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Friday, December 6, 2013

If You Want to Spend Lots of Money, Take Your Car to Das Autohaus!

1045 New Jersey Street
Lawrence, KS 66044

Phone: 785-843-9494

As is usually the case, I should have listened to my gut instinct before trusting Dave, the owner of Das Autohaus and the Scuba Shack, co-located businesses literally around the corner from our home in Lawrence, Kansas.  When I stopped by to inquire about snorkeling gear for an upcoming trip to the Caribbean and discuss hiring him as our new mechanic (having recently moved to the area), the price for a mask, snorkel, and fins that go for less than $50 (with free shipping) on Amazon.com were quoted at $99 ... HINT #1 that things to come from Dave would not be cheap!

Being unemployed, we do not have a lot of money and our previous mechanic in Kansas City was always honest, fair, and did excellent work. I knew I could trust him and he never took advantage of us, unlike many mechanics, including, in my opinion, Dave and Das Autohaus.

I took our 2000 Volkswagen Beetle to Dave for a simple check of the battery (which was losing its charge on very cold mornings) this morning, expecting a fair and reasonable estimate.  He told me that it would take about an hour to run some diagnostics. I asked him how much an oil change would be while I was there and he told me, "$60".  I told him that my last mechanic only charged me $25 (including oil, filter, checking fluids, and inflating tires) and that I thought his price was too high (HINT #2 of a rip-off ... I should have walked away right then, but I believe in supporting local small businesses), so I told him not to change the oil.

Three hours later, Dave finally called and told me that the problem was in-fact the battery, which I assumed was the case, and considering the fact that batteries for my vehicle run around $100 (including FREE testing and installation) at any reputable auto parts store, I figured it should run me $160 more or less ($100 for the battery and an plus or minus an hour, to be generous, for labor - diagnostics and installation). I asked him how much it was going to cost and he said, "that comes to a little over $280".  

I thought maybe I had misheard the price, so I asked him, "did you say $280?". He confirmed the ridiculous price and I said, "I can buy a battery for $100 with free installation at an auto parts store, so why do you want to charge me $280? How much is the battery?".  He replied, "$140", to which I responded, "so you want to charge me $140 in labor to replace a battery I can get installed for free anywhere else?" He told me, "that's what it costs.  Do you know how long it takes to install a battery?"  I told him that I do in-fact know how long it takes because I installed the VW battery 4 years ago myself, taking only about 15 minutes. His "I could care less" and aggressive tone of voice ticked me off, so I told him I would be right over to collect my car. 

When I arrived, he insulted me further by saying that the car had not been well maintained and, in an attempt to up-sell someone who was not going to fall for his BS in any event, that I needed to replace the timing belt.  I told him that the timing belt had been replaced less than 70,000 miles ago and that the VW had been well maintained, changing the oil every 5,000 miles even though recommendations are to change diesel oil every 10,000 miles and making all RECOMMENDED and NECESSARY repairs (from our honest mechanic).

He then handed me a bill for $75:

As you can see from the invoice, he not only overcharged me for the labor involved with the estimate, HE CHARGED ME $9.99 FOR SUPPLIES?  What supplies could he have possibly used to test my charging system?

Having spent my Air Force career as a transportation officer and responsible for hundreds of auto mechanics (and the Best Transportation Squadron in the United States Air Force), I know how repair costs are calculated, so I asked Dave how much his hourly rate was. He said, "I work by the job, not by the hour", so I knew he was not on the up-and-up. In comparison, here is a quote from AutoMD.com for the exact repair on my vehicle and as you can see, it is MUCH closer to my estimate than his:

Quote Number # 636221

2000 Volkswagen Beetle GLS 4 Cyl 1.9L
    Parts Selected

    Battery Replacement
    PartsCARQUEST Battery (New)2 yr / 24k mi1$136.05$136.05
    Labor2 yr / 24k mi0.60 hrs$80.00$48.00
    Other Fees
    Shop Supplies$1.84$1.84
    Quote Summary
    Labor0.6 hrs$48.00$48.00
    Other Fees1$1.84$1.84

    He was trying to charge me over $140 in labor for a job that takes 6/10 of an hour, ATTEMPTING to charge me over $250 an hour for labor when the average is $65 to $70 an hour elsewhere ... CAN YOU SAY "RIP-OFF" ... SURE YOU CAN!

