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What can I do about Overcharges?


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I went to a reputable powder coater and Body shop to get the roof and floor installed on my 1967 Camaro. We went over everything I needed done as well as exactly how much money I had to spend to the dollar. He said he could do the job for lower than that with paint and everything, so I dropped the car off in January so they could work on it a little at a time as they had time. The verbal agreement was that they would charge me a flat rate as they went along, and if they reached the point I needed them to stop they would, Hence the top dollar amount.

The first bill came in March for $1500 and that was no problem, I paid it on the spot. They gave me a list of parts they needed, and I bought all of them and dropped them off. The next bill was larger actually bringing the cost to just $2000 under what we had talked about being the top amount we had discussed. The shop owner said they would not be able to paint the car till next year, and I told him this would be fine, so I could save more money to finish the project. He then called the next day to verify the paint code, which was Friday, and they painted it on Monday. He had a project that was supposed to be there on Monday, and it did not come in till Tuesday, so they took the opportunity to paint my car. The painter called to let me know it had been painted, and thought I should see it. He told me the finish was a little rough because they painted it in a booth that was almost 100 degrees, but that it could be buffed out. I went to talk to the owner, and he told me how much I was going to owe now. It was already $2000 over what I told him I totally had to spend at this time. I ask him to stop and we could finish it at a later time.

The following week I went by to see the car and they had gone ahead and painted all of the trim in the car, and they were spraying bed liner on the underside of the car. I ask him about this, since I had ask him to stop, and he assured it would have a minimal cost, and would save having to do it later. That Friday he gave me another and final bill which was even $7000 higher than the one before. I told him that I had asked him to stop, and he still went ahead. He said oh don’t worry about it; just put it on a charge card! Is there anything I can do about this? I do not feel it is right to charge me for the bad paint finish when even they admit they painted the car with the Temperature too hot.

Edited by psy4s (see edit history)
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If you know an attorney call him , or if not go see one. It seems to me that he is just running the bill up on you. They're right though, if the bill is just not paid, most states allow the individual to put a mechanics lean on the vehicle and sell it for their money. Doesn't sound like a very reputable shop if you ask me.

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It's going to be tough to fight this, as soon as the Lawyer hears "verbal agreement" he'll start crawfishin' (a Louisiana term for backing up......).

I ran into a similar situation, had a shop owned by a friend do some work for me, with no discussion up front of quality, scope of work, or cost. A very large bill, not appropriate for the car that I was working on. Only course of action is to pay up, get it out of the shop, and move on, lesson learned.

The old adage "hope for the best, plan for the worst" applies, get written description of scope of work and cost, unless you have very deep pockets. I like to think the best of people too, but sometimes the goal of your action versus the goal of the shop owner are two very different things.

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I have not mentioned his shop, and I plan to pay so I can get my car back, but you bet I Will spray his name and what was done every place I can on the net. There won't be a car blog that doesn't know about this. I guarantee that.

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He should NOT be charging you for that poor quality "paint-job" Also~.

I would consider a complaint to the Better Business Bureau along with a letter from a lawyer just to make his life a bit tougher !

Sometimes all a shop need is a threat of leagal & consumer action !

Sonetimes !

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  • 1 month later...

Sounds like a flaky deal, for sure.

From my college business law class, a verbal agreement is binding IF it can be consumated/completed in one year. Still, though, a written Estimate of Repairs is a better document to have, along with a written list of what you want done.

The temp in the spray booth is not nearly as critical as mixing the paint to match the ambient temp of the booth environment. There are about three different levels of "reducers"/thinners for different temperatures. I've heard the "It'll buff out . . . " comments before, but it'll never be as shiney and slick as if it were sprayed correctly in the first place. There are some instances where the paint did buff out nicely, the next day, but I'd always be leery of a painter that was seemingly trying to pass of mediocre work with that "It'll buff . . . " comment.

As for trying to get back at the shop by dishing them on the 'net . . . FORGET IT. It might make you feel better, but the desired effect is minimal, if any at all. Pay the money to get the car back . . . as expeditiously as you can--period. Then carefully document the final job with pictures (genuine film might be better than digital, so they can't claim you tampered with it via electronic means). Contact your state's Attorney General regarding the business practices, plus your County operatives. If the shop owner went ahead and did things you didn't authorize specifically, then many municipalities can rule that you don't owe for that work as you didn't specifically authorize it. The fact that he got it painted sooner than anticipated is one thing (which shouldn't affect repair costs), but the other stuff (spray-on bedliner material rather than spray undercoat, for example) would be "non-authorized" and fall into the realm of "non-authorized repairs".

KEY THING IS TO GET THE CAR IN YOUR LEGAL POSSESSION QUICKLY--PERIOD! Pay the bill and then put the car in a safe and secure locked (with you having the key) location.

You can talk "lawyers" and such, but it would be very hard to find one well-enough versed in car stuff (typically, I suspect) rather than legal issues of non-authorized repair work that will really know what your best course of action might be. PLUS, they get a cut of the settlement, if any, too! This is why going through your city or county attorney and state Attorney General, with regard to business practices, is a better course of action.

