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Old 07-22-2013, 08:37 PM   #1
BostonWhaler
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Default Latchkey Auto in Meredith

Apologies if this isn't the best place to put this in the forum... I'm more of a lurker. Hopefully this will help avoid any Winni forum members getting ripped off.

Really disappointed.

To preface, John Bird of Latchkey had done some awesome work on a previous Audi and VW Passat and Corrado that I owned, about 12 years ago. Since then, I've recommended him to dozens of people. I moved out of the area about a decade ago, but my family still resides in the Lakes Region.

During a recent trip to NH to see family, my car had it's catalytic converter plug up. I initially purchased the parts to do an exhaust job (complete... headers to tailpipe, on a 1988 Crown Victoria), but decided the work was more than I could do without a welder and mandrel bender at my family's home.

I contacted Mr. Bird, and he agreed to do the work. Work proposed was to bolt on a set of headers, an "H pipe", and weld mufflers on, and custom bend tailpipes to go over the rear axle and out the sides.

I unfortunately did not ask for an estimate or timeframe for such a job, as Crown Victorias are easy to work on, and research showed this was a 4-6 hour job, and if parts were brought to the mechanic, $400-600 in labor.

The job actually took 3 days. I was also charged over $880 to install an exhaust on a Ford. As an example, over $100 of the job was to install a foot of heater hose from an air tube to the engine, and tighten two hose clamps.

The bad part is... This is a car that uses the old R12 refrigerant for air conditioning. I had, one month prior, spent many hundreds of dollars getting the system leak tested and recharged with the proper, and very expensive R12... As opposed to converting to R134a which is less efficient. The car had a recently inspected and perfectly working A/C system the day I brought it to him (it was used to defog the windshield during a downpour en route for delivery).

When I received the car back, the A/C did not work at all. Due to the design of the engine, it is impossible to install the headers without discharging (and reclaiming the very expensive refrigerant). Either Mr. Bird stole the R12 via reclamation, or just vented it to atmosphere (which is a HUGE EPA violation, as it's a CFC refrigerant). I now have a car that I'll have to spend upwards of $800 to retrofit to CFC-free refrigerant, when it was working flawlessly when the car was delivered to him.

There is a large chip in the paint in the leading edge of the hood. The chip extends down the vertical lip on the passenger side, so it would be impossible that it'd be from debris, as it is obscured from view when the hood is closed. This car received a complete paint job in October 2012, and this is now the only blemish.

A hard line (similar to a brake line) was snapped off the driver's side frame rail, just behind the header. It is an older car, and I understand things break, but he snapped it off and just left it without telling me.

And to top everything else off... The exhaust installed is now rattling against the underside of the car.

I contacted Mr. Bird, the shop owner, for an amicable resolution, and was immediately countered with "you ***holes and your older cars are always trying to get something out of me", as well as numerous other expletives and no chance of any type of help.

I'm no idiot to cars work, and cost of repair. In this case an afternoon, $4-600 job turned into a 3 day $900 job, and he broke over $1000 worth of stuff in the process.

Don't walk... RUN away from John Bird at Latchkey Auto. Sad that I have to name someone in this forum, but the guy is being a total jerk of a business owner.
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Old 07-23-2013, 05:20 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience with Latchkey. They do a lot of work on both my business and personal cars and I've never had any problems with him. More telling he even takes care of my mother in-laws car for me and she doesn't have any complaints!

I will tell you one lesson I've learned many times - always always always get an estimate! You can't blame the other guy for something being too expensive when you didn't even ask what the cost would be.

Hope it all gets fixed up for you.
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Old 07-23-2013, 06:08 AM   #3
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and was immediately countered with "you ***holes and your older cars are always trying to get something out of me",

He literally said that to you?? Wow unbelievable.
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:20 AM   #4
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I have found the guys at LatchKey to be perfectly awesome and will continue to use and refer them to my friends.

Headers, H-Pipe, and duals on an 88 CrownVic, really.?
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Old 07-23-2013, 11:09 AM   #5
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Default Mechanics

Most mechanics don't have a clue about the older cars. I'm surprise you took it to Latchkey, I've heard pros and cons about the place, mostly cons.

If you are looking for an mechanic that will deal with older GMs. Let me know and I can find one for you. I'm a Mopar guy and I restored a number of cars in my life. I do have a good old car mechanic but he is near Concord.
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:25 AM   #6
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Common mistake by many to not get an estimate up front first.

A special license or certification is required to work on Freon systems.

There are many good local mechanic shops in the area.
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:01 AM   #7
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Seems like the owner of the shop has had come back problems working on older cars so seems to me if he wants to avoid it don't work on older cars. Turn the work away. I have run into a number of places that do just that, if you bring them anything over 10 years old, even if it's clearly in excellent condition they will not touch it. For me, I'm lucky I do all my own work but have run into problems getting inspections done. I've been refused at a number of places and the excuse, age of the vehicle. I can certainly understand that, it's their choice but stinks for me when I HAVE to get an inspection done.

One thing I will say in defense of the owner of this shop, having worked as a tech myself I have had people come back complaining that things are "broken" on their vehicles that weren't before it was repaired and DEMAND the shop fix them as if it is the fault of the shop. It puts the owner, or dealer for that matter in a sticky situation as whatever is broken could very well have happened as a result of a repair or may have nothing to do with what was done at all, just somebody trying to get something for nothing and believe me there are plenty of those out there. So do you risk your reputation and tell the customer to go pound sand, or do you lose money fixing something that may never have been broken by you in the first place? Tough call. Not suggesting this is the case here, just saying it happens.
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