Special thanks to our guest blogger, Daveed Shachar, life member AACI.
Opinions and anecdotes presented by Daveed in this guest blogpost are those of the author and not policies of the AACI.
July 18, 2012
I have witnessed too many cases in which an unscrupulous mechanic or electrician has stolen a battery out of a car with full compliance on the part of the hapless owner. In fact, the mark never knows that he is a victim. In this scam, an automotive mechanic or electrician gets a brand new battery at the victim’s expense, while the victim thinks that he has gotten a great deal.
Here’s a recent example of the scam in action. In this example, the mechanic is a man and the victim is a woman because that way it’s easier to follow the story.
A woman I know discovered that her car wouldn’t start, and called the towing agency linked to her car insurance company. The mechanic showed up shortly thereafter, and told her, correctly, that the battery was completely dead, unable to take a charge. He also told her that although the battery was only 16 months old, the guarantee on that kind of battery was only for 12 months. He offered to sell her a new one on the spot, with an 18 month guarantee, and would even take the old one off of her hands. She refused the offer, asked that he start the car, and drove it to an authorized garage. At the garage she was surprised to learn that she still had a two month guarantee on the old battery. The garage removed the battery from her car and sent it to the manufacturer for a replacement battery.
What’s the mechanic’s interest in replacing the battery? Getting someone to buy a new battery two months early? That’s profitable, but it’s possible to make a lot more money than that. His goal is to sell a new battery at full price, and get the old battery as a gift. He then returns that old battery into the company responsible for it, and they issue him a new battery, which he then sells at full retail price.
Every new battery has a date stamped onto it so that the dealer can know exactly when the battery was installed into the car. This prevents fraud on the part of the dealer as well as on the part of the customer. When the customer brings in a dead battery with a guarantee, a quick look at the battery is enough to determine when it was installed. Replacement batteries have no date stamped into them, as they are only guaranteed until the expiration of the original guarantee.
For instance, in this case, the battery was purchased on March 13, 2011. The guarantee will end on September 13, 2012. The replacement battery, even though it’s brand new and will probably last at least 18 months is guaranteed only until September 13, 2012.
So what does the unscrupulous mechanic do with the battery? He sells it as new, offering his own written guarantee instead of the manufacturer’s guarantee. If the battery lasts at least 18 months, which most do, he’s made some profit on the new battery he just sold, in addition to receiving the full price for the battery he just got for free. This money goes directly to his own pocket, with no receipt, no V.A.T., and no income tax. If the battery dies before the 18 months are up, he has to give the new customer a new battery at his own expense, but he’s still no worse off than he would have been had he been honest in the first palce.
In the case above, the mechanic was doubly unscrupulous. In most cases, the mechanic admits that the battery is near the end of its life, and says that it’s not worth the hassle to jump start it, charge it, and try to use it. He claims that the next time it dies, it might be terribly inconvenient, as you might be stranded in the middle of nowhere, or in a great hurry to get somewhere, so the best thing to do is buy a new battery right away. If you try to say that you have a guarantee, he will patiently explain that the free replacement is made especially in the factory to last only a few months, so it’s still a better idea to buy a new battery on the spot which will give you 18 months of uninterrupted service. However, in this case he informed the woman that there was no time left on the guarantee, because it was a foreign-made battery. This was not true, as the battery, which was indeed foreign-made, turned out to have an 18 month guarantee.
To sum up:
1. Your battery dies.
2. The mechanic discovers that the battery won’t take a charge, even though it’s under guarantee, and offers to sell you a new one on the spot.
The mechanic tells you falsely that the guarantee has ended, and offers to sell you a new battery on the spot.
3. The mechanic installs the new battery in your car, and takes the old one away.
4. The mechanic returns the old battery to the battery company for a replacement under the guarantee. He doesn’t even need a proof of purchase, as the date of installation is stamped on the battery.
5. The mechanic sells the replacement battery as new, offering his own personal guarantee.
6. If the replacement battery lasts until at least the end of the guarantee, he’s made a profit equal to the profit on the new battery sale plus the entire retail price of a brand new battery, between NIS 800 and NIS 1,500 in this country.
7. If the replacement battery fails early, he’s still made a profit on the new battery sale.
Buy a battery from a company that guarantees you nation-wide service. Ask to see a list of the authorized garages, so that you can determine if they have a lot of locations.
Never buy a battery from someone who tells you that the guarantee is only valid at the point of sale.
Don’t buy a new battery when the old battery still has time left on the original guarantee, even if it’s only for a single day. The replacement will last for over a year.
Keep the guarantee for the battery in your car, so that you can refer to it if there’s ever a problem. A reputable dealer will have a record of the sale, but knowing if your guarantee is still valid can help you make the correct decision when dealing with the repair personnel.
Sometimes the potential thief is his own boss. That makes filing a complaint complicated. If the potential thief works for a garage, dealer or auto parts store, consider a complaint to the management. This won’t help you personally, but as the word gets out that people are complaining, thefts and attempted thefts will decrease.
Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2 (across from Hadar Mall)
Buses # 10, 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.
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