Car servicing - disparity between the invoice and what is actually done

From new until 3 years old I took my Toyota to be serviced by the dealership which sold me the car. I left to go elsewhere when I proved (when collecting the car) that the service invoice stated work that was claimed to have been done, but was not (rotating tyres, checking pressure of the spare wheel etc).

Recently, on my second visit to another dealer to service the car, lo and behold the invoice lists many tasks allegedly performed. I checked just one when collecting the car - rotating tyres (claimed to have been done) but I know that no rotation took place because one of the four tyres is a different make to the other three and if rotation took place, it would not be in the same place as it was when I left the car with Toyota. The staff member whom I paid the $282 for a 42k service admitted “no rotation was done”, crossed the task off the invoice and said “sorry 'bout that, but that’s how the invoices come up when we print them”.
I asked: “shouldn’t you cross all the items that come up this way on the printed invoice before giving the customer the invoice, because it seems that some tasks were performed, but clearly not all were. It seems wrong to present such an invoice for payment”. I wanted to use a different adjective but thought not to raise the temperature. The dealer will know what I think when I don’t return there for the next service.
There are other claimed tasks performed but I did not verify if they were done.
My question: Is it fraud to claim work done which was not done? If so, what remedy does the public have?

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Of course it is fraud.

Perhaps name the dealers so as to forewarn others.

We have always taken our present and our previous Honda CR-V to the local Honda dealer for servicing and their prices were cheaper than what Autotune and the independent workshop we used for previous vehicles quoted.

However, they have progressively cut back on customer service.

When we bought our curent vehicle from them in 2014, their courtesy vehicle would drop me at home in the morning after I left our vehicle for servicing and pick me up to collect it in the afternoon.

They then stopped traveling as far as our home, then cut back to only covering the CBD, then only doing set time runs in the CBD.

When I dropped it off for a service yesterday, a person actually asked me if I wanted the free car wash which they always previously did without asking.

My wife just came in from the garage and showed me the dirt all over her hands after she touched the alloy wheels.

What a great “free” car wash.

And it was great shelling out $75 for 2 taxi trips.

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Possibly not fraud unless it could be proven it was an intentional action and you have suffered a loss. It is unlikely it is an intentional action or you have suffered financially for the reasons outlined below.

It is likely that they go by the service manual/manufacture service schedule which lists tasks to complete at each service interval. They then print the standard wording onto the invoice. It is possibly labour intensive for mechanics to manually change each standard service with different actions.

Could the wording be improved, possibly.

It is likely they inspected the tyres and found they didn’t need rotating as the wear was even across all tyres. Confusion could have been avoided if the wording was ‘inspected tyre wear and rotated as necessary’.

If this was the case, there may be no point in rotating tyres is there is no obvious need, just because the service manual indicates it is a standard task.

You could write to them indicating that you have concerns that they use standard wording for each service interval invoice when in fact there may be differing tasks undertaken. You can use the above example of tyre rotations where the invoice says X, but possibly they mean ‘inspected tyre wear and rotated as necessary’.

Also check the terms and conditions on the invoice as it may state that the description is standard from the manufacturer service schedule and actual tasks performed may vary depending on inspections or condition of the vehicle. If this sort of wording exists, it covers them for any changes to that described in the standard invoice descriptions.

As most services are a fixed price, there is little recourse to get a refund or such like as the service would have been the same price whether or not particular tasks were completed.

It is worth noting that one doesn’t need to take a vehicle back to the dealer for servicing if one is not happy with the service and support given. Providing the service is done by a suitability qualified and experienced person in accordance with the service manual, it is no different to that of the dealership. Warranties etc aren’t affected.

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An issue could be if a service as shown on an invoice was not performed and that failure to perform contributed to or resulted in a failure/accident of some sort. Liability could get interesting.

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I travel to a larger town to get my Toyota serviced. The invoice seems to be a standard (for that mileage) generated list. They tick what they did and there is a break down to labour, parts, service. So I expect that I am not charged for something if it is not manually ticked, but I have no way of knowing that.

