The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Bart
 
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The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

I dropped a 1970 Elco off for bodywork and replacement of a quarter panel and now the shop has disappeared and so did the Elco. I saw this while going by last week. The body shop was surrounded by Marijuana Grow Warehouses as this is Colorado and so nobody to ask about what happened.

I've read posts about problems with being in "Paint Jail" and so sought a recommendation from a fellow at the auto paint store, who recommended this fellow and said that if there were any problems, to let him know and he would get it back on track. Unfortunately he passed away from cancer last year. I didn't have a working phone number for the shop and knew that calling was a waste of time and that only going in, in person was of any use.

The shop owner had been putting me off and putting me off and each time I would call he'd just tell me how busy he was with other peoples cars.

I called the DMV to see if someone was having the title bonded to sell the vehicle and they told me to call the police. Called the police and they told me it was a civil matter as I had entered into an agreement with the shop owner and there was nothing they could do. Some calls later they relented and did some tracing for him and found a working phone number and a new "business partner" of his responded to the police.

They were irate that the vehicle had been reported stolen and claimed they had tried to contact me. There was no contact - they lost my number again, as had happened before. The police detective told me to call a certain number and that there were storage fees waiting for me on my still - unfinished vehicle. They will say the storage fees are continuing to accrue each day. The "business partner" who apparently now speaks for the person I entered into the agreement - called me within 10 minutes of my hanging up with the detective as the detective said that he had given my phone number to him. The shop owner had lost my number again and its pretty clear why the shop disappeared with the car, without contacting me.

I knew I couldn't make this call in a sane manner and had my attorney do so, and there hasn't been a call back from the shop so far. I have an unfinished vehicle and now they are charging me for storage. I understand that in order to charge for storage, there would have had to have been a signed agreement stating that storage fees could be charged. There was not a signed agreement as this was all done on a recommendation and I have paid checks with notations on them for earlier partial payments, but no other paperwork.

I asked the detective where the car is being stored - and he told me he didn't ask, once they told him they had the car and he said he's dropped the stolen vehicle status and that its a civil matter once again.

I have a car that has at least been located (somewhere) thats unfinished and won't be finished now, and a daily storage charge on top of it. He lost my phone number again and is trying to profit from not doing the work, after jerking me around on getting it done.

Would really like to have him served papers but don't know where the shop is, but found a mobile home he owns and went by and its not there. It wouldn't be wise of me to go up to his door at this point, as nothing good will happen. Not sure what I could charge him with but still working on that.

This really needs to be in front of a judge or other approach, but I'm sure not paying storage for an unfinished vehicle. The detective told me to bring my checkbook to pay the storage fees.

This part of classic cars is ridiculous - when you have an insurance company involved they threaten to pull all their business if a car isn't completed, but on non-insurance work you're on your own.

How might I proceed from here, without getting myself in legal trouble in seeing him at his house? I don't know where his shop and my Elco are. These are just the things I was trying to avoid in getting a recommendation from someone I trust, but has moved on to the next world - the fellow from the auto paint store.

Sorry for the implied emotion - it's difficult to separate.

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Last edited by ss3966; Jul 21st, 20 at 11:12 AM. Reason: typo typhoon
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post #2 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 11:07 AM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

Sorry to hear that. Pay the storage fees, get the car back, and sue the owner for the fees plus anything else he owes you.

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post #3 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 11:49 AM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

I would not have allowed the police to close the case and tell you it's civil now. It is civil once they see that cars condition and you must be with them to confirm that no damage has been done. The vehicle was moved without your permission I assume. Why didn't your lawyer advise you of this action. Also most contracts state storage will be charged if the car isn't picked up within a certain amount of time after completion.
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post #4 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 12:49 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

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Originally Posted by Billdini View Post
I would not have allowed the police to close the case and tell you it's civil now. It is civil once they see that cars condition and you must be with them to confirm that no damage has been done. The vehicle was moved without your permission I assume. Why didn't your lawyer advise you of this action. Also most contracts state storage will be charged if the car isn't picked up within a certain amount of time after completion.
That's right. How can they charge storage on a car they haven't finished the work on? I get that they can do it after the work is finished and you've been notified that it's ready, but not while they still have work to do on it. You may have to get your attorney to find out from the police where the car is. I'd pick it up as soon as it's located, and you may need the police to do that.
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post #5 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 1:16 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

Damn, this is horrible. i hope this works out and you can retrieve your car. I do think it was really smart for you to get a lawyer, i know my temper would have gotten the best of me in your situation, making the situation worse. I would be interested as to what your lawyer thinks of 69SS454 advice......cause i would agree with that, but at the same time, this whole thing seems crazy shady, and there is the old saying, you cant get blood from a stone, i mean if they piss away the money you give them for storage fees, and they have nothing, can you really get anything?

