I have a co-worker who does car maintenance on the side. After getting a positive recommendation from other co-workers, I hired him to repair the A/C on my vehicle.

He screwed up in two ways.

  1. He didn't replace some optional items that he said he would. There were a couple of things not essential to the repair that I wanted to go ahead and have replaced while he had the whole thing apart. He said he would but I found out afterward he didn't.
  2. He didn't fix it right. Vehicle has separate front and back controls. If only the front is on, it doesn't get cold. If front and back are both on, it works fine.

So, now I am in a predicament. Do I bring this up and potentially cause issues at work? Or do I let it go and chalk it up as a lesson learned about mixing work and side-work?

It was discussed ahead of time when we were discussing the work to be done and the cost. I purchased all the parts, including those, based on our agreement.

Also, we work for the same company, but not in the same department.

  • 9
    Apparently I don't have enough rep to provide an answer, however, I very much disagree with the "top" answer here. There's no reason you can't bring this up to him. Put it in his court; make him make the call if he wants to assist you or not. You'd be surprised at the power of obligation. Only bring your car to the mechanic after your co-worker has "fixed" the issue, just to verify whether his fixes are legit. If you don't at least bring this up to him, it's on you. Your co-worker might even think he did a good job, and may even ask you for a recommendation. Who knows? Just be upfront. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 15:11
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    @contactmatt Thanks for your input. I think my issue is that, on some level, I feel scammed and I'm not sure how diplomatic I could be about it. It would be great if he just said "Let me take a look" but, as of right now, the benefits of that conversation going right are outweighed be the negatives of it going wrong. As for your not being able to answer, it's only because the question is protected.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 15:21
  • I hear ya. One thing I've learned is that it's okay to make people feel uncomfortable. I don't see harm in just mentioning what happened, and if he can take a look at it. The worst thing that happens is he tells you to go to hell; and guess what, at least you followed up with it. Depending on your personality, sweeping it under the rug may really bother you. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 15:55
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    Since you supplied parts, what happened for the parts that you supplied but then were not changed? Did he give them back (is that why you know some things were not done as agreed?
    – Carol
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 16:13
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    @Carol Yes. But I didn't realize right away. I ordered all the parts online. When he went to install the compressor, we realized they had shipped the wrong compressor, so I ran out late on a Saturday night to get the right compressor from a local store. When the job was done, he gave me back the wrong compressor in the box that the parts had shipped in. I just taped it up and shipped it back to the online place. I didn't find out until after it made it back and I got credited for it and all the other parts that he hadn't installed the other parts.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 16:19

4 Answers 4


Take your car to a professional mechanic, don't mention it to your co-worker, and never hire a co-worker again. Eat the cost for a lesson you won't soon forget.

It's not wise to do business with co-workers, relatives and friends precisely because things can go wrong. If you had hired a professional, you'd have no problem addressing these concerns.

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    I totally agree but personally - on top of the lesson - i wouldn't let anyone get away with thinking it was OK to screw me like that. I'd try and be as diplomatic as possible, but i would confront him about why he thought he could skip those things he promised he would change. Watch him carefully while he explains. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 9:08
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    I think "don't mention it to your co-worker" is poor advice. Classic unhealthy conflict avoidance. I would "eat the cost" rather than get into a significant dispute if it comes to that, but failing to mention it at all is just cowardly.
    – user45590
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 8:28
  • There could also be the situation that he just didn't realise he didn't fully fix it, and would happily look at what was wrong to 1) not come off as somebody who doesn't finish a job/do a job right, and 2) learn something new about his side-work
    – TMH
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 8:53
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    @dan1111 Avoidance is letting your fear guide your actions. This is discretion. You're choosing to not let a poor personal decision with a co-worker turn into a bad work situation. What if he gets offended and the conflict is out of your control? Now you have to go to management? Over a non-work issue? This is precisely why many companies won't hire couples, or let family members work in the same chain of command. Admit your mistake, accept the consequences, and move on.
    – jimm101
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 14:55
  • @jimm101 my comment was probably a bit too harsh. Choosing not to say anything can be good discretion in many cases. In this case, I just don't think it is the right choice, and it seems driven by outsized fear of the imagined consequences. If one brings up these issues in a measured way that does not assume bad faith, a reasonable person should not get so offended that it stops you being able to work together professionally. If that does happen, I would argue it is him causing a disruption at work not you.
    – user45590
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 15:17

Have you tried talking to him about your concerns? Go to him and say "I thought we had an agreement for you to replace X, Y, and Z, but you only replaced X. Did I misunderstand our agreement?" That's not confrontational; he has an easy out if he genuinely misunderstood or if there was a problem he didn't anticipate.