They also supply photos, data etc on the vehicle and quotes and listing of work that may be required in the future. It is quite comprehensive. If requested, they will give us the used parts. Mr Z does request them because he wants to look at wear patterns, metal fragments etc. He does his own service on the Ford.

They offer to drop me somewhere, but being in the middle of shops I rarely see, I am happy to wander. They give me an estimated time of completion, and a text to say when I can pick it up. The charges seem to be lower than what I expect, compared with other services we use.

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1. Inspecting tyres by service staff. You wrote:

I see your point, but not so in my case.
In fact the service woman told me that 2 tyres need to be changed as they are wearing down. She offered me a tyre at $140 or so each (I cannot recall exactly) but I declined. Instead later that day online I checked out a firm a that just deals with tyres and they offer the same tyre (KUMHO) for $88. Both Toyota and this other firm alleged the price includes “fitting and balancing”.

2. Car servicing is oddly cheaper at a dealer than elsewhere. Not odd, when it seems they don’t do much

I infer she indeed knew what (little) was done by her colleagues in their alleged service. Also I was most surprised that a place I used to frequent, formerly known as KMART TYRE & AUTO, now called MyCar wanted $130 or so more for the same service.
Maybe the MyCar actually do what the service manual requires.

3. Terms & Conditions on invoice

As to the T&Cs on the invoice…there are none. There is a claim, as follows: “…we cover our workmanship for 6 months from the date of this invoice. We only use Toyota Genuine Parts unless otherwise specified on this invoice and all Toyota Genuine Parts have a 12 month warranty, conditions apply”.

There is no mention of what those “conditions” are.

4. Upselling by staff

As usual, before I left the dealer after dropping the car off, I was asked “would you like it washed”? Naturally I assumed this is not a gift, so I asked “how much would that be”?
I was told “$30”.
I replied “last time it was $20 or $25 and last time was 6 mths ago”.
She responded “yes well, some customers did not like our washing, so now we outsource it to professionals and they charge $30”.

I thanked her, but declined. I can wash it myself for $0

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This is why they didn’t rotate. There is no real point in rotating if two tyres need replacing. In some cases it could be dangerous if balding or uneven worn tyres were moved to the front.

The Toyota price possibly also includes someone’s time taking it elsewhere (if they don’t do their own tyres), someone especially collecting the tyres or delivery charge (if they do do tyres), a processing cost and for convenience.

Shopping around, as you found, pays off.

Terms and conditions may be at the service desk of the dealership or on the paperwork one usually signs when dropping off a vehicle.

This is possible with fixed price servicing like that offered by manufacturers. It is still worth shopping around at independent ones, preferably those recommended by friends and family.

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Fixed price servicing is priced to include everything for a standard logbook whether the vehicle is in or beyond the warranty. My shop, a pleasant 20 minute walk away, has reliably done ‘to the book’ logbook services for about $50 less than the dealer fixed price plans. Beyond warranty they fix what needs to be fixed, maintain what needs to be maintained, and are reliably $100~$300 less than the dealers.

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I usually take my car in for a ‘book service’ and go through the service schedule item by item.
Is rotate tyres on the schedule? No, then don’t do it and don’t charge me for it.
Is drain and replace brake fluid on the schedule? Then don’t do it. And don’t even try and BS me about brake fluid absorbing water. I don’t run a race car with very high brake temperatures where water could be an issue, and my car lives in a garage.
Is a wash and vacuum on the schedule? No, but if you feel you want to do that for the customer experience, do it but don’t charge me.
Oh the wiper blades are are worn and need replacing? Thanks, I’ll go to the local auto shop, buy some blades, and do it myself.

