Has the Dealer Committed a Rip-off Stunt?

Dear fellow listers:
My father-in-law has a 98 C230, with 28,000 miles on it. The check engine light came on and he brought it into the dealership to
investigate.
$815.31 later, he got his car back.
This is what they did:
Check Engine Light - Tech (42 minutes) $218.70 Replaced mass air flow sensor
Parts Air Mass Sensor $549.05
MAO MB Environmental $5.00
Tax $42.56
Total $815.31
1) Is it likely that the air sensor was bad, especially with a very low mileage car of 28,000 miles? 2) Even if that were the case (unlikely, in my experience with Volvo and others I know with a Mercedes), isnt there a much less expensive alternative? Example: I replaced the sensor in my Volvo with a universal version for $42.00 vs $250.00 for the Volvo dealers version. (works fine, by the way). 3) Why didnt they tell him what they thought this would cost, instead of presenting him a bill, ala fait accompli?
I need some ammunition to discuss this with the dealer, as I regard this as abuse. Anyone have any ideas?
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<< Anyone have any ideas?>>
Next time, tell your mechanic to call you before doing any repairs in excess of $50.
I'm not trying to be snide here, but I think this time you are stuck. Hopefully it won't happen again.
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Has the Dealer Committed a Rip-off Stunt? Group: alt.auto.mercedes Date: Mon, Nov 3, 2003, 6:05pm (EST-1) From: snipped-for-privacy@ais.net (DanBehr) Dear fellow listers: My father-in-law has a '98 C230, with 28,000 miles on it. The "check engine" light came on and he brought it into the dealership to investigate. $815.31 later, he got his car back. This is what they did: Check Engine Light - Tech (42 minutes) $218.70 Replaced mass air flow sensor Parts Air Mass Sensor $549.05 MAO MB Environmental $5.00 Tax $42.56 Total $815.31 1) Is it likely that the air sensor was bad, especially with a very low mileage car of 28,000 miles? 2) Even if that were the case (unlikely, in my experience with Volvo and others I know with a Mercedes), isn't there a much less expensive alternative? Example: I replaced the sensor in my Volvo with a universal version for $42.00 vs $250.00 for the Volvo dealer's version. (works fine, by the way). 3) Why didn't they tell him what they thought this would cost, instead of presenting him a bill, ala fait accompli? I need some ammunition to discuss this with the dealer, as I regard this as abuse. Anyone have any ideas? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
i pulled this once and it worked. if the car will not pass federal emmissions and state test for the first 50,000 miles <don't know the cut off for the year> it must be fixed for free! now i did this a few years ago with an olds but its worth asking some one although i would not ask the dealer
my problem ended up been the gas cap but it took them hours of labor and a few computers. cap was free!
case
the case, minus a few cans!
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Dan Behr wrote:

If he did not authorise the work [which may also be in doubt] and expenditure [which is sure to be so], they have committed an all-too-common fraud. Firm action.
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Most states make the dealer ask you for authorization for any work above $50.

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Unless there are extenuating circumstances, like external factors or abuse, Air Mass Meter should be covered under the Emissions Warranty.

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He told the dealer to fix it. That's their BLANK CHECK to charge what THEY want!
Their rational is that "the book" lists an "allowed" flat rate labor time of X hours for this job and who among us can argue with "the book" that shops buy from some self serving publisher, talk about consumer rip offs, this is the king.
Remember, the "service advisor" is on commission and works in the car business.
ALWAYS ask for an estimate BEFORE approving any work, otherwise this is always the result.
How do I know? Don't ask.
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Dan, I have a 1997 E320 and the 'check engine' light came on at around 50,000 miles. At the same time the car began to bog down slightly when I excelerated hard. This bogging down began to get worse. I took the car to a local mechanic who suggested the cause was the Air Mass Meter and also suggested I could change it myself (I've given him work in the past on a 911 I owned and on a tune-up on the E320 so he was helpful). I checked with the dealer and the part was around $350. I checked with a local MBZ parts distributor and bought the genuine MBZ part for $171. It took me 5 minutes to unsnap the part (located between the air intake and the air filter housing) and snap the new one in. It immediately cured the problem; no more 'check engine' light and the car excellerated like a rocket.
Dan Behr wrote:

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The labor on your job was completely a rip off. Unfortunately they probably rip off everyone equally so you whining wont mean a thing. The lesson here is, dont go to the dealer, they rob you blind and they do it so often they actually think its ok. KH

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There are definitely dealers around that will rip you off. My girlfriend had a Pontiac Gran Prix where the ABS light would come on intermittently and the pedal would pulse when applying the brakes normally. She also was complaining that the power steering squeeled, however I only heard some of the normal noise if you turned it near the stop point in either direction.
She took it to a Pontiac dealer and they wanted $1100. They told her the ABS computer needed to be replaced and the power steering was leaking. Having not seen a single drop of fluid on the garage floor, I was suspicious.
She took it to another dealer who diagnosed a bad wheel sensor and repaired it for $225. Now, you know this was not a case of making the wrong diagnosis, because both the ABS computer and the engine computer read out extensive data on what signals are missing, etc. It's down to the level of "open sensor input from left front wheel, or occasional misfire on cylinder 3" It's impossible that the computer would say it failed it's own diagnostic when the problem was simply a wheel sensor.
The rest of this fraud would probably have been that they would not have even replaced the computer, while charging for it.
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