Walked out of the post office today and saw an elderly guy wearing a US Coast Guard hat with 1947-1951 on it standing next to a early 2000s Town Car with the hood up. My Father in Law is an old Coastie so I decided to go check things out.
So I approach the car and see a huge puddle of coolant underneath. No simple jumper cables to the rescue fix today. As I introduce myself and ask what's going on, I start tracing coolant hoses around the 4.6l. The old guy is car-clueless, and keeps referring to himself as a dinosaur. I notice that the two coolant hoses going to the heater core aren't connected to it, and instead they've been looped together with a 90 degree plastic elbow, bypassing the heater core. One of the hoses is split 1/2" from the elbow and spewing coolant, and the other is so badly kinked it isn't flowing coolant in the loop.
I asked him why he bypassed the heater core, and his response was, "what!? I just took it to a shop to get the a/c fixed two weeks ago and they charged me $600 for it. My heater is disconnected?"
I show him the hack-bypass job with the 90 degree elbow, and show him the split hose. I told him I could cut the hose down and get him patched to drive safely, but he should take it back to the shop and raise hell about what they did. He agreed and I cut and reconnected the hose.
He thanked me profusely, and his wife came out and gave me a hug. They pulled out and left and I followed soon after. I noticed I was behind them a block away and saw him turn in at a repair shop. I don't know why, but I decided to see this thing through and turned in behind them. He saw me in the parking lot and I said that I would like to hear what they have to say.
The old guy was trying to explain what happened to the service manager, and kept mixing things up, so I jumped in and said, "show me every RO you've ever done for this car." The guy immediately perked up at the industry lingo (RO=repair order) and I explained that I wanted to make sure they weren't screwing over the old dude.
I reviewed just a single RO because he had only been there once. They did a fan clutch and an actuator in the dash for the ac vents. 600 is in the ballpark for those two things, so I asked him to explain the heater hoses. He claimed to have no clue, and brought the tech in. The tech looked guilty as hell, but still claimed to not have done anything to them. I asked him to explain how the heater was disconnected when it was working a month ago, and this is the only shop it's been to. I asked him if he damaged the heater core when he was pulling the dash apart to fix the vent actuator. He got super defensive and started accusing me of lying. I told the service manager that if they don't agree to pay to fix the heater system at another shop, I'd have 3 news stations at his door first thing in the morning. I think he realized that the tech was full of it, and agreed to my terms.
I called an independent mechanic i know and trust and scheduled an appointment for the old guy the next morning. We'll see what he has to say tomorrow.
Update: Old guy got the Lincoln over to my independent mechanic. Leaking heater core in the car. Cheap part, but normally crazy labor. He said he'd do it for the guy for $200. When I told him the other shop was flipping the bill, he told me that his normal labor rate would make it $480, but he'll still only charge the other shop the $200. Stand up guy. Didn't want to hose the other shop for their retarded mechanic.
Good carma all around.