On the way home, however, I noticed that the gas gauge appeared to be broken. It was completely fine when I brought it in, so I called up the shop to alert them to the problem and see if I could sneak it in the next day (since I assumed it was their mistake).
As you can see, it looks like the indicator just got knocked off of the little peg it rests on, and is now stuck.
The phone was answered by Ken Scales himself. I started explaining my problem ("My name is Meghan; I picked my car up today, and my gas gauge isn't working. It wasn't that way when I brought it in, so I wondered if I could get that fixed tomorrow."), and the first words out of his mouth were, "We didn't do anything to your gas gauge, Meghan."
I paused, then said, "Okay..." and began describing the problem as best I could. Instead of listening, he repeatedly insisted that there was nothing they could have done while under the hood that would have messed up my gas gauge. At this point, I realized that I could have knocked it off myself when I accidentally backed into a post (at <5mph, not even hard enough to damage the bumper) on my way out of the lot. So I acquiesced that it could indeed have been my fault, but that I just wanted to get it looked at as quickly as possible. He agreed that I could come in the next day.
I ended up having to reschedule and come in today. When I arrived, I was once again greeted by Ken Scales. Upon telling him my problem, he sighed and said, "Oh, you're Miss [mylastname]." Then he immediately adopted a condescending tone and began denying that they could have messed up my gas gauge. I headed him off by admitting that I probably did it myself, and just asked him to look at it and tell me how much it would cost to fix.
After looking at the gauge, he declared it to be an electrical problem. His exact words were that something had "gone to ground" electrically, and that they would have to fit me in next week and run a diagnostic before they could give an estimate. I tried to tell him that the indicator still moved, but he did not listen, and I just got extremely flustered and gave up. Finally, I tentatively agreed, because my CD player had just started acting strangely and thus it seemed possible that the electrical could be giving out. I made an appointment to drop the car off next Tuesday.
"You're a smart girl, right?" he asked condescendingly. "You know how to use your trip odometer?" Even though I said I did, he continued on to explain how I could use it to keep track of my gas used until the gauge was fixed.
On the way home, I thought it over, and the whole thing seemed fishy to me. First of all, I may know next-to-nothing about cars, but I don't see how an electrical malfunction could knock the gas gauge indicator out of position. Second, even if it was an electrical problem, he should have wanted to make sure it wasn't the shop's fault, since it manifested immediately after they worked on the car. Third, he treated me like a child or an idiot instead of listening to my descriptions of the problem. I know that I don't exactly project an aura of competence, but dealing with people upsets me enough already without being made to feel like I have to defend my intelligence. By the time I got home, I was almost crying because I was so upset about the way I'd been treated.
I do not want to pay for an electrical diagnostic without a second opinion. I'd like to know from those of you who do know about cars if I'm being unreasonable about not accepting this guy's explanation. Regardless of whether he is right about the problem, I do not want to deal with this shop anymore because of the way the owner treated me. I'm planning to cancel and make an appointment somewhere else, get their opinion in writing, then take it back to Ken Scales and confront them about any discrepancies.