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Questionable Marketing Practices: Just Brakes in Orlando, Florida

April 8th, 2009

just-brakes-questionable-marketing.jpgToday’s article by G. Keith Evans (username Aerosly) is another example of a customer complaint, this time regarding the alleged questionable marketing practices of an automotive repair shop called Just Brakes which is located in the Orlando, Florida area. Just Brakes is accused of ripping off customers with the classic “bait and switch” technique, a deceptive type of upsell in which the seller lures the potential customer with a relatively low price, then pressures him or her into purchasing additional products or services that were not part of the original offer.

Scummy Marketing Practices: Just Brakes

The radio advertisements sound simple and straightforward enough: at Just Brakes, disk pads and brake shoes can be fitted to almost any car or light truck for under a hundred dollars. “Why do you do it, Just Brakes?” asks a female voice on the radio; the response is the brake service giant’s catchy jingle, “Because at Just Brakes, we really do care.”

Just Brakes really does care. About what, though, is somewhat in question. Internet reports of bait-and-switch tactics, faulty service, and outright ripoffs abound, and nary a customer can be found who has actually received the advertised pricing. Plenty of customers, however, can be found who have had a less-than-desirable experience with the scummy marketing practices of Just Brakes.

An Internet user from Saint Petersburg, Florida, who goes by the online name of Jacob, reports on one popular website that Just Brakes gave him an intricate and frustrating run-around. “First my front brakes were the problem,” he said, “then it was my back brakes that caused my front brakes not to work.” After considerable negotiation with the service manager, Jacob was offered a $400 repair job on the front brakes alone. “I told them just to fix the entire thing for $740 out of frustration,” Jacob reports. Thanks to the scummy marketing practices of Just Brakes, a $99 brake job quickly escalated to over $700.

Jacob, of course, is not alone. Tim Schroeder of Orlando, Florida reports that a service manager at the East Orlando Just Brakes location informed him that a full brake service on Schroeder’s 2004 Ford Expedition would cost $99.88, minus ten dollars for using a published coupon. Less than an hour after dropping off his vehicle, Schroeder reports, he received a call from Just Brakes. “He said that the brake system was ‘contaminated’”, he posted in his online blog, “and that the entire brake system would need to be replaced at a cost of around $3,000!”

Suspecting questionable marketing practices, Schroeder sought a second opinion. “I then drive on over to Action Gator and Tire,” he went on to say, “There was absolutely nothing wrong with my brake system. The brake pads didn’t even need to be replaced!”

According to West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, this questionable practice is a classic example of bait-and-switch marketing. Bait-and-switch, according to the WEAL, is defined as “a sales tactic in which a bargain-priced item is used to attract customers who are then encouraged to purchase a more expensive similar item.” Certainly, Jacob and Tim Schroeder would agree that they were victims of this scummy marketing practice.

Sadly, however, there is little that one can do to fight this particular type of deceptive upsell other than refusing to buy into the deal from the beginning. Proving that the infraction took place is difficult enough, and proving that a recommended brake job is not, in fact, necessary requires the skill of a qualified expert. Perhaps that’s why the bait-and-switch tactic is widely considered “one of the oldest in the book.” Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to remain in the playbook at Just Brakes, as new reports of victimized customers continue to appear almost daily.

2 Responses to “Questionable Marketing Practices: Just Brakes in Orlando, Florida”

  1. comment number 1 by: Kelly Moorman

    Exactly the same situation happened to me on March 14 at the location on East Hwy 50 in Orlando. I encourage anyone with this type of issue to report it to the Florida Department of Consumer Affairs, at http://www.800helpfla.com/complnt.html

  2. comment number 2 by: James W

    Exact thing happened to me twice at the same Atlanta GA location (North Druid Hills Rd. ). The first time they quoted me over $900 so I told them not to touch it and I would be there to pick it up shortly. They replied with “well we aleady did the $99 service”. I told them great and picked it up and drove it for another 2 years with no issues until I needed the basic service again. I went back to the same location and once again was given a quote of over $900. I told them no and after a little hardball once again got the $99 special and have had no problems since. Long story short the $99 is actually a great deal for what you get; you just have to be willing to walk away from it to get it.

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