Monday, March 10, 2014

To Neal's Garage

I've never gone online with a customer service complaint.  But after my interaction with Neal's Garage, I felt they had really "done me wrong" and were unsympathetic when I told them I was not happy with the service on my vehicle.

In November I had our Mercedes Van towed to Neal's Garage as they had previously worked on it, and I had not had any negative experiences prior - in fact, they routinely gave us free oil changes in return for our patronage.  

To: Neal's Garage

Re: Mercedes Van in your shop

I wasn't really mad when you kept putting off the date my van would be ready.

And I wasn't mad when I would call every week and you would say that you were trying to get to it and to just give you a couple more days.

And I wasn't peeved when you said the holidays got in the way of the repair.

And I wasn't upset when you told me a starter replacement would cost $500 plus labor.

And I wasn't exasperated when you told me the starter was fixed but there was a problem with the electrical box.

And I wasn't enraged when it took nearly three weeks to get an electrician to look at it.

But I started to get a little worried when an independent mechanic was able to turn over the engine by switching battery cables that were in the wrong place.

And I started to get a little infuriated when you appeared then to have not an idea what the issue was two months after the van arrived in your garage.

And I felt betrayed when you told me the independent mechanic had not been authorized to look at the van (I had given him my authorization) - how else could he have received the keys from y'all?

And I started to act resentful when I realized that my best option at this point would be to sell the van and its resale value had probably now been sliced in half.

And I started to get pissed when I met the mechanic who had worked on the van and he wrung his hands, stared at his shoes, and could not answer my question as to what the existing issue with the van was.

And I was legitimately surprised when you told me I couldn't speak with the owner of Neal's Garage because he was out of town for "several weeks".

And I felt lied to when it turned out that the owner (Chris Snipes) actually was in town and could call me.

And I was sad when Chris was condescending and rude to me over the phone and refused to budge from the full repair cost, which at that point had run to over $1,600 (including a $320 battery replacement when the batteries had been perfectly fine and recently replaced when the vehicle arrive at the garage) and still had not fixed or identified the issue.

And I was upset when Chris refused to allow an independent mechanic to test the supposedly bad starter that was pinpointed but never proven as the original issue.

And I was lastly fit to blog about the experience when Chris told me that my credit card was not good at his place of business, and that I would need to either bring cash or bank check to tow my van out from his lot "by Friday, or I am putting it in storage".


Postscript: After towing, the independent mechanic then diagnosed the vehicle, purged the fuel line (there was air in it), and got the bus working in short order.


  1. Good! Glad in the end it turned out okay but sorry that you had to deal with the bullshit! Wonder what changed from the previous experiences. You should file a claim with the BBB not that it does much.

  2. Should have gone to in Chapel Hill. They do awesome work on Mercedes vehicles.

  3. I was a regular there without much complaint until I took my car in to solve a check engine light issue. Three "repairs" and over a grand later, I said goodbye to those sketchballs. Glad to know the bus is back on the road, and ditto the BBB suggestion.

  4. As an addendum, the bus has been sold to Marc Dreyfors and Greenway Transit of Durham. You can check out their good works here:

  5. Neal's garage kept misdiagnosing my brake problem and I had to keep taking it back because my car wasn't driving/braking right... $1400 dollars and a completely new braking system later, it was fixed. They saw me as nothing more than a cash cow.... never again.