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Someone took a car off my lot after hours with extra keys without paying


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So I did front brakes on a Toyota 4 Runner, needed calipers too so not a cheap brake job. The husband stopped by the next day and paid half the bill with a credit card and the wife said she'd stop by and pay the balance in cash. She didn't show up that day but they took the car that night after hours with extra keys they had. She left a message on my machine that they took the car and she would stop in to pay, but it's been almost 2 weeks and no show. I left a message for them that they need to stop in and pay and pick up their keys but haven't heard back. Is this a potential legal issue for them, like theft? IMO they stole from me when they took the car without my knowledge after hours without paying. Btw she said the brakes work awesome and was very happy with the work.

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I also feel like this is theft, although I'd like to hear from others who have dealt with the legality of situations like this.

I believe you could file a mechanic's lien against the vehicle, but being from Canada, I'm not all that knowledgeable about US law.

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Take the key you have and go steal the car back and lock it up in your shop. You should have a signed estimate or RO, with the proper disclaimer on it.

 

Seriously, why do people tolerate this behavior? A grown adult who is responsible enough to purchase and operate a vehicle should know how vehicle repairs work and should also know that stealing is wrong. Back in the day, when people respected the law, they would hang horse thieves... Just saying.

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I've had two in the last two weeks come to pickup their car and say "I don't have it all right now, but I can pay the rest in two weeks" when they learn they take the car they literally pull the cash out of their other pocket.

 

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2

 

 

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Theft of Service. This is why we always park vehicles inside the shop.

Yes, and they haven't returned my calls. I've been patient so far but they're obviously ignoring me. Have a good buddy who is captain of the local PD, going to run it by him. I have their name, address, and car keys.

 

I don't have extra room in my shop to store cars. They have to get locked and stored on the lot.

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It might be possible to file a lien on the vehicle?

 

Not too sure if it will be cost effective on your behalf; since in our state it is somewhat of a lengthy and pricey procedure.

 

We normally have to send out a few certified letters as proof that we attempted to contact the customer. This might help if you decided to take matters to a small claims court.

 

Best of luck!

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After 30 + years I've only had this happen twice. Both times were years and years ago. The first time was a husband and wife team who worked together to get it. One went inside to the counter talking to me while the other drove off. The second time was a used car lot that came and got it at night. After that... EVERY job that is waiting to be paid on and is completed stays inside... ALWAYS.

 

Found out that small claims is a joke. Spend all day there, only to find out there's nothing they can do except put a bench warrant out on them if the amount is over 500 bucks, if not... as the judge said... find a lawyer.

Secondly, ... as the judge put it... you can't steal your own car. So technically it they are not stealing a car. If you are in a state that they must sign off on the car before work has started then ya might have a chance at it. Here in Okla. ... nada. Oh and if you go to there house and get it, or mess with it in anyway... that's stealing and they can call the cops on YOU,

 

Welcome to working with the public. (Snicker, snort, giggle...) Been there, learned my lesson... ain't happening again that's for sure.

Best place to confront them is at their job. They can't run from ya there. I've chased a few late payers down that way.

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I have disabled vehicles that are not paid for when dealing with fishy customers. Most customers won't figure something simple as pulling coil power, fuel pump fuse, etc...

 

I also have two steering wheel locks I use. I try to remove them before we open so if a customer sees them they don't get the wrong impression, but its hard to trust anybody.

Edited by Mario
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We have actually repo'd cars with the help of a tow truck owner friend who is licensed for repos. Under a little known about admin statute in jersey, we can repo their car for non payment. Technically, they can't steal their own car but they are stealing the parts that haven't been paid for as well as your services. When customers reneged on their promise to pay we send out the tow truck with required paperwork and proof of lien. Have done it twice so far and both made threats to sue, but that didn't last too long once they found out we were in the right. Even the local PD's don't know about it and we have on one of the occasions had to educate them about the statute/law. It's a bit childish, but damn does it feel good to let them know they didn't get one over on you.

 

We also have a huge problem like ncautoshop with people who give you the go ahead to do work, you complete it right away and then they come in and want to do payments. Or they give the go ahead and you call to tell them it's ready and they tell you they will be in next week to pick it up? WHAAATTT? We really hate to do it, but we've gotten so screwed recently we are starting the 3 day pickup window or storage fees accrue. THey leave you no choice. And no payment plans regardless of who you are or what we've done for you in the past. It's going to put us out of business to continue being the nice guy.

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I called her home a couple more times and left messages, no response. Today I put some heat on and called her at work, she didn't answer but I left a message with her office that she had to call me today. She showed up at 5:00 with cash and paid the bill. So glad this didn't have to go into some kind of legal recourse.

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I called her home a couple more times and left messages, no response.  Today I put some heat on and called her at work, she didn't answer but I left a message with her office that she had to call me today.  She showed up at 5:00 with cash and paid the bill.  So glad this didn't have to go into some kind of legal recourse.

What was her attitude like? Some are apologetic, other act like we're out of line or doing something wrong. I've got.one that owes me $100.00 that'll go through the list of things I've done wrong including how he didn't pay because the bill was to much. Funny how he didn't mention that initially?

 

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2

 

 

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What was her attitude like? Some are apologetic, other act like we're out of line or doing something wrong. I've got.one that owes me $100.00 that'll go through the list of things I've done wrong including how he didn't pay because the bill was to much. Funny how he didn't mention that initially?

 

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Yes she was apologetic and very happy with the work we did.

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  • 3 weeks later...

funny how cell phones work. While the car is being repaired their phone works perfect enough to call every hour. Once it's done and they owe you money it doesn't work so good. Some customers are notorious for "stealing" their car in the night and paying next Friday. We lock them inside now. They learn too and 1st they give me an expired credit card and then they write me a bad check or a post dated check. Sometimes we do post-sale on the spot unanticipated payment plans if all else fails, it's not the best but better than taking parts back out. The first year in business I was owed at least $18,000. Now I'm down to less than $200 at any given time. No money no car they figure it out. I started charging storage too, that really speeds things up. At least if their check bounces they face easy to enforce embarrassing legal action if they don't make good on it. For me small claims court is another $50 down the drain. Last time I had to go there the judge told me I was 100% right in everything I did and I still didn't get paid. ?huh? A judgement does not equal payment. I got something eventually in barter items to break even on the parts but what a joke. The bottom line is people don't "forget" to pay, they just don't.

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  • 1 month later...

Yes, and they haven't returned my calls. I've been patient so far but they're obviously ignoring me. Have a good buddy who is captain of the local PD, going to run it by him. I have their name, address, and car keys.

 

I don't have extra room in my shop to store cars. They have to get locked and stored on the lot.

 

Maybe you can invest in a wheel boot lock to put on cars that you have to store outside?

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