About four months, ago my car was towed to the garage. We have periodically been calling the garage for updates about the that i have issues. Every time i called they gave some reason for why they haven’t had a chance to look at it. I was understanding and trusted they would eventually get to my car.
So, time after time over the past four months, i have called and repeatedly received the same answer," sorry we didn’t get to it yet." Today, i called and asked how the car was coming, and they said there was an issue. They said," there was a family of mice living in the car and the mechanic wasn’t comfortable working on the car and ultimately said that the car may be totaled because the rodents may have chewed through wires and may have caused irreversible damage. I trusted them with my car, and now there saying the car wasn’t actually on their property for part of the time it sat there. Is this so they can’t be liable for my car or repairs that, in my opinion, originated from them just letting the car sit ???
It is possible that they are at fault,but there’s no way we can know. I suggest that you talk to an attorney.
When a shop accepts your vehicle for repair, they come under what is called a “Contract For Hire”. This means the shop is responsible for your vehicle while it’s in their possession and must keep it under their control. If they moved the vehicle off their property while it was in their possession, then they violated that contract as they no longer had control of the vehicle. So you have a right to sue the shop for breach of contract and for any damages the vehicle incurred. You can also ask for punitive damages from the judge. This is where the judge awards you extra money from the shop to make sure that the shop doesn’t do this again to another customer.
While I don’t think that most reasonable people would have stood for that, “we didn’t have a chance to look at it yet”, routine for 4 months, the bottom line is that this shop has taken the OP for a ride in terms of both customer service and a truthful/accurate account of what the car’s actual problems might be.
As Tester has implied, the OP should file suit in Small Claims Court for Breach of Contract and for Punitive Damages. No competent and honest mechanic would claim that he hadn’t had a chance to look at the car for several months, and even though the OP was extremely naïve to accept this line of BS, this is the time to file a legal complaint against this Charlatan shop.
@will82, what state do you live in? Small claims court implies that there is an upper limit on the claim you can make. Maybe your claim fits into the rule, and maybe not. You have rodent damage, rodent eradication, and 4 months without use. It seems to me that the small claims limit is likely to be too small. It is $5000 in Maryland. Your state could be more or less.
3 or 4 years ago I was driving down the road, going to a movie I think, and noticed a big neon sign “Auto Parts and Machine Shop” so I pulled in, as I needed a stop-light switch for my Ford truck, thought I’d just pop in and get it. Plus I wanted to know about their machine shop services.
I immediately noticed something was wrong. The place I parked was the only spot. There were cars in various state of disrepair – mostly 80’s models – parked end to end over the entire lot. Inside, the store was virtually impossible to move about in. Junk everywhere. When I asked the proprietor for the stop light switch, he went on a hunt for the book which said what the part number was. What, no computer?
Now a little more worried, after 15 minutes of moving tin cans off the parts index books, he finds the part number and writes it down on the back of a 7 of hearts playing card. ??? 15 minutes later he emerges from the back storage area saying it must be too new of part, he doesn’t have it. This is for a 1972 truck!
Just curious, I ask him why there are so many cars parked on his property. Practically stacked end to end. He says “Oh, those are people’s cars that brought them in to be fixed, and they didn’t pay their bill.”
I got in my car and drove away fast as I could.
The moral to this story: A confirmation to always get a personal recommendation from a friend, coworker or relative for auto repair shops.
Tester is correct. In fact, in my former life I was a lawyer and here in Pennsylvania we call punitive damages exemplary, to set an example for the offender and others should such behavior continue. Also remember, the burden of proof ( which is yours) is only slightly over 50%, tipping the scales of justice 51 to 49 is enough. JT also has a point, and you might want to check filing fees in both small claims and county, if similar go to the higher court to avoid a limitation on your claim amount. Good luck! Rocketman
Year, make, model of car?? How old are you? No shop needs a car for 4 months unless there is something going on backstage…Are other family members involved with this issue?
4 months is a very long time to have a car at a shop for general repairs. I can understand something like “My electrical guy is on vacation” or “Our transmission specialist is out for back surgery” but any more than a week or two without some progress on the car is bad, for both the shop and the customer. I know I’d refuse the job and refer you to someone else if I couldn’t get to it within 2 weeks.
Now unless you brought your car in for an electrical issue that could be related to the wiring damage I’d think it’s their responsibility. But I fear that what we think here might not be helpful to you. All that matters is what the shop is willing to do and what the legal system in your state has to say. I’d call your insurance company and see if they have any advice, and maybe talk to a lawyer.
I once had a customer tow a car in on a Sunday evening, it was left out back. Monday morning I saw the window had been smashed and stereo gone. I actually ended up in an argument with the customer over who was responsible. She adamantly refused to let me fix the damage and insisted on calling her insurance company. Then again I have refused to pay for damage that I knew full well happened while the car was in my possession. There are specific details to every situation and we need to know more for yours.
This never should have been allowed to go on for 4 months but state laws vary and this could easily turn into a he said/she said. The shop could in turn claim that you balked about the expense of diagnosing and repairing a problem followed by countersuing for storage fees or any time (real or alleged) spent on looking at the car.
I don’t understand the part about the shop stating your car wasn’t actually on the property part of the time if that’s really the case; unless it means they farmed it out and someone threw in the towel at some point.
You might need to check with your state Attorney General’s office about this situation.
Agreed 4 months is too long. Why was the car towed? Maybe it was critter damage at the house and the mice went along or the ride. I would try a call to my insurance agent, see if they agree the car is totaled, get your money from the insurance company and let them fight the battle.