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Are you getting the mechanic runaround?

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What happens if you dropped your car off at the shop and you can't get your mechanic to finish the job? Or your truck is ready, but not at the price you originally agreed to pay? Is there anything you can do?

The I-Team asked Consumer Ed about what your legal rights are after hearing a complaint: a person says he dropped off his car, and got an estimate of $400. Six weeks later, it was finally ready, but for $880.  

What does the law say? If the mechanic has worked on the car and you refuse to pay the bill, he can keep the car until you pay up.

If you think you are getting the "mechanic runaround," the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection says do three things before you leave the shop: put in writing that you are paying under protest. Have the shop put in writing why the work was either done without your authorization or why it went so far above the original estimate.  Also, leave the shop with your old parts in hand.

John Sours, the head of consumer protection and who runs the Ask Consumer Ed newsletter says you need to do a lot of work before your car is worked on.

"You need to investigate the mechanic you're dealing with. Many have experience ratings with the BBB. You can get that quickly cheaply. Do it. Ask for references, friend or neighbor. How'd it go? How close to the original estimate," said Sours.

It's not foolproof but it's a start. Before you leave your car with a mechanic, get an estimate in writing.  Also, get in writing an agreement the shop will call you before they begin repairs or if the repairs go beyond that estimate.

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