Consumer Protection Law
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How much were the charges for the repairs on your car and can you tell me a little bit more about what happened?
Some how my response from yesterday didn't go through. We spent $2048. They gave it back to us having test driven it, saying it was all fixed. We took it home not two blocks and it was still struggling, to drive let them know right away. Turns out it was the transmission. And told us for another $1500 they would fix it.
Our issue is how could they not give us a full evaluation to make an informed budgetery decision, and how could they have not known they were giving us a car back that was still running poorly and could be a danger to both us or other drivers.
We got feedback and evaluation from other mechanics stating once they test drove the car it was obvious the transmission was malfunctioning and this car shop wanted to get as much out of us knowing we would have to return for the main problem.That is deceptive practise! and that is what we are fighting. I cant insert documentation of their chats otherwise I would.
Hello again Smitha -
I apologize for the delay here -- I have been offline for a while and just returned. FYI, the only response that I see above is the one that you posted at about 8 AM this morning (July 30). It also took a little while to research these items for you -- every state has a Consumer Protection Act but they all tend to operate a little bit differently from state to state and I wanted to make sure that the information I am giving to you is the most current and up to date.
You can sue pursuant to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act if you file either a small claims action or a regular civil lawsuit for Unfair and Deceptive business practices against the mechanic shop. Specifically in your facts and statement of claim in the civil court paperwork, as the facts you would state something like the following " that the Defendant Auto Mechanic violated the provisions of Virginia Code Section 59.1-196, et. seq., otherwise known as the Virginia Consumer Protection Act by claiming that the Plaintiff's auto needed the following repairs XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (you should put in this section what he said and what was deceptive) and then when the Defendant made such repairs charging the Plaintiff $2038, the Plaintiff's auto was still mechanically unsound and upon further inspection by other mechanics the Plaintiffs auto actually needed a transmission replacement / repair and Defendant Auto Mechanic then requested an additional $1500 to complete the repairs which Plaintiff refused to pay and Plaintiff requested that said additional repairs be included in the $2038 that Plaintiff had already paid to Defendant. Defendant refused and will no longer return Plaintiff's telephone calls and messages so Plaintiff had no choice but to bring this action pursuant to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act." (Obviously, you should write the facts yourself and I am just writing this to give you a general idea).
Then for the statement of claim or statement of the case (every court's standard forms are a bit different and so ) they want you to state what laws you are basing your action on -- so it should be something like this: "the Defendant Auto Mechanic entered into a contract with Plaintiff for certain repairs and when those repairs were not completed, Defendant Auto Mechanic refused to complete the repairs, thereby breaching the contract between the Defendant and Plaintiff and in the course of dealings with the Plaintiff, Defendant Auto Mechanic violated Virginia Code Section 59.1-200 A. 10., the Consumer Protection Act, Prohibited Practices: (A) The following fraudulent acts or practices committed by a supplier in connection with a consumer transaction are hereby declared unlawful......10. Misrepresenting that repairs, alterations, modifications or services have been performed or parts installed .........into the Plaintiff's auto when in fact, Defendant Auto Mechanic had not repaired Plaintiff's auto or performed any repairs that would fix all of the problems with the auto that were needed for the price charged by the Defendant Auto Mechanic.......therefore, Plaintiff seeks a damage award for breach of contract against the Defendant Auto Mechanic for $2038, plus other related fees and costs, and any lawyers and court fees and costs, and Plaintiff hereby requests that this court double or triple the damage award payable to the Plaintiff due to the Defendant Auto Mechanic's intentional and willful violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act".
Now, in Virginia you can bring a small claims action for up to $5,000 which is probably your best route in this situation because the judge can still double or triple the damages award pursuant to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and by using the small claims court you do not need a lawyer, the entire process is much quicker than a regular lawsuit and you can get the forms from the clerk's office at the county civil courthouse -- the forms are generally self explanatory and then you have to serve a copy on the Defendant Mechanic (your best bet is to use the Sheriff or a Constable for about $75 because you will be assured that the documents will be served on the Defendant's business because the Sheriff or Constable must fill out a signed certification and give it to the court - and the $75 will be added to your damages award if you win). The court will set a hearing date within about a month or so and both parties will attend the hearing and because the small claims court is very informal you can generally say and do a lot that might not be permitted in a regular civil court room. Here is a link to a pamphlet prepared by the Virginia court system that explains the entire small claims process for your review and to follow it while you work through the process -- http://www.courts.state.va.us/resources/small_claims_court_procedures.pdf
Once the Defendant Auto Mechanic receives the Small Claims Court complaint and hearing date information, the Defendant has a right under the Virginia Consumer Protection statute Section 59.1-206 to send you what is called a "CURE" Letter. The Defendant does not have to send you this letter -- they can do so if they want to try to settle the case before the court hearing. In the CURE letter (if they choose to send one), the Defendant must make you a reasonable offer to settle this matter and to have the court hearing cancelled. Obviously what is reasonable to the Defendant may not be reasonable to you (and vice versa), but if the Defendant does make an offer in a CURE letter to you and you reject the offer, then if the court finds in your favor and you win this matter -- at the last step where the judge is considering the amount of damages to award, the Defendant Auto Mechanic can use the CURE letter in court to show the judge that they tried to make what they considered to be a reasonable offer to settle the matter before the court hearing. If the judge finds that the offer was reasonable, then the court will not award double or triple damages in these matters.
Finally, you stated that you have filed a complaint with the BBB -- my suggestion is to also file a complaint against the mechanic with the VA Attorney General's Office -- the AG in every state oversees the administration of all of the consumer protection laws in their state and while the AG may not shut him down with this complaint, if they get enough complaints from a number of customers, the AG's office will typically investigate and possibly fine the merchant or suspend or cancel the business license in VA if the violations are found to be numerous and egregious. Here is a link to the Attorney General's Website in VA for you to link into a complaint form there: http://www.ag.virginia.gov/Consumer%20Protection/Where_to_File.html
I hope that all of this helps and I am sorry that it took so long but the research, thought and writing did take some time for you. I actually went the extra mile here and in addition to doing some significant research for your question and issues, I also gave you some suggested language regarding how to present these matters to the court and we generally do not go that far here at Just ANswer due to the educational purposes only objective of the website (we cannot represent customers offline) but I thought that assisting with these matters would make things clearer for you regarding the steps to take and what you need to do with this case.
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would you be willing to help us draft a small claims court form? If so how much would that cost?
Hello again Smitha --
I absolutely wish that I could but this website forbids us from assisting customers offline (I could lose my position). MARY
Wow thats a waste of a great legal expert! Wish they could put some method in place where they gain a fee for their referral!
Me too. And thank you. Perhaps if you make that suggestion to customer service at [email protected] they might get around to considering it. I understand they are concerned about liability issues -- but if they ask customers to sign a waiver for Just Answer then I do not see the problem. But for now there is nothing I can do about it.
I will do that Mary..I have another legal question for you, will send it once I pay for it.
just sent the suggestion
Hello again --
Thanks. If you want me to answer the question you should start the question with "For Mary Legalease" and the other lawyers will leave the question on the board for me to pick it up.
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