Alexandria, VA: I Shall Not Tell A Lie … Mount Vernon Is Overpriced And The Employees Are Rude


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If You Want to Spend Lots of Money, Take Your Car to Das Autohaus!


DAS AUTOHAUS

1045 New Jersey Street
Lawrence, KS 66044

Phone: 785-843-9494

As is usually the case, I should have listened to my gut instinct before trusting Dave, the owner of Das Autohaus and the Scuba Shack, co-located businesses literally around the corner from our home in Lawrence, Kansas.  When I stopped by to inquire about snorkeling gear for an upcoming trip to the Caribbean and discuss hiring him as our new mechanic (having recently moved to the area), the price for a mask, snorkel, and fins that go for less than $50 (with free shipping) on Amazon.com were quoted at $99 … HINT #1 that things to come from Dave would not be cheap!

Being unemployed, we do not have a lot of money and our previous mechanic in Kansas City was always honest, fair, and did excellent work. I knew I could trust him and he never took advantage of us, unlike many mechanics, including, in my opinion, Dave and Das Autohaus.

I took our 2000 Volkswagen Beetle to Dave for a simple check of the battery (which was losing its charge on very cold mornings) this morning, expecting a fair and reasonable estimate.  He told me that it would take about an hour to run some diagnostics. I asked him how much an oil change would be while I was there and he told me, “$60”.  I told him that my last mechanic only charged me $25 (including oil, filter, checking fluids, and inflating tires) and that I thought his price was too high (HINT #2 of a rip-off … I should have walked away right then, but I believe in supporting local small businesses), so I told him not to change the oil.

Three hours later, Dave finally called and told me that the problem was in-fact the battery, which I assumed was the case, and considering the fact that batteries for my vehicle run around $100 (including FREE testing and installation) at any reputable auto parts store, I figured it should run me $160 more or less ($100 for the battery and an plus or minus an hour, to be generous, for labor – diagnostics and installation). I asked him how much it was going to cost and he said, “that comes to a little over $280”.  

I thought maybe I had misheard the price, so I asked him, “did you say $280?”. He confirmed the ridiculous price and I said, “I can buy a battery for $100 with free installation at an auto parts store, so why do you want to charge me $280? How much is the battery?”.  He replied, “$140”, to which I responded, “so you want to charge me $140 in labor to replace a battery I can get installed for free anywhere else?” He told me, “that’s what it costs.  Do you know how long it takes to install a battery?”  I told him that I do in-fact know how long it takes because I installed the VW battery 4 years ago myself, taking only about 15 minutes. His “I could care less” and aggressive tone of voice ticked me off, so I told him I would be right over to collect my car. 

When I arrived, he insulted me further by saying that the car had not been well maintained and, in an attempt to up-sell someone who was not going to fall for his BS in any event, that I needed to replace the timing belt.  I told him that the timing belt had been replaced less than 70,000 miles ago and that the VW had been well maintained, changing the oil every 5,000 miles even though recommendations are to change diesel oil every 10,000 miles and making all RECOMMENDED and NECESSARY repairs (from our honest mechanic).

He then handed me a bill for $75:


As you can see from the invoice, he not only overcharged me for the labor involved with the estimate, HE CHARGED ME $9.99 FOR SUPPLIES?  What supplies could he have possibly used to test my charging system?

Having spent my Air Force career as a transportation officer and responsible for hundreds of auto mechanics (and the Best Transportation Squadron in the United States Air Force), I know how repair costs are calculated, so I asked Dave how much his hourly rate was. He said, “I work by the job, not by the hour”, so I knew he was not on the up-and-up. In comparison, here is a quote from AutoMD.com for the exact repair on my vehicle and as you can see, it is MUCH closer to my estimate than his:



Quote Number # 636221

2000 Volkswagen Beetle GLS 4 Cyl 1.9L

    Parts Selected
    CARQUEST

    Jobs* Warranty Qty/Hrs Cost Total
    Battery Replacement
    Parts CARQUEST Battery (New) 2 yr / 24k mi 1 $136.05 $136.05
    Labor 2 yr / 24k mi 0.60 hrs $80.00 $48.00
    $184.05
    Other Fees
    Shop Supplies $1.84 $1.84
    $1.84
    Quote Summary
    Parts 1 $136.05 $136.05
    Labor 0.6 hrs $48.00 $48.00
    Other Fees 1 $1.84 $1.84
    Total $185.89

    He was trying to charge me over $140 in labor for a job that takes 6/10 of an hour, ATTEMPTING to charge me over $250 an hour for labor when the average is $65 to $70 an hour elsewhere … CAN YOU SAY “RIP-OFF” … SURE YOU CAN!


