Muskegon Chronicle - Pay As You Go

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS — An auto repair shop might not be the first place you would expect to find the Christmas spirit, but then again, not everyone has a business plan as generous as Bill Silva.

The owner of A 2 Z Service Center in Muskegon Heights, Silva offers a service that most auto mechanics wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot wrench: He lets cash-strapped customers without credit pay for repairs as they go.

Maybe it’s a new pair of shocks, or brakes that need to be repaired. Whatever the case, Silva said the practice, which he started about two years ago, has proven popular with residents who are suffering under the weight of Muskegon’s down economy.

“People come in and say, ‘Bill, I’ve got $25 and my car won’t start, can you help me,’” he said.

Silva, 55, of Nunica, says he does what he can. He asks customers to fill out a form, showing whether they have a job or any income. If he thinks the customer has the means to pay the bill at a later date, he’ll do the repairs. Repairs more than $200 require half the cost upfront.

For customers whose repairs add up to thousands of dollars, Silva asks for the title to the car before he does any work. He keeps it until the customer pays the bill — his way of making sure customers keep their word.

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