By Melanie Abrahams, REDBOOK
No offense, repair guys, but we don't always trust your fuzzy math. So we asked three Ms. Fix-Its how a sister can avoid getting suckered.
THE #1 CAR-REPAIR RIP-OFF: engine work. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says that auto shops - one of the 10 most complained-about industries last year - routinely charge customers for replacing engine parts they never even touched! BEAT THE SWINDLE: Tell your mechanic that you want to see any parts they remove and replace. "That way, they have to come clean about exactly what they did under your hood," says Bogi Lateiner, owner of 180 Degrees Automotive in Phoenix. And visit repairpal.com, where you can find the reasonable price range for many common fixes at shops in your city.
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THE #1 PLUMBING RIP-OFF: leaky pipes or faucets. Many plumbers will stick you with a higher bill claiming that the original estimate was for "labor only" and didn't include travel and parts. BEAT THE SWINDLE: Ask for all costs in writing up front. Also, buy any new parts yourself. "Some plumbers will charge you $100 just for a trip to Home Depot," says Mitzi Smith Moore, president of Sundial Plumbing in Atlanta.
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THE #1 ELECTRICIAN RIP-OFF: rewiring when you've got a short. "We've heard many customers complain that electricians replace only a few faulty wires properly, and the problem returns days later," says Angie Hicks, founder of the review service Angie's List. "Then they charge you to fix it again." BEAT THE SWINDLE: "Always ask for a warranty on the work," says Anna Procaccini, president of Anna's Electric in Dallas. The BBB says any reputable electrician should offer at least a 30-day guarantee.
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Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.