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‘Sure, I can fix that for you’ scams

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am a technophobe.

If it’s got a power source or an electrical plug, I get confused opening the box.

This very critical mental block extends to far less serious things, such as routine oil changes and air conditioner recharges.

The elderly and businessmen with manicured nails and wearing Ralph Lauren suits are easy targets for less-than-honest repair facilities.

Seniors make great targets, too, and bubble-headed blondes who routinely use words like “thingamajiggie” “whoozayoucal it,” and “clunk, clunk noises.” (In fact, females in general.)

Are there repair facility frauds out there? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding, yes.

Do too many people allow scammers wearing repairman clothes into their homes? Again, same answer.

Here are some hints to help you avoid the bad guys.


1.If the vehicle is still running, always get a second opinion/estimate. (A third if necessary.)

2. When you go into a shop for “routine maintenance service,” unless you know the shop well, be very careful. Some unscrupulous shops will actually set another part up for wear, tear or damage while they are doing the “free” inspection on your car. The intent is to make you happy that you are getting something “free,” then grab your return business four weeks later when you hear a “clunk, clunk, clunk.”

3. Oil change coupons? You walk in with a $23.99 “deal” and walk out with a $63 charge on your credit card. It’s up-selling at is worst. Better grade oil? A charge for the rags used? Topping off fluids?

4. Air conditioning repair. It’s uncomfortable when the AC quits in 115-degree weather. You might need a recharge of the Freon ($125?) — and end up with an $800 job after listening to a quick-talking “your car is about to explode” bunch of scary mumbo jumbo.


1. Avoid a door knock from a stranger who just happens to have extra material left over from another job and will give you a “deal.”

2. Watch out for generally phrased coupons. Agree on a final price BEFORE the job begins — in writing.

3. Understand that a new business can pay to join the BBB, so never rely too much on paid affiliation endorsements. An endorsement/approval from a known company, e.g. Maytag or Westinghouse, means so much more.

4. Know up front exactly what products (brands and quality) will be used to do your job. In writing.

5. See #4 under vehicles. If it’s your house, that $800 can turn into $3,000.

It all boils down to doing your homework, knowing who you are dealing with, checking out the contractor or mechanic, obtaining the quote in writing before the job is authorized and understanding “There Ain’t No Such Thing As a Free Lunch.”

If you still believe you were scammed, make a report. Me? I prefer the Consumer Protection Bureau as well as online forums.

Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.

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