Saturday, June 29, 2013

The week from auto mechanic hell.

Sunday I left to take Julia and 3 girlfriends to the beach for a couple of days in the camper.  We were not 30 minutes away when I heard a bang and smoke coming out of the left rear wheel.  We stopped on the Autostrada and eventually made it to a garage where the owner said he would fix it for the next day.  Next day Luisa took me Julia and two friends, one dropped out, to pick it up and we departed again after paying 215 euro.  Another 20 minutes or so down the road the other side did the same thing.  We limped off the autostrada and found another garage in a small town.  We ate lunch waiting for it to open.  Then the girls and I spent the day inside the camper inside the garage waiting for the owner mechanic to fix it only to be told at 5 he could not do it until the next day.  So beach trip canceled and Luisa had to pick us up again.  Next day paid another 400 and drove it home thinking all was done.  The day after I decided to give it a bit of a test drive and discovered that the cable that controls the hand brake was loose. 

I should mention that the reason for all this trouble was that during the bi-annual check up we were told that the rear brakes were bad.  So we paid about 400 euro to have them completely replaced.  And the cause of our problems was that when installing the new brakes they tightened up the nut holding the bearings on too much, causing them to self destruct. 

Now comes the really fun part.  I went back to the original  brake installer to ask for some money back.  They denied that anything could have been their fault.  After an hour or so of arguing back and forth the father at this father and sons operation angrily told me that if one independent mechanic told me it was his fault he would pay me back the money I spent. My next move was to take the camper to a mechanic we knew to fix the loose cable and ask him what he thought.  He was too busy so he recommended another who it turned out was also too busy.  Finally the third one was available.  This company named Bristot was highly recommended by a friend but I had never used them as they are a bit outside Belluno.  So, we left the camper there thinking they would fix the cable and check over the work done by the others.  And also each of the three said that it was obviously caused by the first mechanic.

So back I go to tell the dad that it was agreed by not just one but three others that it was caused by his work.  Then of course he said it was not really his fault because there was wear in the other parts causing them to inadvertently make the nuts too tight.  But after a long "discussion" he did give me back 300. 

Now I get a call from the final mechanic telling me to come over and discuss the problems they found.  Well, it seems none of the other mechanics that fixed the problem did the job correctly and to top things off the original mechanic had put on the completely wrong brake sets, which is why the hand brake cable came undone.  So after some discussion the head this other father and sons team Mr. Bristot agreed to go with me to find the original brakes that were removed to see for sure which of a series of brake sets were the original equipment.  We found them in the presence of the owner of this first garage and he finally realized that they had really screwed up.  I suppose that also in the presence of another mechanic he had no choice but to face the truth.  He agreed to pay for all the work to put things right again.  And when we went to pick up the camper after it had finally been properly repaired we happened to see him leaving having paid the bill in full. 

Now we are preparing to leave for a couple of weeks in the camper and I have to confess to having a bit of fear that something else will go wrong.  But at least I am confident in the work done by Mr. Bristot, it's just too bad that he told me will retire soon.  I just hope his sons are as good as he is. 

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