Like i said, i am the type that would lose my mind over this, and get myself into all sorts of trouble. I would spend every spare waking hour trying to locate the car, and of course, stealing it back.

Its also a shame that it seems as though the LEO's arent really that interested in helping you either. I mean, it sounds like they are putting you into a position where you may do something that might not be super legal.
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post #6 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 1:19 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

They are amateurs for sure...sounds like fraud by deception to me!

Do whatever you have to and take your car out even in pieces. I had to do the same thing after too many years, most the car was missing. Even the roof, trim tag you name it. 2nd shop never finished either...

They have to tell you where the car is, bring a witness and the police. Make a suprise visit and using your pics of your car get it all out in one shot. DOnt let them be lazy and not do this

Next shop no deals no verbal get it all in writing.....expensive lesson.
Even my daily is in paint jail and gettting the "need money" thing so he can save his rating with the ins company
IMO most body trans shops are ripoff artists.

As far as collecting if he gets a judgement he can pay the sheriffs to stick a caretaker in that shops front door and they will collect every dime that comes through their door til hes paid. Hopefully it doesnt go that far

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post #7 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 1:50 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

Why is it that body shops, especially those that will do restoration work are mainly populated with flakes and head cases, if not outright cheats, liars and crooks? I don't know if I will EVER be able to get my car redone unless I learn to do it myself because based on basically EVERY project I have personal knowledge of, it has been a a total clusterfluck.

Just for instance, My best friend's 57 Bel Air has been in paint jail since 2006 because the first shop wanted the job and then never touched it, and the second has been moving at a snail's pace because he keeps bringing in more cars and working on them instead of finishing any of the jobs he already committed to. For six months he has basically been down to getting it sprayed (We are reassembling the car, total down to the last nut and bolt job) but yet he has not yet managed to find the time to shoot it. EVERYBODY I talk to it's one kind of horror story or another. Even the TV restoration shows admit to being two or more years behind on many of their projects. I am 52, and for the first time in my life I have my car working well enough to REALLY enjoy it, and I'll be DAMNED if I am going to surrender 3-10 years of my life with my car so some jackass body guy can perpetually screw the pooch. I don't know if it's the paint fumes or what, but I have yet to meet one I would trust as far as I could throw them.
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post #8 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 2:50 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

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Originally Posted by Droptop72 View Post
Why is it that body shops, especially those that will do restoration work are mainly populated with flakes and head cases, if not outright cheats, liars and crooks? I don't know if I will EVER be able to get my car redone unless I learn to do it myself because based on basically EVERY project I have personal knowledge of, it has been a a total clusterfluck.

Just for instance, My best friend's 57 Bel Air has been in paint jail since 2006 because the first shop wanted the job and then never touched it, and the second has been moving at a snail's pace because he keeps bringing in more cars and working on them instead of finishing any of the jobs he already committed to. For six months he has basically been down to getting it sprayed (We are reassembling the car, total down to the last nut and bolt job) but yet he has not yet managed to find the time to shoot it. EVERYBODY I talk to it's one kind of horror story or another. Even the TV restoration shows admit to being two or more years behind on many of their projects. I am 52, and for the first time in my life I have my car working well enough to REALLY enjoy it, and I'll be DAMNED if I am going to surrender 3-10 years of my life with my car so some jackass body guy can perpetually screw the pooch. I don't know if it's the paint fumes or what, but I have yet to meet one I would trust as far as I could throw them.
I have a couple really good shops that used to do classics but no longer. Why, money, it just wasn't there. Even working on new cars they get less the 50/hr labor. That's less than half what a dealer or top notch repair shop gets. They have to make money on parts and they better be quick and good so they don't have to do it again. The only time I have paid a body shop is when I get hit by someone else and its insurance. The classic shops up here are big bucks and this area is expensive. Your average top mechanic can easily take home 150k where the bondo guy might make 60K. So the good shops are there for sure and able but expect to pony up for the good ones. Fumes, maybe, I have walked out of the garage with things spinning around
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post #9 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 3:05 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

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Originally Posted by Droptop72 View Post
Why is it that body shops, especially those that will do restoration work are mainly populated with flakes and head cases, if not outright cheats, liars and crooks?
Because the honest, hard working, good businessmen know they'll make more money doing collision work.