Same thing for your other problem. "After you did the repair, I noticed it works great if I turn on both the front and rear, but it doesn't work at all if I turn on just the front. Any idea what is wrong?" Worst case scenario, he claims ignorance and you both go about your lives. Best case scenario, it's a result of his mistake and he realizes it, or it's unrelated but he has an idea for a solution.

In summary, absolutely you can talk to him, so long as you approach him without blame or accusation. Assume his intentions were good, and you should have no problem. Don't assume he's out to screw you without even giving him a chance to address the issue.

  • Great answer. If you assume good faith this discussion need not be contentious.
    – user45590
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 8:29
  • 2
    If I was the co-worker, and messed up a fix and wasn't aware of the problem, I'd like it if somebody approached me like that, to 1) keep any relationships in place, and 2) it's a chance to learn something new!
    – TMH
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 10:07

You're on the right track. Chalk it up. But this isn't about mixing work with side-work.

I don't know what kind of work you and / or this acquaintance do. But I'll say that if he spends 40 hrs/wk in the accounting department, or 40 hrs/wk in the warehouse, or 40 hours/wk at the reception desk, generally he's not going to be as qualified, skilled, or knowledgeable (or possess all the necessary tools, lifting equipment, and safety equipment) as someone who's paid 40 hours/wk to be a mechanic. There are exceptions.

You didn't pay for a professional's time and experience, and you got the end result. With some people saving the money with a semi-pro is a higher priority, even if they have to keep sending the work back. If that's not an acceptable standard for you (and only you can decide that), then don't hire another shade-tree mechanic because you can't really hold such a person to the same standard as a pro.

  • 2
    @Kevin, so what do you plan to do if in a few months he brings some other co-worker to you and says, "Kevin, Bobby here is interested in having me fix up his car. Tell him how I fixed up yours and how great it works now."?
    – mikeazo
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 17:06
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    And - Pete - as a software developer, you should be very well aware of managers who equate their kid taking an HTML class to what a professional software developer has to do to implement a dynamic website. They really have no clue. It is not the same level of work.
    – Xavier J
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 20:26
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    "If he spends 40 hrs/wk in the accounting department [..] he's not going to be as [..] knowledgeable as someone who's paid 40 hours/wk to be a mechanic" - This is a fallacy which (unfortunately) often does not hold true. One of the worst developers I know has been a professional for 30 years, while I know some fantastic junior devs who never even finished college. Similarly, the best mechanic I've ever met spends nearly all his free time working on cars, but works professionally as a paint inspector ("because it pays better"). Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 21:08
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft It's not a "fallacy", it's a "generality". Maybe it isn't true in absolutely every single case, but showing a few exceptions doesn't mean it's not true in general.
    – user38070
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 11:52
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft - yes of course professionals can be bad. Just like you I've met some awful developers who have been doing it for a long time. And likewise there are plenty of dodgy mechanics out there (so many that it's a cliché). But the point here is that if a professional does a bad job, it's a lot easier to deal with the issue. If the OP had gone to a pro mechanic and had the same issues, he wouldn't have needed to ask here; he could just have dealt with it by demanding a refund or compensation, to have it fixed and/or suing them if necessary.
    – Simba
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 12:38

No, you don't bring it up at work at all - it's not work's problem that you assumed somebody could do this based on prettymuch a rumor.

What you should've done was check out his work on a vehicle that wasn't at his work. It can only be your fault that you decided that the job was complete, finalized, and that each step of the way of the process was not apparently communicated.

This is still a dual communication problem. Was there a project manager?

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    I think the OP doesn't want to bring this up at work. I think he's worrying that bringing this up outside work will create tensions while back in the office.
    – Agent_L
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 8:39

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