Can an auto shop change their quoted price after a car has been towed to their facility before even looking at the car?
Question Details: I have a car that needs some work. I called a shop and provided a detailed description of the history and problem. I was given a quote of 1 hour diagnosis time. Not repair, just the time to figure out what is wrong. Based on that price, I paid to have the car towed to the shop. Once there, I was told that now, based on the type of car which they knew from the call it would be 1.5 hours of time. The next day, without ever even looking at the car, they called and said that based on the history, it would now be 5 hours of time to diagnose. The history given over the phone was the same as that repeated when the car was dropped off. I would never have paid to have the car towed to this shop if I had known the price of the 5 hour diagnosis. I feel as if they gave me a low number just to get me to pay to have the car towed there. Once at the shop, they assume I will just pay the higher price. Still, the information has not changed and they have yet to even look at the car. Do I have a case to take them to small claims court to recover the cost of the tow to their facility, the inevitable tow home, and my time from work I had to take to arrange all of this?
Yes, based on what you write, you could potentially sue them on one or both of the following bases:
1) Breach of contract: even if it was only an oral (unwritten) agrerement, there was an agreement between that two of you as to the price to diagnose.
2) Fraud: lying about the cost to get you to bring your car to them.
If you do elect to sue, file the small claims case on both reasons or bases, to increase the likelihood of success.