Greg McFee’s 2003 Mazda MPV van is working fine now. But recently, during a check-up, a mechanic discovered the oil pan was leaking and apparently had been for a while.
“He said, 'it looks like the plug in here has stripped out the threads and you’ve got an oil leak. As a matter of fact, you’ve got about one quart of oil in the vehicle,'” McFee said.
That was a problem, because McFee says he’d only allowed the professionals at Jiffy Lube in Palo Alto to change his oil. So, after paying Mazda $413 to replace the oil pan, he turned to Jiffy Lube to reimburse him for the repair.
“It had to have been through an oil change,” he concluded. “I hadn’t had it done anywhere else.”
McFee filed a claim. It went nowhere.
“It was a total of six weeks I waited,” he said. “And nothing came of it.”
We took McFee’s case to the California Bureau of Automotive Repair.
“We strongly encourage consumers to file a complaint with us,” the bureau’s Bill Thomas said.
Thomas said that when an auto shop damages your car, the shop is on the hook.
“They are responsible,” Thomas said. “They have care and custody of the vehicle until they return it to you. So, in most cases a repair facility will be responsible for damage while at the facility.”
If it ever happens to you, and you wind up in a dispute, the state recommends you file an official complaint.
File a complaint online: https://www.dca.ca.gov/webapps/bar/complaints.php
Call in a complaint: 855-837-7985.
Shops don’t have to respond to you, but they are required to respond to the state – a conversation that can get testy, Thomas said.
“They’re not required to respond politely in all cases – generally they do,” he said. “We do maintain interaction with them until there is a resolution.”
Thomas said the Bureau aims to respond to consumers' complaints within 10 days.
As for McFee and his van, he contacted NBC Bay Area Responds after his worthless, six-week wait.
“I felt like I was getting the brush off,” he said.
We e-mailed Jiffy Lube and got immediate results.
“An hour and a half later, I had a call from Jiffy Lube, saying we’re going to get a check off to you,” McFee said.
Jiffy Lube’s corporate office in Texas attributed McFee’s delay to a personnel change. In a statement, it said it “strives to provide each customer with quality service.”
McFee is confident he’d still be waiting for a check if he hadn’t contacted NBC Bay Area Responds.
“You definitely work,” he said. “I’m glad you’re on our side.”