On Tuesday, I needed to drive my car on a dirt road, except that it wasn't just a dirt road; it was rocky.

My car is a non-off-road version of the Toyota Camry, so it struggled a bit, and I dinged the undercarriage a couple of times. The end result was that it would not start after I got home from work.

It managed to start the next morning, and I drove it to an auto repair shop in Lehi, Utah called BOSS Automotive.

The man that appeared to be the owner of the shop ran diagnostics on my car, with my help, and showed me the report that said the battery was bad. So far, so good, although he did not listen to me when I told him that it was the starter. And I trusted him.

We went back into the lobby, so I could pay. He told me that I would be charged $89.95 for diagnostics, but if I would give them a good review on Google and Yelp about how fast the diagnostics process was, they would waive that charge. I refused, for two reasons:

  1. I don't have an account on Yelp, and I don't want one.
  2. I do not feel comfortable being paid for a good review.

So I paid the $89.95.

The shop owner seemed quite surprised. It was almost as if every person he had offered that option to had taken the deal and that I was the first who hadn't!

So that was weird.

And then I noticed the signs:

Starting Sept 17, there will be an $89.95 charge for diagnostics up to 30 min.

I am not entirely stupid, and I put 2 and 2 together: they decided to start charging customers in order to blackmail them into giving them good reviews!

(Note: This is what I am assuming happened; this is my opinion because that's what it felt like. Only BOSS Automotive knows for sure why the charge was put in place.)

Now, I had originally chosen BOSS Automotive because they had a lot (hundreds) of 5-star reviews on Google. It is possible that most of those 5-star reviews are paid for!

Well, I paid, got the battery replaced, and went to work. Later that day, my wife and I went to a restaurant, and when we got back into the car, it would not start. Again!

We ended needing to get the car towed, to another shop of course, and when that shop ran their diagnostics, which they did not charge me for, they found that the problem was the starter, just as I had suspected.

So not only did BOSS Automotive blackmail me for $89.95, the diagnostics they performed for that fee were wrong!

On the bright side, the tow truck driver and the second shop (Powell's Automotive) were professional, courteous, and helpful. And our car is fixed.