Herb Chambers Honda of Boston tries to charge me $942 for an $118 repair

By | September 22, 2013

September 22, 2013

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Honda Automobile Customer Service
1919 Torrance Boulevard
Mail Stop: 500 – 2N – 7A
Torrance, CA 90501-2746

Attention: [name elided] at 800-999-1009 ext. [extension elided]

This is a followup to the attached letter which I sent you on August 2, 2013, about which we subsequently spoke by phone.

To summarize my previous letter, the back-lighting for the A/C controller for my 2007 Honda Odyssey (VIN [elided]) had not worked since the vehicle was new. I asked you to cover the cost of fixing the problem, even though my Odyssey is out of warranty, since the problem was present from when the vehicle was new.

On the phone, you told me to bring the Odyssey to a dealership and get an estimate, and then we could discuss further whether Honda might be able to cover part of the cost of the repair.

I had Herb Chambers Honda of Boston (1186 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02134) look at the problem while I was also dealing with a dead battery there. They gave me an estimate (see attached) of $942 plus tax to replace the entire A/C switch panel. This, frankly, is patently absurd, so I went home and did some more research on my own.

I was able to buy a quality, warrantied, used A/C controller on eBay for only $74.99. I was able to install the new controller myself in a half hour. Assuming a 100% markup on the cost of the replacement part and an hour of labor at $60 per hour, Herb Chambers should have been able to do the repair for $209.98, over $700 less than the estimate they tried to gouge me with.

But it’s even worse than that. I subsequently learned that I probably didn’t need a new controller at all. Rather, it’s a known problem that these bulbs burn out, and they are easily replaceable. After learning that, I bought six OEM replacement bulbs for $28.88, replaced the old bulbs in my original A/C controller with the new ones, confirmed that the old ones were burnt out, and reinstalled the original A/C controller, which is now working perfectly. In other words, I didn’t even need to spend $74.99 for a replacement controller; all I needed was $28.88 worth of new bulbs and about 15 minutes to install them. Again assuming a 100% markup on the parts and an hour of labor, Herb Chambers should have been able to fix my problem for $117.76, which makes their $942 estimate even more outrageous and ludicrous.

I am writing to you now for two reasons:

  1. I would like to register a formal complaint about the fact that Herb Chambers Honda tried to charge me more than $942 for a repair which reasonably shouldn’t have cost more than $118, an act which represents at least major incompetence and at most fraud (knowingly trying to sell me a replacement part I didn’t need).
  2. I would like Honda to reimburse me for the $28.88 I spent on the bulbs to replace the ones which were burned out from the first day I owned my Odyssey, plus $19.61 for the Haynes repair manual I had to buy to find out how to do the repair myself. I have attached receipts for both of these purchases. (I am in the process of trying to return the replacement A/C controller which I don’t actually need, but I do not expect you to reimburse me for it because it was not actually needed for the repair.)

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please note that I strongly prefer a written response (via email, fax, or U.S. mail) rather than a telephone call.


Jonathan Kamens

Encl: August 2, 2013 letter to American Honda Motor Co.
September 3, 2013 invoice and estimate from Herb Chambers Honda
September 9, 2013 invoice from Amazon for Haynes Repair Manual
September 13, 2013 invoice from HondaPartsNow.com for replacement bulbs
CC: Kenneth Giordano, General Manager
Herb Chambers Honda of Boston
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One thought on “Herb Chambers Honda of Boston tries to charge me $942 for an $118 repair

  1. Adam

    That’s why they are called stealerships! 🙂

    Search for a good independent shop in the Boston area as I’m sure there are lots.


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