It is important to know about the difference between Repair Invoices and Repair Orders (ROs) and the service process generally. Dishonest dealers often try to get away with only disclosing Repair Invoices, because they have been sanitized and are missing much available information. This is just one of the ways dealers try to hide Dealer Fraud.
Dishonest dealer try the same con not only on consumers, but on Judges too. I had to spend a morning in Court recently to obtain a Court Order compelling a dealership to produce all inspection and service records. The Dealer attorney claimed that the dealer had produced all of the records, but they had only produced the invoices.
I explained to the judge that the service process is the same the world over. First, a Service Writer prepares a Repair Order (normally called an “RO”). The RO either contains a customer complaint, for instance, hard start or rough idle or funny noise coming from front end, which should be investigated and repaired.
Or the RO instructs the technician (mechanic) to perform a particular task, such as a pre-sale inspection or rotate the tires, etc.
As the technician investigates the problem or performs the task, he/she takes notes on the RO regarding what he observes and what needs to be done. There is a pre-printed area on the back of the RO for the tech to take notes.
At the completion of the work, the tech returns the RO to the Service Writer. Then a Repair Invoice is produced reflecting the work performed and the charges and payment.
Importantly, where a pre-sale inspection is concerned, the Service Manager and Used Car Manager will decide what work will be done, and how it will be billed. Often it is billed to the Used Car Department, but, if a factory warranty may apply, or there is an open recall, the manufacturer may be billed for some things.
Dealers don’t want consumers or jurors to see these notes. They often claim they do not exist. They often claim that they have been lost or destroyed as part of a regularly scheduled document destruction.
The law requires that they be retained for years. That is the standard in the industry as well. Just like doctors retain records so that they can better treat patients the next time, so do repair shops.
If you think you have been the victim of Dealer Fraud or any other wrongdoing, you should consult a qualified attorney right away.