I will NOT be hoodwinked!

Last November my daughter inherited my 2002 Saturn. Though she’s a college student, she still needs to travel for job, shopping and the like.

This car, with 145,000 miles on it, sometimes shows its age. So before handing over the keys, I spent $1,200 having everything tightened, greased or replaced.

Then came a chronic engine warning light. My daughter reported: “The car’s died, but I found a mechanic here with great YELP reviews. He says I need a new engine.”

The idea of sinking $3,100 more into a 16-year old car soured my mood. Having the recommendation come from a stranger didn’t help.

Like most people, I do business with those I know, like, and trust. This led me to have the car towed from Placentia to Five Star Automotive in Poway.

I’ve worked with these guys for 11 years, and believe them to be honest, fairly-priced, and trustworthy. I listen carefully, whether they say to do the work or to shoot the beast.

Next morning the verdict arrived: the problem could be solved for $100.

Now the questions swirled: were the guys at Five Star miracle workers? Was the Placentia garage incompetent?

Could it be they took advantage of my daughter’s youth and inexperience? Or perhaps their YELP reviews were misleading?

I typically like YELP, and use it regularly when seeking a restaurant or other services in an unfamiliar place.

But YELP’s sales team is reputed to be overly-aggressive, to the point where companies preferring a free listing over one costing $700/month report good reviews hidden and bad reviews made more prominent.

Is that even legal?

Assuming the rumors are true, could it be a company gets bad reviews buried by paying a fee?

Or perhaps the Placentia garage was gaming the system, having friends and relatives write glowing reviews where none were warranted.

At this moment I’m reminded of the Latin saying “Caveat Emptor”: Let The Buyer Beware. From a marketing perspective, do your research and know what you’re buying before you buy it.

Happily, my old Saturn’s again safe to drive, with repairs made for a fraction of the original estimated cost.

I’ve also put a negative review on the Placentia garage’s YELP profile. It’ll be interesting to see how long it stays up.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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