Car Mechanic's Faulty Work
QUESTION 44: CAR MECHANIC'S FAULTY WORK
The side car door on my van didn't close properly.
I went to a mechanic, and he said he'd fix it, that
it needs a new latch. The latch cost $78, and the
labor is $70. I paid with a post-dated check. When
I got the car back, the car door was still broken,
perhaps a little worse than before. I went back, and
he and his men worked on it for an hour and a half.
It closed well. He admitted that this is really
bodywork, which is not his specialty. Two days
later, the car door doesn't close well anymore,
and even flies open when traveling. The check
hasn't been cashed yet. His assistant said the
owner isn't in today, and that they gave the check
to someone else. The check is dated tomorrow. His
assistant says to make sure that the check goes
through, and that the owner will be reasonable. What
should I do? Should I stop the check and then
negotiate with him, or let the check go through
and then negotiate with him. What do I owe him?
I want to tell you something. This isn't a question
of a halacha (Jewish Law). You could stop the check.
The job isn't done and you're not obligated to pay
him until the job is done. Of course you could
stop the check; there's nothing to talk about.
However, should you stop the check? I don't think
so. If you stop the check there's a charge of $15,
at least. Some banks will charge more. Number two,
it will create a certain sense of ill will. You'll
end up with nothing.
If it's someone you know, the fellow probably feels
a responsibility. He took all that money from you,
and he'll help you out. But if you'll just fight it,
you'll make an enemy of him for a relatively small
amount of money. He's worked on it for an hour and
That's the second time he tried to fix it. The first
time he probably worked on it another hour and a half.
So he worked a couple of hours trying to fix it.
You can't just stop the check ...
So you say that's not a halachic issue. So what
category does this fall under?
There's a certain way of dealing with people that
creates trust. People who trust and deal with others
with respect sometimes fall and sometimes get cheated.
But more often than not, they come out ahead. On the
other hand, people who do not trust, people who are
always suspicious and even hostile, people who are
always fighting for their own position -- in the short
run these people make a couple of dollars, but in the
long run such an attitude is self-defeating.
Here's a person who's working and working for three
hours, he's basically an honest fellow. He thought
that this job was within his ability, and it turned
out it's not. A body-shop man would probably be able
to do it much quicker.
So it's like derech eretz kodmoh laTorah (acting
decently comes before the Torah)?
Yes. You can't fight with him. He didn't do anything
dishonest or improper so that you should make an act of
war to withhold the check. When the check goes through,
he'll probably feel obligated to come to a compromise
with you. And if not, that's the chance you should take.
NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION 45: GOING TO ANOTHER HOTEL'S ENTERTAINMENT
I went to a hotel for Yom Tov (holiday) with my family.
During Chol Hamoed (the middle days of the holiday,
where some work is permitted), another family heard
that another hotel is having a performer for kids in
the afternoon. They called the hotel to find out if
they can come, and the hotel told that that it isn't
a problem. If I want to come, am I also obligated to
call the hotel, or may I regard the 'no problem' reply
to include my family also?
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