Melissa, starry-eyed soy-lovin' Expatriated Zulu (oddharmonic) wrote,
Melissa, starry-eyed soy-lovin' Expatriated Zulu

Is it legal to give an estimate followed by an invoice for 20% more 20 minutes later?

Today was supposed to be quiet and I was going to put in some extra time on the hot spots in the living room since I did that in the kitchen yesterday. Instead, we had crazy drama.

A $950 car repair estimate becomes an $1100+ invoice...

Two days ago, Vogon dropped off the car at a local car shop because he suspected it had a leaking heater core. The shop gave him an estimate of $950 to repair that, replace the thermostat and flush and fill the radiator. He agreed to that.

This morning, he walks over to pick the car up and moves it because the shop's parking lot is often crowded. He goes in to pay for the work and is now told he owes just over $1100 for the work. He tells them he's going to pay $950 and hands them an already filled out check. They photocopy the check and tell him they aren't going to accept it. He repeats that he agreed to pay $950 and leaves.

He comes home livid and starts calling lawyers to ask if what the car shop did is legal. About ten minutes after he comes in, someone knocks on the front door. I can't see anyone standing in front of the peephole, so I tell him that someone knocked but I can't see them. (Delivery people and building maintenance often do that but announce "UPS" or whatever when they knock. If I can't see someone and they don't identify themselves, I don't open the door.) He comes over and opens the door to a police officer, who asks him to step outside to talk. Vogon walks outside and closes the door behind him.

...then the police arrive.

Several minutes later, I hear a scuffle and a thump. I go outside to see Vogon lying facedown on the concrete breezeway floor, handcuffed and bleeding. He looks confused and angry and smells like he's in ketosis, which clues me in that his blood sugar is crashing. I tell the police officer that Vogon is hypoglycemic and becomes argumentative when his blood sugar is too low, then ask if I can get him a glucose tablet. He agrees and I return with a sealed tube of tablets, open it in front of him and give Vogon (now sitting up against the wall) one. He's already shaking and gagging so much that he drops it on the ground after a few seconds, so I give him a new one and dispose of the dropped one inside.

I sit down outside and talk to the officer, then assess Vogon's injuries and ask if I can clean him up. (Note here that I'm not a medical professional; I used to be certified as a wilderness first responder and I was concerned about a possible head injury because he had a concussion last year.) The officer agrees, so I go inside again to get the first-aid kit. When I come back out, a second officer is there. I use an antiseptic wipe to clean the laceration on the bridge of his nose and a rising abrasion/lump on his left temple. I open an adhesive bandage to put on his nose, but the officer asks me not to because they've called an ambulance crew to check him out. Vogon expresses embarassment that they've done that, but they say just to sit tight.

While we wait, the first officer briefs the second one on the situation and I understand that the officer immobilized and cuffed Vogon because he thought he was behaving erratically and smelled of alcohol. (I watch his alcohol intake like a hawk, so I was able to tell them the last drink he had was a bottled hefeweisen the night before.) It turns out the responding crew is not from any of the closest several stations to us, so we have about a ten-minute wait for the responding crew to arrive from a Dallas FD station down on Beltline. (There are two DFD stations, two Carrollton FD stations and an Addison FD station closer to us. Yes, I keep track of things like that; no, I didn't volunteer that knowledge at the time.)

A fire engine and an ambulance arrive and we go downstairs for them to check Vogon out. I give his medical history and contact information to one responder, another cleans his nose laceration again and then checks his glucose level with an extremely slow meter (it counted down from 60 seconds before displaying the result, no kidding).

The police take us to the bank...

More discussion between the officers and responding crew ensues; the fire engine and ambulance leave several minutes later and the police officers ask if I can go get cash out of his account to pay the auto shop. I reply that no, we keep separate accounts, but he does have the funds in his account and I'm willing to cover the remaining balance the shop wants with funds from my account. They decide to escort us both to the bank in separate cars, then take us down to the car shop to settle.

The car I'm riding in winds up behind after being stopped at a stoplight and my cell phone rings while we're at the light. I guess I was subconciously transmitting distress signals because -- no surprise -- it was saarlander, who kindly listened to me recount what had just happened. When we get to the bank, the officer suggests I wait in the car, so only Vogon goes into the bank. We go down to the car shop and again only Vogon goes in with an officer and comes out with the receipt but not the car keys. He waves and smiles at me before getting back into the car he's riding in so I hope that's a good sign.

...and the car shop "can't find" our keys when I return later to pay off the balance.

We're returned home, I thank the police officers and gently redirect Vogon to say thank you and go upstairs to eat before he gets wound up again. They leave and we head upstairs.

A few minutes later he realizes I hadn't gone into the bank and asks if I want to go. I do, so we go and I get more than enough to pay the remaining balance listed on the receipt, which is noted with the balance due today. Vogon still does not want to pay them, so I tell him it's fine if he waits in the car while I take care of it. I go in and pay the balance, get my change and receipt and take it back out to the car when I realize they hadn't given me the keys, so I go back in with my receipt to ask for the keys. Vogon follows me in and is rather upset that they didn't give me the keys, so I repeatedly tell him he needs to be quiet or stand outside. He's quiet for a bit, then gets angry again because I've been waiting five minutes in an empty lobby without any update from the manager on the keys. He finally tells Vogon he needs to step outside or he will call the police and Vogon is rather cranky about it but finally agrees. The manager leaves the lobby to ask a mechanic about the location of the keys and I turn to the customer that has been in the lobby the entire time and apologize to him; he replies, "I totally understand, I'm not satisfied with them either!".

A full ten minutes after I asked for the keys, they're found and we leave. I ask to go through the Taco Bell drive through to get a snack and something for Vogon because I know he hasn't eaten today and it's almost 2 PM (!). He says he's not hungry but agrees, so I make a small order and we head over to the school, where he seethes for a bit while I eat, then he eats what I ordered for him and we return to our regularly scheduled day.

Bottom line: Vogon's pissed and we are Not Amused.

Vogon is ready to take them to small claims court, but I don't know about how that works here. (I've only done that process in Virginia when my ex-roommates refused to repay me the cost of the refrigerator lease that they agreed to pay me for so they could keep it when I moved to another room.)

As a small consolation, I've bought their business name in .com, .net, .biz and .info with private registration all for $20 thanks to a package deal from my registrar and plan to use them for something akin to What's Wrong At Jiffy Lube? because that's how I deal with disagreements I don't think court would help.

For whoever asked me this summer whether police cars have TollTags, they do. Carrollton PD cars have them mounted right below the rearview mirror with the car number screened onto the side of the tag facing the windshield.

edit 2019: Well, I just figured out why Vogon's neck's been sore all afternoon. I missed one injury in my initial assessment -- he also contacted the concrete about an inch into his scalp from the hairline above his left eye, hard enough to take off a n approximately 1x1cm patch of skin and hair. Grah.
Tags: 976.42812_dallas, bad_business_practices, cranky

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