If this shop did this to you, he might have done other flaky things, too. And . . . next week the shop could be closed with no forwarding address! BUT, these kinds of shop owners usually resurface somewhere sooner or later. Things might look great going into the deal, but get bad quickly as things progress.

Pay the bill, get the car in your personal and secure possession, and consider this a "lesson learned".

Regards,

NTX5467

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I agree the BBB is a joke.

I'd file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's office. See Attorney General: Consumer Protection.

I would also buy an hour of time from an attorney experienced in consumer frauds. I did a quick bit of research and it looks like it is a violation of Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act to make repairs that exceed the estimate by 10% and that also cost more than $750. Of course it is possible that the estimate has to be in writing and that only the attorney general can file an action under the Act, but you should check.

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Don't be too sure of that. State law varies but in PA restoration shops and shops repairing collector vehicles are specifically excluded from the laws requiring written authorization for additional work. There also is no such thing as a Mechanic's Lien on car repairs in PA, contrary to popular "knowledge".

I agree the BBB is a joke.

I'd file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's office. See Attorney General: Consumer Protection.

I would also buy an hour of time from an attorney experienced in consumer frauds. I did a quick bit of research and it looks like it is a violation of Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act to make repairs that exceed the estimate by 10% and that also cost more than $750. Of course it is possible that the estimate has to be in writing and that only the attorney general can file an action under the Act, but you should check.

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On matters of principal, I'm all for people taking action to make things right -- just know that if you take it to court, be prepared to win your judgment and still lose all your money.

Best thing -- cut your losses, get your car back, and quit taking this joker at his word. I had a customer that spent nine years in a deal like yours. He sued, won, I finished the car for him, and in the end the other guy disappeared and the only one who got any money out of the deal were the lawyers.

Your honest word-of-mouth story is capable of doing more monetary damage that, maybe he'll never see, but will still equal more than you may ever get out of a legal proceeding.

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You could always do what I did. I had a "friend" who did body work take my 1968 Dodge Dart 383 4-speed car to replace the front clip on it for an agreed price of $400.00 (with luck, my wife was a witness). The car sat in his yard for over a year with crap piled on top of it. I finally told him outright that I needed the car back so I could finish it. Well, two days later he was done and told me to come and get it. I loaded the car onto a ramp truck and went to him to pay the bill. He handed me a bill for $1,400.00!! WHAT THE %&^$#***&!!! My wife says, "What happened to the $400.00 estimate?" "Well", he says, "I had to hire a helper to get it done because you wanted the car back so soon". I freaked out and unloaded the car (my mistake). I ended up doing what the police here call a "civil standby" where a police officer goes with you to confront the guy. It ended up that he was so intimidated by the policewoman that he relinquished the car to me. WHEW! The police officer told me that she could not force him to give me the car back, but the intimidation factor worked. Turns out this "friend" of 10 years was going to try to keep the car and put a 440 in it and race it. Got the car back...lost a "friend" and was very relieved to get my car back. Maybe MCHinson has a tip or two to get your car back. That's mine.

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In PA a shop cannot keep your car for non payment unless you agreed in writing before hand. If the owner shows up during regular business hours he can remove his vehicle regardless whether there is money owed. Shops only recourse is to file suit in civil court and seek a judgement.

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Since I got a mention, I guess I should chime in. The major problem that I have in providing any advice is that I know nothing about the laws of the state of Inidiana. Normally this type of thing is a civil situation. In some (very few) cases, there may be a criminal statute that has been violated by continuing work inflating a bill after being told to stop. My best advice would be to contact an attorney for a consultation.

Another idea that may be a long shot, you might call your State Attorney General's Office and talk to someone about the situation. Many State Attorney General's Offices have a consumer protection/consumer fraud section. They may be able to help you.'' One other similar alternative, while a real long shot, would be to call your local police department and speak to a fraud detective and see what he or she thinks of this situation.

Other than that, I would pay the bill, get my car back, and then check with an attorney about the potential to pursue a civil suit for the money spent over and above the agreed total price. Good Luck.

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On matters of principal, I'm all for people taking action to make things right -- just know that if you take it to court, be prepared to win your judgment and still lose all your money.

Best thing -- cut your losses, get your car back, and quit taking this joker at his word. I had a customer that spent nine years in a deal like yours. He sued, won, I finished the car for him, and in the end the other guy disappeared and the only one who got any money out of the deal were the lawyers.

Your honest word-of-mouth story is capable of doing more monetary damage that, maybe he'll never see, but will still equal more than you may ever get out of a legal proceeding.

I wasn't suggesting he immediately file a lawsuit. I agree that he could win a suit and come out losing money. But sometimes a letter from an attorney can get the offending party to see the light. Kind of like what Keiser31 suggested with the police officer. Some states' consumer protection laws allow for triple damages. That can really get someone's attention.

