Can an auto shop change their quoted price after a car has been towed to their facility before even looking at the car?

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Can an auto shop change their quoted price after a car has been towed to their facility before even looking at the car?

I have a car that needs some work. I called a shop and provided a detailed
description of the history and problem. I was given a quote of 1 hour
diagnosis time. Not repair, just the time to figure out what is wrong. Based
on that price, I paid to have the car towed to the shop. Once there, I was
told that now, based on the type of car which they knew from the call it
would be 1.5 hours of time. The next day, without ever even looking at the
car, they called and said that based on the history, it would now be 5 hours of
time to diagnose.

The history given over the phone was the same as that repeated when the car was
dropped off. I would never have paid to have the car towed to this shop if I
had known the price of the 5 hour diagnosis. I feel as if they gave me a low
number just to get me to pay to have the car towed there. Once at the shop,
they assume I will just pay the higher price. Still, the information has not
changed and they have yet to even look at the car.

Do I have a case to take them to small claims court to recover the cost of the
tow to their facility, the inevitable tow home, and my time from work I had to
take to arrange all of this?

Thank you

Asked on March 18, 2019 under Business Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, based on what you write, you could potentially sue them on one or both of the following bases:
1) Breach of contract: even if it was only an oral (unwritten) agrerement, there was an agreement between that two of you as to the price to diagnose.
2) Fraud: lying about the cost to get you to bring your car to them. 
If you do elect to sue, file the small claims case on both reasons or bases, to increase the likelihood of success.


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