    I took my car to Walmart (invoice below) a few days later. They tested my charging system FOR FREE, CHARGED ME ONLY $109.97 FOR THE BATTERY, and INSTALLED IT IN ABOUT 20 MINUTES FOR FREE … for a total of only $124 and change! Adding in the $75 Dave charged me for doing practically nothing and the grand total came to $200, SO I STILL PAID $80 LESS THAN DAVE WAS GOING TO CHARGE ME even though I should have paid over $150 less if I had been dealing with an honest person.


    Mechanics are notorious for taking advantage of uneducated customers as we have all seen on shows like 20/20 and 60 Minutes, but there are good, honest people out there as our last mechanic proved over the last five years. I assumed, and you know what happens when you “ASSUME” … YOU MAKE AN “ASS” OF “U” AND “ME”, that Dave would be fair and honest, knowing very well that this was the first time I had been there and possibly trying to “do the right thing” by a new customer. In my opinion, Dave obviously has no idea what the “right thing” is or what “integrity” entails, so if you have more money than you know what to do with and do not care how much a service costs, by all means go to Das Autohaus! I did not realize how good I had it with our last mechanic, but maybe it is worth the 40 minute drive not to find out how many crook mechanics there are in Lawrence, Kansas!

    CombatCritic Gives Das Autohaus 1 Out of 10 Bombs … Bombs Are Good!












    UPDATE: Since this debacle, several people (friends and strangers alike) have come forward with stories of their own about Dave and Das Autohaus. It seems as though he has an unsavory reputation in Lawrence, a reputation I wish I had been aware of prior to trusting him with my car. So I am sharing my story and opinion with you in the hope that I can spare some of my neighbors from a similar experience. Take heed and pass the word along so that others will not be victimized by this unscrupulous business owner.

    Key Words: das, autohaus, mechanic, car, auto, automobile, Volkswagen, VW, battery, repair, cost, con, pro, rude, Lawrence, Kansas, InstitutionalTerrorism, institutional, terrorism

    This review is based solely on my opinion and what I believe to be true based on my direct experience with the service(s) in question. Readers should take these facts into consideration when deciding to utilize a service (or not) and that my opinion may or may not reflect the true nature and/or character of the individuals and/or institutions being reviewed.

    Let Me Summit Up … Do Not Let Appearances Fool You!


    Let Me Summit Up … Do Not Let Appearances Fool You!
    The Summit Downtown (Fitness Center)
    901 New Hampshire
    Lawrence, KS 66044
    Phone: 785-856-7979

    Hours: Mon-Thur: 5am – 11pm; Fri: 5am – 9pm; Sat: 7am – 7pm; Sun: 9am – 7pm

    A severely disabled Veteran and retired (2005) Air Force lieutenant colonel, I try to take care of the body I am left with after 20 years of austere environments and over 4 years in combat zones (Operations JOINT ENDEAVOR, ALLIED FORCE, SOUTHERN WATCH, AND ENDURING FREEDOM.  I cannot do as much as I used to or as I would like, but the gym is one of the few places I can relax and, beside the golf course, a safe haven where I can cope with the stresses of life. I spent most days of my 20-year career in military gyms and have been a YMCA member for over 10 years, but when we moved to Lawrence, Kansas in August of this year, I was disappointed to find that there was no YMCA in Lawrence. A town of 90,000 and no YMCA?


    I bought a Groupon for a 6-week trial at Genesis Fitness for $20, expecting to join if I liked the facility. I did not. The facility was filthy, the sauna never worked, and when I spoke to a manager about joining, he insisted I must pay a $75 “joining fee” and sign a contract for 2-3 years if I wanted their best monthly rate. Hard-sell gym tactics, contracts, and application fees went out with the 20thCentury, or so I thought, so I told the man that I would take my business elsewhere. He could have obviously cared less.

    I decided to try The Summit, a modern facility in a relatively new building just five blocks from our new Lawrence home (it is actually over 150 years old and a historic home) due to its proximity and a four-month “Fall” special for $150. Not a fantastic bargain ($37.50 per month – I paid less at the Kansas City YMCA which is much nicer, larger, and with many more fitness options). The facility seemed clean and the staff appeared to be friendly and helpful, or so it seemed, so I signed-up for the special (with no initiation fee) with the understanding that I would pay $41.00 per month if I decide to continue.

    I liked the facility for the most part, documenting my experiences along the way on Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter. Here are a few:

    The Summit 10/16/2013
    “The bench in the men’s locker room is wonky and the TV on the first machine didn’t work, but it’s cleaner than Genesis by a mile!”

    The Summit 10/19/2013
    “The only concerns thus far are the saunas, which never seem to be hot enough, and the fans (the kind with blades), which always seem to be on, even on the coldest days. Yesterday was cold (45 degrees) and it was cold inside, but they still had the fans going full blast. When I asked if they could be turned down/off, the young lady behind the counter said “no”. Being one of just three customers at the time, I do not think it was an unreasonable request.”