Also, attorneys don't necessarily get a cut of any settlement as someone suggested. It's up to you how you pay your attorney. You can pay by the hour or arrange a contingent fee in which the attorney does get a cut of a settlement.

There is no way I'd pay the $9,000 and walk away and treat it as a lesson learned without at least getting some advice from an attorney.

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What about Small Claims Court ? ( you know "The People's Court")~

You may be over that court's Maximum money limit~

But it's worth a shot; and it will not cost you very much !

File with your local district judges office and have this bum served with a court summons and dragged to a local court hearing ~

He MAY back down ~~

Worth a shot ! ?

Edited by Silverghost (see edit history)
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As I understand it, Small Claims Court is just that, "small claims" with a particular dollar cap on the judgment sought . . . usually, I suspect, under $1000.00 total.

Unless a judge directs that restitution be paid right then, the offending party could disappear from "the face of the earth" . . . even if he might have a judgement against him and/or his business.

"Checks" can be worthless too -- even a Cashier's Check can have a "Stop Payment" put on it.

Whatever the judgment might be, it's worthless until it's paid. Past that, local and state laws can dictate what can happen.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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I wasn't suggesting he immediately file a lawsuit. I agree that he could win a suit and come out losing money. But sometimes a letter from an attorney can get the offending party to see the light. Kind of like what Keiser31 suggested with the police officer. Some states' consumer protection laws allow for triple damages. That can really get someone's attention.

Also, attorneys don't necessarily get a cut of any settlement as someone suggested. It's up to you how you pay your attorney. You can pay by the hour or arrange a contingent fee in which the attorney does get a cut of a settlement.

There is no way I'd pay the $9,000 and walk away and treat it as a lesson learned without at least getting some advice from an attorney.

You're right. I didn't mean to imply bypassing the task of at least giving him a good scare first.

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Re: Small claims court~

We had a problem with a repair shop about five years ago.

We paid and the work was really never done properly; if at all !

PA at that tme had a $3000 Small Claims limit~

We had photos and written documentation from a new shop that re-did this work~

Armed with this we filed in local disrict court for the maxium amount allowed~

We had shop served with complaint by court~

Day before hearing the shop owner asked court for continuance time extension~

New hearing date was set by judge~

Day before same second hearing date~ Same thing he wanted another extension ~ shop got another time extension~

Hearing again re-listed ~

I complained to judge's staff ~

Third time we finally appered before the judge on third listed hearing date ~~~

Shop owner never showed up ! Judge was steamed to say the very least !

Judge had us present our case and gave us a default jugement.

Judge then told us that this shop owner probaby would ignore court judgement and not pay~

He told us to let the court know IF he pad or not ~

Sure enough he did not pay~

I called the judge and he told me that "We have ways to deal with folks who thumb their nose at the courts like this?"

Judge filed FOR me an execution of judgement and court sent an officer to guy's shop to begin a court orderd Judgement sale to satisfy our $3000judgement.

Officer put big notice of court ordered sale sticker on shop door and stickers on all shop & office equipment and tool chests etc~~~

We got our $3000 judgement + court costs check three days later from shop owner!

Case Closed !

The system worked !

PS: in six months this shop went out of business !

No small wonder why !

Edited by Silverghost (see edit history)
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  • 4 years later...

Pay with CC-get your car then do a chargeback.

A cashier's check is a negotiable instrument guaranteed by a financial institution. Since the funds are backed by a bank, a cashier's check is more secure than a personal check. Unlike personal checks, individuals can't place a "stop payment" on a cashier's check. There's little recourse if you change your mind about a cashier's check, but you may be able to get reimbursement in some situations.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_7557760_cancel-cashiers-check.html

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Pay with CC-get your car then do a chargeback.

A cashier's check is a negotiable instrument guaranteed by a financial institution. Since the funds are backed by a bank, a cashier's check is more secure than a personal check. Unlike personal checks, individuals can't place a "stop payment" on a cashier's check. There's little recourse if you change your mind about a cashier's check, but you may be able to get reimbursement in some situations./QUOTE]

I had a cashiers check stopped on me once. The bank "said" their customer wrote a check to pay for it, the bank suspected the customer was kiting checks and froze the accounts. I did get my money after the bank and I had a 'friendly' conversation.

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Pay with CC-get your car then do a chargeback.

A cashier's check is a negotiable instrument guaranteed by a financial institution. Since the funds are backed by a bank, a cashier's check is more secure than a personal check. Unlike personal checks, individuals can't place a "stop payment" on a cashier's check. There's little recourse if you change your mind about a cashier's check, but you may be able to get reimbursement in some situations./QUOTE]

I had a cashiers check stopped on me once. The bank "said" their customer wrote a check to pay for it, the bank suspected the customer was kiting checks and froze the accounts. I did get my money after the bank and I had a 'friendly' conversation.

Over the years of collecting Cashiers Checks, around a 1.000.000, never had a problem. If I could have not cashed them!

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