Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Help Me Howard: Oil Change
Regular oil changes are important to keeping your car running well. But one South Florida man ran into trouble after he got his car serviced, and it started a long and bizarre battle you have to see to believe. The story in tonight's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Linda Scherruble: "Look how happy we were."
A trip down memory lane can be quite a ride, especially when you've been together 34 years.
John Scherruble: "We are, I guess you'd call it, college sweethearts."
And Linda and John haven't stayed together this long without also being good friends and admirers of each other.
Linda Scherruble: "Good husband, good father, good provider."
Luckily for Linda, John is good at the little things like taking care of her car with regular oil changes but the last one.
John Scherruble: "This was no routine oil change."
The couple can joke now, but John's last trip for an oil change was anything but funny.
John Scherruble: "There was a river of oil going down our brand new driveway. We just had redone it. It was leaking quite a bit of oil."
Upset but understanding, John took the car back to the shop. Fifteen minutes later they told him they fixed the leak.
John Scherruble: "I assumed everything was cool. I went off on my merry way."
But John had no idea what had been done to his car until he took it to the dealer a few weeks later for a tune up and was given some stunning news.
John Scherruble: "I said, 'You can't service my car? He says, 'No. Someone has epoxy closed your drain plug, so that we can't get it open, no one could ever get it open. It was sabotaged.'"
The pictures show the sabotage, but the person who glued the plug wasn't done.
John Scherruble: "I was shocked. I said, 'You're kidding.' He said, 'No.'"
Turns out the grump who changed the oil then used the epoxy to write an insult on the oil pan.
John Scherruble: "The word 'slut' written in the blue epoxy on the bottom of the oil pan.
Linda Scherruble: "Very, very upsetting."
John and Linda will get over the insult, but now it's impossible to ever change the oil in the car without replacing the oil pan, so John headed back to the service center to talk to the manager.
John Scherruble: "He immediately apologized, which I appreciated. He said that should not have happened, so I interpreted that as he knew what had happened."
The apology made John feel better, but the realization the guy who did it was still working on other people's cars troubled him.
John Scherruble: "That person may be working on somebody's brakes. Who wants to have a person working on their brakes that's having a bad day? That's scary."
John asked the shop to pay for his new oil pan. Months went by and no satisfaction.
John Scherruble: "We're not looking to crucify anyone, but, by the same token, there has to be consequences both for the individual and the company."
But do those consequences include a new oil pan, and can you put a price tag on an insult? Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "They are responsible for the damage to the car and any damage that the original oil leak caused such as to the driveway. To be damaged by the written word would be considered libel, but in this case, it doesn't reach that level."
When we contacted the corporate offices, they were quick and cooperative. The divisional Vice President told us while they don't normally keep epoxy in stores, but there is no doubt they did service Johns car.
They can't be certain who did it, but the person who worked on the car has quit and could not be questioned. They also agreed to reimburse John, giving him $1,200.
And, if you are wondering why there is no money for the written insult, Howard has the explanation.
Howard Finkelstein: "If this word was written on a billboard on 1-95 it would be libel, and for libel to be actionable, the words must not only be false but must be read or heard by someone else and, as a result, damage your reputation. That didn't happen in this case since most people couldn't see it under the car."
John and Linda got the check but now they are looking for a new place to get their quick oil change.
John Scherruble: "It's getting more rare, unfortunately, I think, to get good service, particularly in auto repair and auto service."
Patrick Fraser: "Now, when it comes to auto repairs, if it's over a $100 get the estimate in writing, and, remember, they can't do additional work without your permission. If they do, you may not have to pay for it. As for someone writing on the bottom of your car, this is the first time we have seen this, so, odds are, it's not going to happen to you."
Rough repairs left you running on fumes? Don't stall around. Contact us. We aren't good with a wrench, but we will have you up and running around in no time.
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