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I am with you on everything except

Ignoring brake fluid can result in pitted cylinders, a repair far more costly than changing brake fluid. For the rest about ‘water in brake fluid’ some authoritative BS, or do you see it as just BS? (hotlinked, slightly dated)

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If it is in the service schedule as prescribed by the manufacturer, then flush and redo the brake fluid. Otherwise, it is just a try on that service people in my experience seem to have latched onto. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, it by it’s nature absorbs moisture. So what.
The BS part is talking customers into getting the stuff flushed when there is no need. Like getting spark plugs changed when there is no need. Or the cooling system flushed when there is no need.

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I agree with non dealer mechanics (who are reputable) servicing the car and that is why I took my previous cal to KMART Tyre & Auto. I took the new car for 3 years to Toyota because it was under their 3 yr capped price servicing.

Before agreeing to the latest service, I established that KMART (now MyCar) wanted $130 or so more for the same service than Toyota. It seems to me that the reason Toyota was cheaper was because they did not do as they were meant to do.

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I hear you. Upselling and over servicing.
I forgot to add that while waiting for the car, I was called and asked “would you like the a/c gas replaced and the a/c unit serviced”? I did not even bother asking how much they wanted for this (IMHO) grossly superfluous task. Rather than give them a outright “no way Jose” I merely replied “what a good idea. Let me call you back in a week as I don’t have the time for this today”.

For the record, the a/c works fine. Just fine.

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Speaking of replacing items from places other than a dealer, I recall in the past only Honda parts fit Honda, whereas wiper blades, globes etc for my former Corolla were purchased at KMART for pennies and worked a treat for years.

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Try using AutoMasters. I bought a second hand Toyota a couple of years back, and a guy around the corner who services cars for Ford owners suggested I should try them. When I said “but what about the dealer?” he just laughed - and said AutoMasters would do a better job, cheaper.

So they’ve done the last three services on the car.

And I haven’t had services like this on any of my cars, over the past 40-50 years! The attention to detail is fantastic - the reports listing everything they’ve done are like nothing I’ve seen since the early 1970s - and the car’s running like clockwork.

Before this car, we had a couple of Hondas. Which we got rid of. Because we felt we were being ripped off every time we took them in for a service, at the dealer’s. Not Honda’s fault - and I’m not going to “name and shame”. But after years of being treated like that, we’re never going to even consider buying another Honda, ever again.

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It is likely there will be cheaper independent service mechanics that regularly service Toyotas or specialise in Toyotas. I wasn’t necessarily indicating the chain or franchise type business like Kmart MyCar, Ultratune etc. Many drivers take their cars to these independent mechanics as they are often family run, professionals and equally trustworthy (if not more) than the main players.

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Haven’t we all missed the point? If we can’t rely on what they said they have done on one item how do we know they have done the others and what are we paying for? I would demand the checklist or notes that were done by the mechanic

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Garage workshop cam?
Get the App, when I have time to create it.
Login from your mobile device and watch via the mechanics body cam how the experts take good care of your vehicles needs. Perfect for keeping tabs on those we don’t trust. I think not, but?

I doubt it will catch on in that format. There have been legal issues over spouses spying on their partners. Bosses on workers is a different scenario. A general workshop cam might be suitable. One could see the vehicles in the bays and on the hoist, plus all the related activity in a less personal format.

I do wonder if the world is really that bad a place, or it’s that some of us have had one too many bad experiences eroding trust?

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Your point on 0n dealer mechanics is valid. As a consumer,equally distrusting of mechanics whether they work for a dealer or a national chain of mechanics or a one man band, I use price as an indicator of “value”.

For 12 years I used a one man band to service my Corolla. Initially he was cheaper than the Toyota dealer but soon enough his price eclipsed Toyota. I stayed with him because i knew I could get the car serviced or a pink slip at a time of my choosing.

Mt problem remains and I think I am not alone with the problem: that consumers have zero idea of just what was done to the car as in many cases the invoice is not eflective of the truth.

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Exactly! So given many (including me) cannot tell if what was said t have been done, was in fact done, then price or the location of the mechanic is the only guide we have as to where one services a vehicle.

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