Not Barry Mechanical

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Help! I need some advice. Twelve years ago, I bought this vintage car and took it to the same mechanic for eight years. The first seven years were fine, but toward the end of the eighth year, the engine started to seize. I got a new mechanic who promised he’d have everything running smoothly again quickly if I paid him $700 dollars up front and signed a 4-year maintenance contract.

After I signed the contract, the new mechanic started to overhaul my vintage car, telling me he would “fundamentally transform” it. I told him I just wanted the engine fixed. He pointed to the fine print in the contract, which gave him the right to make all decisions related to my car for the duration of his 4-year contract. Worse, the costs weren’t included in the original contract. I would have to pay for everything.

I watched helplessly as this guy made major changes I never envisioned. He assured me my car’s gas engine would run much better if he converted it to electric power. He stuck solar panels up on the roof, the hood, the trunk, and the sides — generating less than 1 horsepower of electrical energy! Per the contract, he demanded I pay for all this, and he bought the solar panels from a friend of his who was running a failing “green energy” business. During the project, his friend’s business went bankrupt, and we had to get the rest of the parts from a company in China. By this time I was running out of money, but, per the contract, I still had to finance all of the mechanic’s choices, getting huge loans, again, from a company in China.

Skipping to the present, four years later, my solar-panel-covered (but gaspowered) vintage car still has an engine that seizes just as badly as the day this mechanic took over. But, he proudly tells me, it was a lot worse during most of the four years he has been working on it. And, he tells me, NO ONE could have fixed the mess he inherited from the last mechanic. But, he assures me, if I will only sign another 4-year contract, he’ll get it right this time. Further, he assures me my costs will be lower this time because he has a plan to subsidize work on my car by raising the costs for some rich customers he has. He sounds so sincere as he pats me on the back, telling me he doesn’t much like those other customers because they don’t pay their fair share — but he likes me. “So please, please sign that contract… again“, he pleads.

So here’s my dilemma: I can sign another 4-year contract with the same mechanic, who, it turns out, never worked on any car, not even for practice, before he started overhauling mine. Or, I can sign a 4-year contract with a new new mechanic. The one I have in mind has been a mechanic for over twenty years and has specialized in taking problem cars, ones that would otherwise be given up as a loss, and giving them new life.

Help me! What should I do??? My contract is about to run out, and I’m required to sign a new contract with one of my two choices this Tuesday, November 6. As you can see from my description of each mechanic, and my four years of prior experience with my current mechanic, it’s a really hard decision. Four-MORE-years, or Four-NEW-years: which should I choose?

Whatever advice you have for me, I hope you’ll keep it in mind should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, with a similar choice to make. 😉

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