Settling the Score When Nickel and Dimed for Auto Repair

Ever heard of getting nickel and dimed for auto repairs? Basically, the expression just means that you’re getting the screws put to you when it comes to paying for necessary automotive maintenance or repairs. We all know that automotive upkeep can be costly, but it shouldn’t be excessive, and certainly not unfounded by the mechanic handing you the bill. So, while most of us have likely experienced this frustrating financial transaction, few of us have ever actually done anything about it.

Well, someone just did and that someone is Carolina Panthers’ fullback, Mike Tolbert. When he found himself nickel and dimed by his local auto body shop, he paid the price. In nickels and dimes. That’s right, the full and unsubstantiated bill, totaling $3,900, was settled in spare change. Heaping amounts of it…

So, what exactly happened here?

Evidently, according to the instantly-accessed and ever-reliable social media outlets, last week, Tolbert dropped off his 1975 Chevy Caprice convertible to Motion Lab Tuning, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, for an engine overhaul. Basically, he wanted to swap out engines, replacing the old one with a new one that he had already purchased and provided to the shop. Estimates for the job apparently topped out at $2,700.

But, as many of us have experienced before, when Tolbert returned to pick up his newly renovated Caprice, the price for the repair had jacked up considerably…and without explanation. Faced with auto repairs totaling $3,900, the fullback demanded, “Where’d that come from?” To which he was answered with unclear “work for this, this and this,” responses, despite the fact that work had not actually been completed, and the car was not ready.

“So,” according to Tolbert, “we had an argument about that. I tried to pay them with a check. They said we’re not going to take your check because we’re not sure it’s going to clear the bank. I’m like, ‘OK, if that’s what you feel.’”

Insisting on either cash or a cashier’s check, imagine the shop owner’s surprise when Tolbert did return, cash…or, um, coins, in hand. Although the shop owner, Todd Marcellini, was not prepared to accept payment in pounds of coins, Tolbert refused to leave and the law was on his side.

“They didn’t want to take it. The police officer made them take it. I got my car out of there and I’m shipping it somewhere else to get it fixed. It’s not even done,” Tolbert said.

According to Marcellini, the added cost resulted from the purchase of parts, which Tolbert’s friend had agreed to supply but, evidently, never did. “The whole thing’s silly, really.” While Marcellini, who has owned the shop since 2009, maintains that he and his employees did nothing wrong, he does fear that Tolbert’s celebrity status might negatively impact his business.

As for Tolbert, he isn’t worried about how the public will view his compensation in coins. In fact, he’s taking a seemingly lighthearted approach to the entire incident, claiming, “They wanted to get rude and disrespectful. And I handled it the funniest and simplest way I could. I paid them what they asked for. How else can you defend it?”

That’s one way to flip the script on getting nickel and dimed for auto repair…

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