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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I took my car to a transmission shop. They were supposed to

Customer Question

I took my car to a transmission shop. They were supposed to repair my transmission. And the invoice stated that they did. I paid the $500.00 and 90 miles later it quit, At the time of removal of the defective transmission. I discovered it was not the transmission that was in my car when I took it to them. The ID # ***** been ground off. And they took my transmission and installed a piece of junk. Is this a crime in the state of Mississippi?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 9 months ago.

Dear Customer,

If the auto repair shop performed repairs on your vehicle that you did not authorize, then they engaged in fraud. If you received a part that had the ID number ground off, it raises the strong possibility that this is part of a larger criminal enterprise (colloquially referred to as a "chop shop" where stolen vehicles are dismantled and the parts are sold to disreputable auto repair or body shops to be placed on unsuspecting customer's cars).

You can contact local law enforcement to report your suspicions, call their non-emergency number and ask to speak to a detective or officer to report a possible crime.

Regarding compensation for the failed part, this is dealt with under "breach of contract" and "negligence" theories.

There is a series of escalating things you can do to deal with this situation.

  • *First: start with the company's customer service and dispute the claim. Keep your complaint in writing. If you speak to someone by phone, follow up promptly with a "confirmation letter" (see my note below).
  • *Second: (you can do this at the same time), if you paid by credit card (not debit card) you can open a dispute with your credit card carrier (follow the instructions with your credit card company). (Some banks do allow for charge disputes on your debit card - but not all, the laws are not the same and debit card purchases do not have the same protections, if you paid by debit card, contact your bank and see if they do have dispute resolution remedies).
  • *Third: open a dispute with the BBB. The BBB offers consumer dispute resolution that is fast, free to consumers, and is usually effective, they have no enforcement authority, but all BBB disputes result in a public report regarding resolution so businesses do respond to them. You can open a BBB dispute here: bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started
  • *Fourth: if you believe that the company is acting fraudulently (not just charging high rates), you can report them to the state Attorney General. The AG's office does not prosecute individual claims (so they will not get your money back for you), but they will investigate and potentially take administrative and/or criminal action against the company.
  • *Finally: you can file a small claims action against them for breach of contract. Small claims actions take approximately 3-8 months to go to trial. There is no guarantee of success in these disputes, but filing a small claims action does open an opportunity to negotiate a resolution (in addition to the above opportunities and can lead to mediation - many courts offer mediation programs for their small claims docket).

Confirmation letters: Keep written records of all communications - so if you speak to someone by phone, promptly send a follow up "confirmation letter" summarizing your conversation, who you spoke to, when, and any agreements you reached. Keep copies of your outgoing correspondence, as well as anything that you receive.

I wish you the best of luck with this dispute, and hopefully a speedy resolution.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your response. I had a problem with another transmission shop 2 years ago. I sued in Justice court and was awarded the judgment. Of course crooks don't pay. So it's back to court to get a property attachment .
This latest event showing what extreme lengths these individuals will go to for cash was a little more complex. I'll give the short version. Cause the Philadelphia MS police say there is no criminal laws broken when a shop Takes a $2000.00 transmission out of my car . Accepts $500.00 for repairs never made. And replaces my Transmission with one from the junk yard or a chop shop.
I didn't know it at the time. But the shop that did the work had been sold in Aug of 2015. And the scam took place in Oct of 2015. Apparently the owner still had keys and the new owner had not moved in.
Since the shop had been sold. And the man doing the work was the previous owner. I was there under the assumption that this was a legitimate active business. In reality the previous owner just showed up to meet my mechanic. And present himself to me that nothing is out of the ordinary. Take parts off my car . Reinstall junk parts. And bill me $500.00.
Based on what the local police said regarding shops cant be held on criminal charges when they steal parts. Can a individual? Cause at the time of this incident he was the previous owner.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 9 months ago.

If the police department is not going to prosecute the charges, you can still contact the State Attorney General. The AG's office is usually the one that is best suited to dealing with fraudulent business practices from a law enforcement perspective.

You can also contact the local prosecutor's office (they are the top law enforcement agency locally and can push for an investigation by the police department, even if that department is reluctant to move forward).

Understand that while these avenues can lead to enforcement against the shop (as well as the former owner that appears to have been engaging in fraudulent conduct as well), they will not help you get your money, or your transmission, back - you still need to sue in small claims court to do that. (It is possible that you can be compensated in the course of an enforcement action, but that is not the primary goal or purpose for these agencies).