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State Senate Slams the Door on Dishonest Mechanics

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RALEIGH — Many people have taken their car in for a simple repair only to get a huge bill in return. Thursday theNorth Carolina Senateapproved a bill to slam the door on car repair rip-offs.

Horror stories about dishonest mechanics are the largest number of complaints theOffice of the Attorney Generalreceives each year.

Bobbi Bourne always has her car repaired by a mechanic she knows and trusts. She knows the repair he is going to make, and she trusts that it will not cost more than he said.

"It shouldn't be, you walk in... after a long day to pick up your car, and what's this extra $200 for? That should not happen whatsoever," mechanic Chet Nedwideck said.

Nedwideck says he always gives his customers an estimate for repairs, and calls them if it is going to cost more. However, not all mechanics follow that rule.

Therefore, the N.C. Senate approved a bill requiring them to do so. If they do not, or if the bill is 10 percent higher than the estimate, mechanics would not be allowed to keep the car during the dispute, like they are now.

"They shouldn't get to keep your car if they've done work that you did not authorize, that you did know they were going to do, and if they run up the bill way more than you told them to do," says Sen. Brad Miller.

The Senate bill would also give consumers the right to get their old parts back, if there's a question of whether the work was really needed. The goal is to reduce the number of conflicts involving auto mechanics, and that sounds good to this car owner.

"At least you're going to know what to expect when you do pick up your car," Bourne said.

Thirty states, including Virginia and South Carolina, already have similar legislation to protect consumers. The bill now goes to the House.

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Laurie Clowers, Reporter
Greg Clark, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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