Fraudlent charges and shoddy work from auto shops are almost de regiuer, but outright vandalism? That’s what Hector experienced from SGT Clutch Discount Transmission & Automotive in San Antonio, TX after getting his non-working Saturn towed for repairs.
See, the retired Army First Sergeant had the unmitigated gall to question a $150 markup on parts over what Saturn would have charged for the repair. That’s when things got really nasty. The desk clerk refused to take Hector’s credit card for payment because, “You are a dissatisfied customer and I can.”
Hector complied and withdrew money from the ATM. He proceeded to retrieve his car where he found
• Filthy seats
• Oil splashed on the side up to the windows
• Missing stereo face plate
• but worst of all, ” dirty footprint tread mark where the body was kicked in to the point it cracked and broke off a piece of the fiberglass body.”
When Hector called to complain, the desk clerk was silent and hung up.
Hector promptly filed a police report and is ready to sue for damages and repairs. His complete story, and more pictures, inside…
But first, a word of caution: If you want quality service, avoid anything with “Discount” in the name.
This is the email Hector sent Sgt. Clutch, with no response so far.
- “This whole process started Wednesday, Sept. 6th. After night-school at SAC (San Antonio College) my 1999 Saturn (standard) could not shift into the gears and was stuck in Reverse. I lived out by Sea World; so I decided to call a local repair shop not far from SAC. That was mistake number 1 , I called SGT Clutch Discount Transmission & Automotive at 823 S.E. Military Drive. (210)924-0047.
My car was towed the next morning at 0900 from SAC to SGT Clutch Trans. I called around lunch to see if they received my car. They said it just arrived an hour ago – wow; that must have been a long and slow drive! The Clutch place said they hadn’t looked at it yet. I proceeded to call later. This went back and forth; me calling and trying to find out what the car needed and how long it would take. At one point I was told the car needed over $600 repair. Apparently , that would be for “shifter cable”; 4 HOURS OF LABOR; and some adjustment/tightening in the gear box. I told them I would call them back. I thought 4 hours of labor was excessive; as well as the price. So I began calling around for prices. Within minutes of having this conversation with SGT Clutch; I was called back and informed that they could reduce the labor charges to 2.5 hours . I still thought $ 522.00 was exorbitant for the service being performed and said okay , and he asked me for my driver’s license number so he could go ahead and order the part and start working on the car. I then called the SATURN parts store to get a dollar figure for the part – (retail mind you, not wholesale). I was quoted a price $150 less than what SGT Clutch was charging. By Friday; lunch-time we are not much further and still without the car so I called the shop at about 4:45pm and they told me that they could have the car ready by 5:30pm and that they were still doing a road test. I told them there was no way that I could pick up the car by 5:30 so I would go by in the morning.
So, I decided I would take this information back with me to the repair shop personally and ask why they charge so much more than the dealer. It was Saturday around 1030 am when I went to SGT Clutch. The young man at the desk; (who claimed to be the manager later on) asked if I was going to pay cash or credit card. I told him I needed to see the invoice first. When I observed the $351.07 price for the Shifter Cable; I asked him why. He told me “well, we have to make money too”. “If you wanted a cheaper price for the part you could have picked it (the shifter cable) up yourself and brought it to me; but then I couldn’t guarantee the part”. I told him that I wasn’t aware that I had that option. So I proceeded to pull out my wallet to pay; because at that point he stood by the charges and wasn’t budging. While attempting to pay; my wife (to the side) commented “you know, I can understand you wanting to make money: $50-$60 would have been reasonable. But, $150 markup is price gouging and exuberant to say the least!” At this point; the young man at the desk changed his attitude abruptly. He looked at me and at my credit card and said; “It’s cash or certified check! No credit card”! I was shocked; since he advertised all over the front door; on the website and on his coupons All the Major credit cards. I asked him why. He said: “Because you are a dissatisfied customer and I can; it says so on the disclaimer on the wall; see for yourself (pointing to the waiting area)”! My wife also questioned it; that there was no reason to not accept it; and that was fraudulent advertising. Especially coming from a business that utilizes BBB business practices. He repeated with “Hey; you are a dissatisfied customer , therefore, it’s cash or certified check” . He said if I didn’t like it I could call the Cust. Svc. Number on the plaque. I did so; but with no results and no answers.”
- “At this point the young man; claimed to be the manager when I asked to see the manager. He was giving me the attitude; that he’s doing this because he can and I realized if I was to get my car back I had no choice but to pay. I told him in that case I have a coupon for a 15% discount so I need the right amount (he wrote $444.43 after the discount in the back of his business card) so I can go to an ATM and return with the cash. I wasn’t down the road one minute; when he called me on my cell phone and said “I forgot to add in the towing charge; therefore you now owe more ($504.00). I again, questioned the charge since the coupons and advertising say towing would be included in the transmission repairs. He told me it wasn’t considered a “major” repair and not a “transmission repair”.
I proceeded to get $500 out of the ATM: that’s all I could take out in one day. SGT Clutch wouldn’t take Checks or Credit cards and that was all I had. I presented this to him when I returned from the ATM; he agreed to $500 instead of $ 504.00. During this time the Car was still in the garage/shop area. They pulled it out; the car was filthy on my light grey seats. The car looked as if they splashed oil on the side body up to the windows. But. I didn’t want to stick around any more. As it was I had to ask for my faceplate to my stereo that was missing. The bill was never explained; the old shifter cable was never showed to me or even offered. I just figured I would fight this later and get out of there before they charged me more for something else.
On the way home; my wife followed me home in our other vehicle. This was when she brought to my attention the damaged area on the passenger side. There was a dirty footprint tread mark where the body was kicked in to the point it cracked and broke off a piece of the fiberglass body. It was obviously vandalized and I took photos. I called the young man back right after I had discovered the damage. I told him that someone put a shoe into the side of my car and asked what he had to say about it: he went silent and said nothing. At that point; I just hung up. All because we wanted the break down of our bill and questioned the charges. Which he could not respond to with other than “because I can” and “you are a dissatisfied customer” like it was rehearsed many times before.”
- “I want the body work on my car repaired and the interior and exterior cleaned. I want the price adjusted to reflect the free towing and a correct charge for the part. I don’t find this at all unreasonable. I went through this mess from Wednesday night to Saturday afternoon without my car. I had to tolerate unprofessional behavior and above all: Vandalism as a repercussion to my rights to question the charges. Is this how this company treats its disabled vets. senior citizens and students they claim to serve so well?
While I was there my wife discovered other customers in the waiting room that also experienced this “dissatisfied Customer” routine. One was an elderly man that was denied his credit card for the same reason! I know he didn’t have the cash either! This young man needs to be fired and reprimanded. Unfortunately, the business card reflects the name Robert Torralva as the manager. But; I don’t know whether or not to believe that this was the individual with whom we dealt. There may be other lies there too. So I don’t know the actual owner of the shop and who to sue for the damages; if it requires me to do so.”