Every once in a while we actually go off-line and leave the house. And when we go it's usually in a car... or truck or van or motorcycle ... you get the point. The fact is that our vehicles are going to break down some day. When that day comes FOR YOU, here's how to come out the winner in the great car repair ripoff game. There are honest and dependable car repair shops in the land. Equally true, however, is that the Federal Trade Commission has stated that there have been over $40,000,000,000 in unnecessary car repair ripoffs. You read that number right, it's 40 BILLION dollars. And they want you next. DO IT YOURSELF IS OVER In 1980 the car companies started putting computers in car engines to make them more fuel efficient and satisfy the demands of the public for more features. A side effect of this move has been that cars are now so computerized that even if you wanted to do it yourself in many cases you can't. WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT While space won't allow me to list all you can do here, the following BASICS will get you well on your way. Absorb the following information for your online business, too. Remember, although I'm specifically talking about the necessities of avoiding car rip-offs, ensure that you take the following procedures to heart when doing business online. As a result, you can truly find the professionals. ASK QUESTIONS We often approach the car repair shop like we do a brain doctor. Since they will be doing things we don't have expertise in, we ask very few questions. YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER. You have a right to a simple explanation. Or a technical one if you are so inclined. If they can't or won't explain the work to your satisfaction, look elsewhere. GET A REFERRAL Have you ever noticed that very FEW car repair shops offer you a list of satisfied customers? It's very important to ask around BEFORE they have your car in their possession. You can call the Better Business Bureau or the local Chamber of Commerce. In most cases they will know who to avoid. If you are at home call your friends and ask them who they use or who NOT to use. Remember, information is power. WHERE'S THE BEEF? Here's a tip that almost all car repair customers miss. Make them SHOW you the parts they replaced. Unless you can see the old, broken or worn parts you will never know if they needed replacing. Protect yourself with this technique and you will avoid the most common ripoff of all; saying parts have been replaced when they simply have not. By following the advice above you will leave the house with a sense of confidence that if something DOES go wrong, you know what to do. And that is the ultimate weapon to protect yourself against any scam.... Whether it be to your car, or for your online business!