How This Shop Stops Auto Repair Shop Frauds With Its SMS

You’ve heard about auto repair shop frauds where people feel ripped off by a shop. But what about when the tables turn and auto repair scams hurt the people running auto repair shops?

One of our customers recently turned the tables on a potential scammer by using the features of his auto repair software.

Alex Avilés owns and operates Dealer Service Alternative in Orlando, Florida, specializing in Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Smart Car, Audi, and Volkswagen. He and his staff also perform services and repairs on domestic and import vehicles.

After a scam attempt last month, he has his money back and shares his experience to protect other shops.

Auto repair shop frauds can begin when a customer hands over their keys.

Researching auto repair shop frauds

“The encounter began with a man booking an appointment to have the battery replaced in his mother’s car. When she dropped the car off the next day, a new service advisor dropped their guard for a moment. This person agreed to let the customer enter her credit card number into the POS terminal.

Two days later, Alex received an email from his bank, saying he had a $350 charge back for the repair. He also learned he had no recourse since his staff had let her type in the number.

Alex wasn’t ready to give in to this fraudster this easily. He typed “credit card fraud” into Google’s search engine and found a new way to resolve his problem.

How to short circuit auto repair scams

Alex learned that if a customer authorizes a purchase then doesn’t pay up, that constitutes auto repair shop fraud. With this new insight, he felt he had the law on his side.

He called the sheriff’s office and a deputy came in to look at the digital files within Shop-Ware’s automotive shop software. First, Alex had his Shop-Ware files to back up his claims that the client had approved the work and was willing to pay for it.

Second, the customer used a credit card in the 360 Payments terminal. As a result, the automotive repair software captured her signature and saved it to the repair order. This payment process integrates right into Shop-Ware’s auto shop software.

Prevent auto repair scams with customer signature captures

He also watched a video of the customer at the terminal, making the payment that was later withdrawn. Alex also had records of calls from her son, saying they had paid.

“This was a fraud case, not a customer dispute regarding the services provided,” Alex says. “This is like using a stolen credit card.”

All along, Alex’s staff had tried calling the customer, but she wouldn’t answer her phone. The deputy used another phone line and got the customer’s son on the line. At first, he said his mother had stolen his credit card, until he found out she could be charged. Then the son changed his story to call the mistyped numbers a “mistake.”

“I was impressed,” Alex says of how the police approached the suspects. “The deputy says he sees it all the time.”

When the shop owner sent the deputy’s notes to the credit card company on Aug. 29, it reversed the charge.

Protection from auto repair shop frauds

Alex notes that having documented the transaction made a big difference. After all, this isn’t the first time a customer has tried to dodge paying for auto repairs.

He runs into this situation about four times a year, including an attempt to dodge a $5,000 invoice.

Prevent auto repair scams by documenting repairs

Earlier in August 2022, a customer declined to pay for a replacement part of her wheel, saying she didn’t need a new one. However, the tech had taken and sent photos before she approved the work.

“We told her, ‘We have proof.’ That offers us a lot of protection,” Alex says of that feature of Shop-Ware.

As extra protection, he has added Facepay and only allows this remote payment method for a customer’s first two visits. Shops use Facepay to accept payments directly from their customers as easily as cash but through an easy-to-use platform.

It also integrates right into Shop-Ware’s automotive repair software, just like 36 other partners – more than any other shop management system.

Looking back, Alex never thought of getting law enforcement officials involved in previous auto repair fraud cases. He is certainly glad he did this time.

“Don’t give up easily,” he advises other shop owners. “Try your local police department if your merchant services provider can’t help. It’s worth it, especially for a $5,000 repair.”

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