    I took my car to Walmart (invoice below) a few days later. They tested my charging system FOR FREE, CHARGED ME ONLY $109.97 FOR THE BATTERY, and INSTALLED IT IN ABOUT 20 MINUTES FOR FREE ... for a total of only $124 and change! Adding in the $75 Dave charged me for doing practically nothing and the grand total came to $200, SO I STILL PAID $80 LESS THAN DAVE WAS GOING TO CHARGE ME even though I should have paid over $150 less if I had been dealing with an honest person.

    Mechanics are notorious for taking advantage of uneducated customers as we have all seen on shows like 20/20 and 60 Minutes, but there are good, honest people out there as our last mechanic proved over the last five years. I assumed, and you know what happens when you "ASSUME" ... YOU MAKE AN "ASS" OF "U" AND "ME", that Dave would be fair and honest, knowing very well that this was the first time I had been there and possibly trying to "do the right thing" by a new customer. In my opinion, Dave obviously has no idea what the "right thing" is or what "integrity" entails, so if you have more money than you know what to do with and do not care how much a service costs, by all means go to Das Autohaus! I did not realize how good I had it with our last mechanic, but maybe it is worth the 40 minute drive not to find out how many crook mechanics there are in Lawrence, Kansas!

    CombatCritic Gives Das Autohaus 1 Out of 10 Bombs ... Bombs Are Good!

    Since this debacle, several people (friends and strangers alike) have come forward with stories of their own about Dave and Das Autohaus. It seems as though he has an unsavory reputation in Lawrence, a reputation I wish I had been aware of prior to trusting him with my car. So I am sharing my story and opinion with you in the hope that I can spare some of my neighbors from a similar experience. Take heed and pass the word along so that others will not be victimized by this unscrupulous business owner.

    UPDATE: 1/27/2014

    As usual, AngiesList did not bother letting me know that the owner of Das Autohaus responded to my review, having just read it:

    Company Response: 

    "This is a false review, we have never worked on a car by a person with the name of [member name removed]. Dave Bach is the only Volkswagen Master Registered Technician in Lawrence. Like any professional, he charges for his work. As a Platinum Pro Diver and Instructor, Dave chooses to sell only quality equipment in his shop."

    My response, which AngiesList does not bother to ask for, another sign that they cater to businesses, not consumers, is as follows:

    This man obviously has no scruples and will lie at every turn. If you want to see the receipt from Das Autohaus for the "estimate", you can find it at this link: above along with the full review and other documentation proving that what I say is in-fact true and Das Autohaus is lying ... THIS IS NOT A FALSE REVIEW!

    I updated the AngiesList review on Das Autohaus with the above information on January 27th, 2014, but whether or not Angie'sList publishes the updated review is a completely different story (as you can read in "AngiesList or AngiesBust ... You Decide!" elsewhere in this blog).

    Key Words: das, autohaus, mechanic, car, auto, automobile, Volkswagen, VW, battery, repair, cost, con, pro, rude, Lawrence, Kansas, InstitutionalTerrorism, institutional, terrorism

    This review is based solely on my opinion and what I believe to be true based on my direct experience with the service(s) in question. Readers should take these facts into consideration when deciding to utilize a service (or not) and that my opinion may or may not reflect the true nature and/or character of the individuals and/or institutions being reviewed.

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Redbox Instant by Verizon Delivers Instant Nothing!

    Redbox Instant by Verizon Delivers Instant Nothing!

    I ordered Redbox Instant with live streaming video and 4 credits per month for $8 on November 10, 2013.  Since then, the streaming option rarely works on our PS3 even though Netflix works just fine EVERY TIME!  Then there are the 4 "FREE" CREDITS per month, of which I have only been able to use one.  The last two kiosk reservations I made charged my credit card instead of automatically using credits (as their "HELP" FAQs imply is the case) and it is impossible to apply credits to a kiosk reservation either on the website or the iPhone mobile app. 

    The Redbox applications and customer support options are useless as far as credits are concerned and I wasted a great deal of time online and on the phone trying to connect with Redbox Customer Service.  The website and app are obviously not ready for implementation and they must have one customer service rep for the US because every time I call or try to chat online, there is a long wait.

    I should have known better than to sign-up for a service that has anything to do with Verizon (see my article Your Verizon Data Is Vulnerable for more information on how Verizon allowed my identity to be stolen and refused to do anything about it), so I canceled my subscription.  I do not have either the time or the patience to deal with a vendor that obviously could care less about customers and Redbox's affiliation with Verizon tells be a lot about their values or lack thereof.

    CombatCritic Gives Redbox 2 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!

    Key Words: Redbox, Verizon, video, streaming, Blu, Ray, disc, kiosk, rental, movie, TV, internet, film, help, problem, customer, CombatCritic, InstitutionalTerrorism