    The Summit 10/24/2013
    “I like the proximity and cleanliness, but the fans, sauna, and locker room benches leave MUCH TO BE DESIRED”

    The Summit 10/28/2013
    “I spoke to quickly in yesterday’s check-in. Fans are going full blast today and it’s freezing in here. Yesterday must have been a fluke … They aren’t monitoring social media after all and that’s going to cost them that 4th star!”

    The Summit 10/31/2013
    “Can’t tell if it’s chance coincidence or if staff read my comments…today the fans are off and there’s a real bench in the locker room…THANKS!”

    Having studied diet and exercise extensively over the years for my own benefit and that of my clients (I am a licensed professional counselor specializing in mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy – CBT), I understand the importance of a combination of aerobic activity (running, elliptical, etc.), resistance training (weightlifting), and flexibility (stretching).  I normally use the elliptical machines because they are easy on my knees and back, stretching and meditating afterward to complete my workout.

    I had been stretching and meditating most days at The Summit because they had a wonderful thick red mat that was comfortable enough to meet my needs. Because of my disabilities, I find it painful and difficult to use the “Aeromats” (small, individual foam mats) most gyms provide for stretching because they do not provide enough padding, causing discomfort while I lay or sit on the ground.

    When I went to stretch the other day, I noticed that the red mat was gone and replaced with mats similar to the Aeromats I dislike so much, so I asked Tanner (an employee) why my favorite mat was removed. He was very kind and helpful, explaining that the mat was worn on the bottom and had been taken away. He explained just yesterday that there was a similar red mat to the one I had been using in the “training” area of the facility and told me that his boss had said that I could use it to stretch if I chose to. I thanked him for his concern and kindness and went about my workout.

    After completing my elliptical workout, I noticed that the training area was nearly empty and the red mat was not being used, so I entered to finish my workout with a good stretch and a few minutes of relaxation. As I moved to the mat to sit-down, I noticed one of the trainers (there were more trainers than “trainees”), a blondish 30-something woman with several tattoos on one of her arms, hovering around the area, stalking me like a security guard on a shoplifter. No sooner did I sit-down did she approach me stating, “Who are you working with today”.  I told her “nobody” and she told me that I was “not allowed in the area, it’s for personal training customers only”.  I told her that the owner had said that I could use the area to stretch, as Tanner had told me just a couple hours before, noticing one of the owners standing behind her like a back-up cop waiting to pounce on a criminal. She said, “Oh, you mean him” and I stated I did not know who, but that Tanner had told me just hours before that I had permission. Before I get the words out of my mouth, both she and the co-owner said “this area is for paying personal training customers only” (well excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me!) and at that I got up and left the area as ordered!

    I believe in treating all with dignity and respect and as a business owner myself, particularly customers.  The Summit apparently does not hold the same values.  I found it extremely embarrassing to be stalked and thrown out of a facility I pay $40 per month to use and in such an unprofessional manner.  I have suffered many indignities at the hands of rude, self-centered people over the years, but never have I experienced such rude, unprofessional, and humiliating behavior in a place of business as I did at The Summit last night.

    Now I feel anxious and stressed just thinking about returning to The Summit this afternoon, not knowing how I will be treated.  I am considering asking for a refund of my remaining fees, but there are few fitness options in this college town of nearly 100,000 other than Genesis, The Summit, and the University of Kansas (KU – where I can use their “world-class” facilities for just $20 per month), so I think I will wait until my trial period expires to find a suitable alternative. 

    My disabilities, including a great deal of pain, and mood are eased by exercise and a clean, safe facility is very important to me.  Except for the filthy air intakes (see photo), The Summit is very clean, but I DO NOT FEEL SAFE any longer.  It pains me that one of my respites, a safe haven in which I can de-stress and take care of a body ravaged by time and combat, the gym, is now a place that causes me stress.

    Veterans Day is next Monday, a day on which we show our appreciation for the men and women who have served our great nation.  Instead of feeling appreciated, I feel abused, but then this is not the first time I have been made to feel less than welcome in a public setting in recent years and, I am afraid, it will not be the last … unfortunately.  If you like being treated with INDIGNITY and DISRESPECT, YOU WILL LOVE THE WAY THEY TREAT YOU AT THE SUMMIT IN DOWNTOWN LAWRENCE!

    CombatCritic Gives THE SUMMIT 3 BOMBS OUT OF 10 … Bombs Are Good!








    Key Words: The Summit, SummitDowntown, fitness, center, gym, gymnasium, workout, exercise, elliptical, trainer, dignity, respect, combat critic.CombatCritic, TravelValue, Lawrence, Journal-World, Kansas