered out that he might have poked his finger through the old leather upon getting in or out of the vehicle, but other than that he had no idea how the damage happened. Basically he played it off as old leather that finally gave way when he had it. I left not really knowing what to say.

Here's the deal. The seats are (probably) original. While no where near new, or even show worthy, they were solid and intact, if not discolored from years of use. It's clear that something dripped on it causing this damage. I'm going in Friday to have him, for the second time, adjust the alignment so that the car doesn't pull left. I feel I should not have to pay to have him re-align the car considering I've already paid him twice to do it. I also feel he should pay for the seat repair. I know it sucks to work for free, let alone pay out of pocket for damages. I'm a business owner too. But fair is fair. It's not my fault that he damaged my car.

So-let me know what you think is a fair way to handle this. I would really appreciate it. To be honest, it would be a relief to get feedback telling me to quit whining and shut up. I would hate to have to go elsewhere to have my work done.

Old 10-11-2005, 05:20 PM
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Go in half on the repairs
Old 10-11-2005, 05:24 PM
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just say, look guy, the seat wasn't like that when i brought it in and i need you to deal with it. if he values your business and is a stand up guy, he'll get it fixed, or at least pay the bill after you get it fixed. a bolster repair is not that expensive. probably $200 max.
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Old 10-11-2005, 05:27 PM
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It would strengthen your case if you could identify any chemicals that were in use in the repair of your car that might cause that kind of damage. Just saying "I know it wasn't like that before" is a pretty weak argument.
From the standpoint of a service provider I know how much it hurts to do work for free but also know how expensive a bad reputation is.
I'd suggest firmly saying that you don't expect him to recover your seats but some consideration would go a long way toward him keeping you as a customer.
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:04 PM
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Did he do any soldering or similar work to your wiring in the passenger compartment? Those look like burns - almost look like cigarette burns.

I'm not a shop owner, but a shop manager. If you can prove that this is new damage, he owes you a new seat covers.

Autos International out in CA does excellent seat covers. Vinyl seat covers are about $300 per seat, leather is about $500-$600 per seat. IMO, on an older, non-concours, daily driver, vinyl is more than adequate. It looks good, and if it should happen to get screwed up by spills, stains, etc, you aren't out a whole lot.

Clearly, these were not new seats by any stretch of the imagination.

I'm sure some sort of comprimise can be worked out. I think going halves on the repair is fair. He can buy covers for the damaged seat, you buy the cover for the non-damaged one.

AFJ
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:12 PM
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I agree with Kevin and mostly with JW. And, I assume RUF means the seat repairs, not the alignment. But first, I'd have the car weighed somewhere that can tell you what the individual wheel weights are. If that isn't spot on, I'd be thinking about a new shop.

BTW, it takes a pretty gnarly substance to eat leather and it certainly would eat your pants. What the devil was anyone doing with such a substance anywhere near your seat? I'd check his pants that he was wearing that day.
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:16 PM
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I agree with RUF. 50 - 50 seems fair. I am a biz owner and if it were my shop I'd replace it.
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:18 PM
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what JW said - and he can get it fixed cheaper than you can

bottom line: he is responsible for putting you back in the position you were in before...
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:18 PM
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Keep in mind anything you do to that one panel will stick out like a sore thumb . I would try and come to an agreement with the shop owner on the value of the repair and have him reimburse you , then either have the seat fixed or put the money aside and buy new covers sometime down the road . The color appears to be cork ? I used to have cork leather from a used cover that might work for you if you are interested .
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:23 PM
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That looks alot like battery acid damage to me. I don't own a shop but work in one. When we damage a vehicle we fess up and pay for it. (It happens.) We don't wait for the customer to discover the damage. We tell them "Hey! We screwed up! We'll take care of it." I think a 50/50 split on the repairs of the seat is fair. They were old, as you said. Asking for new would not be reasonable of you and not fair to the shop.
On another note, paying for a service twice??? (the alignment) Any good shop would not let a car be delivered if it still had a pull unless there were other problems that the customer was made aware of. (and did not want to fix)
Sorry about your interior man. That blows!
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by AFJuvat
Did he do any soldering or similar work to your wiring in the passenger compartment? Those look like burns - almost look like cigarette burns.
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful advice and insights.

Re: burns. I called a seat restoration guy recommended by the culprit. He too, asked if any welding had been done by the car. In fact he was welding on my car. He welded on rear sway bar mounts and instead of drilling through the suspension arm for through bolting the front sway bar, he welded on the mounting tab. Beautiful welding I might add.

But why the gummy stuff? That's what throws me. It really is tar like to the extent that I got a bunch on my pants after driving the car.

As far as proving my case-I'm not into that. He knows the car wasn't like that. Either he wants to fix it or not.

Zeke-I'm told the guy really is good. As much as I would like to really know for sure, spending more money to find out doesn't sound too good right now. Basically I've spent about 4k on wheels, tires, sway bars and suspension adjustments. I'm pretty much spent.

So what about the alighnment? Should I pay again to get it right?

