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Old 12-02-2014, 03:16 PM   #1
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Basalt , Colorado
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Seeking Advice on Airstream Repairs

In July of 2014 I took my 1965 Airstream in for repairs at Denver shop. They looked at the trailer and told me repairs would be 6-7 thousand dollars and it would take about 6 weeks. After about six weeks, I called to ask how it was going and was told they had some personnel problems and that they had to back-order some parts. They told me it would take another month. Four months passed with various phone calls between us, and promises of completion dates. Finally last week they called and said it was done and that the bill was 14 thousand dollars. I had a fairly unpleasant discussion with one of the managers on the charges and told them I could understand a 10-20% increase over original estimates but a doubling was unreasonable.

I asked to see an itemized list of parts and labors and they sent me the list. So my questions to forum members: 1) Recommendations on how to determine if the various charges are legitimate (I would pay an airstream expert to go over the list); 2)What is a reasonable settlement given the four months taken to repair the trailer and the over-budget invoice. I was thinking of meeting them half-way between the 7 and 14 K, if all the repair items are legitimate.

Appreciate your thoughts.

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Old 12-02-2014, 03:21 PM   #2
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I do not believe it would be possible to answer your questions without knowing what you took it in for and what work was actually done. Airstream dealer labor rates run about $115 an hour.


Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 12-02-2014, 03:53 PM   #3
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This is one of those gray areas that any shop likes to get customers into.

You obviously received a "verbal" quote with quite possibly a disclaimer that the quote is based on a best case senario with everything going just right. Shops will allways low ball you with a verbal quote, if pressed for a written quote, the price will allways increase as the shop will have take into account possible unforseen complications.

The shop ran into personal problems and has obviously lost revenue due to lower output. Unfortunately the shop still has a fixed overhead and has charged you more to make up for lower production.

Unless you have a written quote, you're out of luck if the shop sticks to its guns and wants its $14,000.00.

That being said try to work a settlement with the shop and worse case prepared to walk away from the trailer. The shop won't want its reputation tarnished and your trailer to sell, so it may decide to settle.

You know now what to do next time.
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Old 12-02-2014, 03:56 PM   #4
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Thanks for your thoughts, Tony!
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Old 12-02-2014, 04:03 PM   #5
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Thanks Mike

Would it be appropriate on a forum like this to upload the invoice to get opinions on charges? The bill was divided into roughly 8.7K labor and 5.3K parts. Big ticket items were axle, water heater, elect. brakes. But there is also 5k listed as misc. electrical and plumbing. At $100 dollars per hour, that's 87 hours labor.
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Old 12-02-2014, 04:26 PM   #6
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Would like to know the name of the place you took it, I want to avoid it. I hope you can come to an agreement with the price.
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Old 12-02-2014, 04:32 PM   #7
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It has been done before (ie., uploading an invoice). If you want to be polite, you might obscure the shop's identifying information.

So why did you take the trailer to the shop? What were the items they estimated would need to be addressed? Did you sign any kind of workorder/request for services (that might have some kind of verbage regarding substantial overages)?

It is hard to believe any business would offer you a quote of thousands of dollars, then provide a bill for double the cost at the end without so much as a phone call in between. Was there any discussion as time went by about the scope of the repairs increasing substantially?
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Old 12-02-2014, 04:53 PM   #8
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I believe In Colorado we have a law that protects consumers from runaway invoices. I believe a shop must provide a written invoice if the original quote or agreement is exceeded by a penny more than 10% over original. You might check with the AGs office for clarity.

WOW, hope this works out for you! Most people don't spend $5300 in parts for a whole return!
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Old 12-02-2014, 05:14 PM   #9
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I would talk to a GOOD lawyer. It might be that a letter from said lawyer would be enough to get the dealer to settle for a more reasonable price.

Reputable lawyers don't usually charge for a consultation. You could at least find out if you have a leg to stand on here.
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Old 12-02-2014, 05:56 PM   #10
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I would like to see the invoice of parts that were installed. You could call other shops to find out the cost of having an item installed by them for reference. Some of us on the forum should also be able to give you prices. Was this an Airstream shop, or were you paying for the "learning as you go" shop staff. Before talking to a lawyer, I would get comparable prices and talk to them. In your first post you indicated that there had been several calls to them. Did they indicate at any time the big price change? Chris
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Old 12-02-2014, 06:06 PM   #11
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Having spent most of my life in the automobile repair business I have a couple of thoughts.

Many states have consumer laws that protect people from exactly this situation. I would check with the state to see what the statutes dictate. Any good local attorney will be able to advise you.

Every state I have lived in requires a business to have the customers authorization before spending their money. We always called with "to the penny" quotes before starting any work and the customer was notified and authorized all repairs or work stopped. That is the law here.

Many business ignore this and customers bow to the pressure and pay bills. I see it all the time in boat yards. It is unethical, dishonest and deserving of bad press in my opinion.

One way to avoid this is to clearly establish the goals of the repair and to set spending limits with instructions to be called before any work is done to exceed those limits. You have to be realistic when it comes to a repair facilities ability to forecast "unknowns" like the rusted bolt that takes hours to remove or the unseen damage, hidden from a casual inspection. Life happens and these are daily occurrences in the repair world. You should be kept abreast of the situation though and make decisions about what can be spent. It is your money!

Good luck,
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Old 12-03-2014, 04:45 AM   #12
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The three large items, brakes, axles, water heater could easily be over $5k at an
airstream repair shop.
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Old 12-03-2014, 03:18 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments and ideas. One of the forum members (an airstream veteran) here has kindly offered to look at my invoice and give me an opinion on the bill. Some good suggestions have been made here on how to proceed. A learning experience for me as I've never had an invoice doubled without it being clearly communicated...
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Old 12-03-2014, 03:21 PM   #14
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There were some big ticket items such as fridge, plumbing, axles. My sense of the shop is that they are a little disorganized, not good at keeping customers up to date. But I'll work it out with them and next time be more careful about written estimates throughout the job. Thanks

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