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post #10 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 3:26 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

Just hit the local cruises, ask around and pick a tech that does side work. After that, do your due diligence. I did that years ago but they got thin, and yes, the good collision techs make very good money so few are willing to do side work, which is HARD work compared to collision. After that, I just got my hands dirty and learned the trade. I started to do it on the side, and I'm not, or every have done it professionally, but I'd stack my work along any top bodyguy. After I got a couple flaky customers, I just hung it up, now just do it for my own junk. So, it goes both ways.
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post #11 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 3:34 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

I would not go anywhere near the guy.

Let your Lawyer deal with it. When he sees a summons in the mail he might change his tune. Depending on how much work has actually been done and how much you have paid him so far he might decide to just let you come and get your car. They can claim they tried to call you but if your lawyer is good they will get you phone records and find out the truth.

Also, I don't know what they are called in your area but get in touch with whoever actually prosecutes criminals. They are called the States Attorneys Office here in Maryland. Call them and talk to one of them and ask their opinion if a crime has been committed. If they say yes they might take over and prosecute the guy. They might also tell you "no, it is a civil matter" but its worth a try.
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post #12 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 3:46 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

Have your lawyer send a demand letter.
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post #13 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 4:01 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

They lost your phone number you need to lawyer up and get after them.Alternative is to get in contact with your insurance co and let them know you may want to file for a stolen vehicle claim.Maybe they could put some pressure on the local police dept to help you out with this.
Another thing is your local congressman or representative to put some pressure on the police to help you with this.They (police) don't understand that it's a $30 plus crime that is happening and it isnot civil at all.They (police) can prevent this crime from happening but they are allowing it to happen.Also go up the chain at the police dept.if you talked to a sargent and he said no then ask to speak to his supervisor keep going up the chain of command till you get someone to actually listen to what's happening to you.Also get their name and badge number so they can be called into court to testify if need be.
That body shop is doing anything and everything they can to lose your car from you.That's a crime in my opinion.
They moved the car from that location without your permission (crime)
they lost your phone number (their fault)
money was paid (down payment or deposit) without any service rendered (crime)
I really hope you can resolve this.You should also post your car's VIN number just in case they try to sell your car someone from TC could see it and alert you of what's happening.I wish you the Best of Luck in resolving this.
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post #14 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 5:15 PM
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Re: The Body Shop is Gone - And So Is My Car They Had

Well they are not all rip offs. In January 2016 I took my 69 to a shop that mostly did collision work, but did some classic work. This was for a complete repaint.
I soon found out that was a mistake. It sat there for 8 months and they worked on it about ten hours in that time. So I wised up and pulled my car from there.
Found a restoration shop and they did a mild frame off in four months. They did fantastic work and were very dedicated to the project. All the work they did was excellent. Down side is they were kinda pricey. Their rate was $100.00 per hour but they had good people that knew what they were doing and they allowed me to supply all my own parts. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone.
As far as the OP, tell your lawyer you want your car out of there.
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post #15 of 183 (permalink) Old Jul 21st, 20, 6:52 PM
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I would definitely go with a lawyer. They can save you a lot more than they charge.

If it's a third party that's charging storage fees (because the shop probably went under), you may have to front the cost, but you could definitely sue the shop (if it still exists) or its owners.

If there was anything goofy about their relationship with the storage place (like the same people own it, or their family members do), then you may be able to go after that entity too.

A properly run corporation or LLC would shield the owners from getting sued personally, but this place sounds like it's anything but "properly run". Most small business owners get things wrong, in ways that break down the wall between them and their company. This means you can go after them personally, even if their business went bankrupt.

What I'd do right now, is to write down everything you remember about the whole deal - conversations, names, dates, times, etc. Also, you'll want to save every text / email / voicemail. If you don't see a judge for 6 months, you don't want it getting thrown out because you can't remember some small detail.
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