If you believe you've been ripped off, first try to resolve the problem with the service manager. If you were charged for something you didn't request, authorize or understand, try to get an explanation. Perhaps it was just a misunderstanding.
If you can't reach a satisfactory agreement, then try the following:
* Move up the ladder to the next level of management. If you're problem is with a new car dealer, then contact the auto manufacturer's regional office or their customer satisfaction department. If your problem is with a chain store of some type, contact the regional or national office. If you're dealing with an independently owned business, speak directly to the owner.
* If the problem or disagreement can't be resolved (or you believe you've been cheated), register a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau. The BBB has no enforcement authority, but they can sometimes bring pressure to bear on a member that may lead to a resolution.
* Contact your city or state consumer affair office. They will often take a very aggressive approach on your behalf to settling the problem, especially if they've had other complaints on the same business.
* If repair facilities must be licensed in your area, contact the agency that regulates auto repair businesses. (In California, this would the the Bureau of Auto Repair.)
* If you suspect outright fraud, contact your state attorney generals office (or the applicable government agency that polices auto repair fraud cases). They may consider running an undercover sting operation against the facility if they have reason to believe you're not the only one who has been cheated.
* If you're a real crusader, you might even contact a local television news station and encourage someone to "look into" the matter. A news crew at the front door is sweet revenge.
* Certainly tell all your friends and anyone who will listen what a bad experience you had with this particular service facility. It won't do you any good but it may help others steer clear of trouble.
* Consider legal alternatives. You can always refuse to pay and fight it out in court. But legal action is always expensive and time-consuming whether you win or lose.