Since the owner of the business has responded to dissatisfied customers in this forum by saying "I wish you had contacted me directly so I could make things right, " I decided to write a letter to my contact at Pete's outlining the reason I was joining the ranks of their dissatisfied customers. Mario acknowledged receiving my letter and said he would pass it on to Pete. After this much time, I realize I will not be hearing from Pete, and it's instructive to know his prior offers to other customers to "make things right" are nothing more than hollow words. So my review simply takes the form of the communication I sent following a poor experience with this business working on my 1973 Mercedes 280SE. Here is the exact letter I sent:
I'm finally getting around to writing you to let you know what was wrong with my car, in case it could be of help to you.
First of all, I did not bring my car back to you a third time for a few reasons:
- After you told me the warm start problem was fixed, the exact same problem re-occurred the first time I drove the car.
- After you fixed the warm start problem for the second time, the car actually completely died on me in the middle of 101 on the way home - an incredibly dangerous and unnerving situation.
- Your suggestion to install an expensive "hot start" module was met with derision on the MB forum
- You estimated a stainless steel exhaust system would cost me "seven to eight times" that of a traditional MB unit when, in fact, installed the cost was less than half.
- You tried to sell me a $550 battery cable when a $10 one was just fine.
- When you and I were standing under the car looking at the engine mounts, Kevin was a few feet away, yet he didn't even bother to say hello to me. People who drive these vintage cars want some kind of basic human contact with those who are tasked with working on them; this is going to be an important and ongoing relationship.
If you put yourself in my position, you can easily understand why I would not return for more of this.
I took the car to Collie Automotive in San Rafael. His shop has nothing but five star reviews on Yelp. You may know already, but he was a former head mechanic at RAB and left to open his own shop taking some other of their best mechanics with him. Although a smaller shop than yours, they offer services you do not which I think are important. Among these, free pick up and drop off service, and the car is washed before being returned. I incurred $67 in cab fares getting to you; your website promised reimbursement and you handed me $20 for the second cab and ignored my request to be reimbursed for the first.