Jim-I'm very interested in that used Cork piece of material. I'll PM you. Thanks!
Old 10-11-2005, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by AFJuvat
Did he do any soldering or similar work to your wiring in the passenger compartment? Those look like burns - almost look like cigarette burns.
Yep, cigarette burns. That's the first thing I thought of as soon as I laid eyes on the picture. Whoever worked on your car must have had a cigarette in his hand and dropped red hot ashes on the leather without realizing it.

If I were you, I'd get an estimate from an upholstery shop on a repair. They can make it look reasonably good, and will be cheaper than recovering the seat (especially both seats). Then take the estimate to the shop and make them pay 100% of it. If you're sure the damage was caused by them, then you should not have to pay one dime. Force them to accept responsibility for what they did. Don't be a jerk, but be firm.

Accidentally pushed his finger through the old leather? And without realizing it? Right.....old leather ready to go? Uh huh......why don't you try putting your finger through it in the same spot, while he watches?
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:41 PM
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I'm taking the car in tonight to have the alignment corrected. But first, I'm going to take the car to the seat restoration guy and ask his opinion, again, of the damage. If he can narrow it down to a burn of some sort, I'll present that to the shop that did the damage. I'll ask him what he thinks the right way to proceed is. If he ponies up for it (estimate for repair = $125), we'll be fine. If not, I'll take it on the chin, but take my car elsewhere from here on in.

It's definitely not about the money. Like I said, I've dumped 4k into suspension work on this car. The seat repair cost is about what I tipped him on my first visit. I just want to be treated fairly-just as I treat my customers.

I'll post results tomorrow.
Old 10-13-2005, 07:24 AM
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If I am reading this correctly this is the third time it has been to the guy for the alignment and it still is not right ?

His shop ain't that good, the guys around here do the alignment once and the " shop manager " drives the car on the road and signs off on it before it is released to the customer, they don't even let the wrench turners drive the cars on the open road they can ride along but due to insurance issues and what not only the manager drives, the manager is an ex wrench turner years ago.

Todd
Old 10-13-2005, 07:33 AM
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Actually this will be the third visit. He tried twice before. The first time the car was in to have the new wheels and tires installed, lowered, and aligned. Apparently he lowered it a bit too much making alignment difficult, if not impossible. I know nothing of this stuff, so I can only take his word for it. Fyi-my instructions were to lower it "as much is reasonable" without it becoming a mechanical/damage problem. Upon getting it back, it pulled aggressively to the left-like fast lane change aggressive. He said he was "chasing his tail" when trying to align the car and thought it maybe need new torsion bars or corner balancing to correct the issue. Seeing as I wanted it corner balanced anyway, and it needed the rear sway bar mounts re-welded, I opted to bring it in for the cb and add some weltmeister bars fore and aft. Unfortunately, he raised the car up a bit. Not bad, but no where near as cool as before. He added the sway bars and re-aligned. That's when I saw the seat damage occured. Here's a before pick, which is unfortunately worthless as far as proving my case as the damage could have happened anytime and the affected area isn't even pictured. However, it serves as reference for the condition of the interior which is good-not excellent, but NO HOLES.

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Anyway, for the second visit, I was willing to entertain the concept that the car needed more work to get proper alignment. This will be my third, and final visit for alignment. I hope he gets it right.

He's a nice guy with a good rep. I hope that this can be resolved as I would like to keep taking my car to him.
Old 10-13-2005, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sebring77
The seat repair cost is about what I tipped him on my first visit.
You being facetious, or do you all really tip your wrench? I dropped 5K into mine this summer, and after a week driving it to know that I was really satisfied about getting my 5K worth, I dropped off a 12-pack of Becks. At $105/hr for labor, I figured he made out pretty good too.

Am I cheap?

Back on-topic, I vote for battery terminal goo that certainly would have contained acid. When you get that stuff on your clothes, the hole doesn't show up right away, which sounds like what I read in your post. Doesn't have to have been from your car either, I assume he could have picked it up from another vehicle or surface anywhere in the shop.

IMHO, I think he should pick up the $125 repair cost, and you should not be paying for the 3rd alignment if it is just to tweak.
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Old 10-13-2005, 08:50 AM
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Tipping a wrench? Unless the wrench is the evil one I figure the only tip required or appropriate is return business. Maybe a plug to friends, pass along a few business cards, etc.


I'm with Doug, maybe we're both cheap. Of course the only people (other than myself) who have touched my 911 since I bought it are the alignment guy and the smog nazi. Things I couldn't do myself.
Old 10-13-2005, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by sammyg2
Tipping a wrench?
Normally I wouldn't. However, he spent a lot of time on the car and the bill was way less than I thought it would be-by about $500. I figured I'de slip him $50 for the effort. So, I was exaggerating a bit, but in the overall scheme of things, $50, $100, $150, it's all about the same when were talking thousands on just the suspension tweaks. God help me when it's 3.6 time .

Of course, this tip was given before I knew it pulled like a mofo to the left.
Old 10-13-2005, 12:04 PM
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Tipping a wrench?

- next my doctor will be putting out a tip jar...
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Old 10-13-2005, 12:35 PM
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Tipping

If a wrench is doing side work on his own time then I might tip him, but not if it's full shop rate.

I think this guy should fix the car and seat at no cost plus apologize for all the grief.

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Old 10-13-2005, 01:06 PM
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