AAMCO San Marcos scammed me the same way AAMCO trains their franchises to scam people all over the country. I have read this complaint all over the internet since it happened to me.
Took my car in to have a diagnostic run. They told me I needed to have the transmission rebuilt. I agreed, verbally, for them to begin work. After I got home (one hour after leaving their office) I read some really bad reviews of them online (that they had told others they needed to have their transmissions rebuilt only to up the price in excess of $2500). I called them to have them stop the repair. There was no answer and no voice mail. So I drove all the way back to San Marcos and put a note on the door (they had closed) saying not to start on my car and that I would not be doing the repair with them. I looked in the garage and my car was in the same place and in the same condition I had left it in.
Called first thing Monday morning and was told that they got my note but that I would have to pay $700 to get my car back because I had entered into an "agreement" with them that I would be paying all labor costs even if no work was done. I had signed nothing, but they asked for the last 4 digits of my SSN, which I stupidly gave them. They, AAMCO, train their franchise people to do this, you can find consumer complaints of this all over. They either ask for a birthdate or the last 4 digits of an SSN and then claim that this amounts to the customer entering into a "contract" with them.
When I argued, the manager I spoke to told me three different stories. 1) the car wasn't worked on, but they had removed some bolts that lock down the transmission (it hadn't even been removed) and the $700 was to put those bolts back on 2) they had taken out the transmission (which proved to be a lie) and 3) AAMCO charges a reassembly fee on each vehicle they work on for which the customer refuses a repair. Again, look on the internet. There are hundreds of complaints from AAMCO customers that say the same thing.
My sister and I drove over and they said that they would not show us the car and what work had and hadn't been done and they would not give us an itemized list of what had or hadn't been done. They also said their computer system was down and they couldn't look anything up. The manager wanted me to go pull $700 (later it became $600, maybe he was taking $100 off the top for himself) in cash and give it to him to get my keys back.
After we sat there for almost two hours, the manager let the mechanic pull our car down to eye level on the hydraulic lift. There was no evidence anything had been done to the car except the transmission pan was removed, something that was done during the "free" diagnostic. Again, this is a ploy AAMCO franchises use to lock people in to repairs. I protested and took pictures of this with my camera phone. I asked the mechanic who the manager said had worked on my car and he looked at his manager and said, "Don't get me involved in this."
Well, all of a sudden, the manager says we can have our car for $312. We refused to pay the $312, and we said we were going to call the police. The manager tries to put on a intimidating show and says that he's going to call the police. So my sister and I just sat there waiting for the police to arrive.
From what I can tell, he called the owner of the shop and told him what was going on. He got off the phone and said we'd have to pay the $312. But no police came, until we called them later.
We finally agreed to pay them in order to get the car back. Being New Years Eve, they would be closed the following day and we would not get the car back until then. The manager told us to go get cash and they would put the car "back together" and call us when it was done. After he called, we went over with cash in hand to pay the ransom for our car. I put the money on his desk and he looked up at me with his yokel grin and said, "You didn't give me exact change." And he laughed. So my sister and I had to go get exact change (he couldn't break a twenty) and come back and present it to him. Then he says I have to sign authorization forms (like you do at professional auto repair shops before they do a repair) saying that I agreed to the hourly rate they fudged to make the total $312. I signed but wrote on the form "did not agree to amount." He refused to give me my keys.
We walked out of the office and went home to call the police.
The police referred us to the Constable's Office who referred us to the County Judge. I also called the owner directly to ask for my car back and he began screaming hysterically at me that he was going to call over to the shop and have them remove my transmission and complete all the repairs and charge me the total amount estimated for the repair if I did not pay the $312 today and pick up the car. I tried to explain to him that we had gone by to do just that but he was completely out of control.
In the end, we went back to get the car. We called the San Marcos police on the way over and asked that an officer be sent to meet us at AAMCO. The police office was extremely helpful. We did pay the $312 but we actually feel lucky after reading the many reports of how AAMCO routinely screws customers out of these $600 reassembly fees. And even more, as it appears once they get your car up on the hydraulic lift the price of the repair magically gets higher and higher.