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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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We have a hot tub malfunction. There was initially negligent

Customer Question

We have a hot tub malfunction. There was initially negligent assessment and incorrect billing, and needless hiring (at the repairman/company's insistence) of an electrician following that, running to several hundred dollars even though the unit is under full warranty. Then the same repairman was re-sent at the insistence of the company , even though another was requested due to the initial incompetence (he didn't even open the unit). This time the repairman actually opened the cover and immediately identified the problem as being from a product malfunction and directly stated this to my wife and I, stating that he'd seen this exact same problem at least 50 or 60 times. As a de facto admission of fault, the corroded pump was replaced under warranty. But there is diffuse, and very obvious, jet and light housing damage from the same malfunction. The repairman stated he was taking pictures of the damage and would submit it to the manufacturer for remedy. When we called the dealer's service manager to follow up, he called the repairman while my wife was on the line , and the repairman denied having told us what we had been told, and stated the unit was in perfect working order when he left, and blamed us for the problem (although, again, if this was true the warranty would have been voided and the pump repair would not have been covered either). The Service manager essentially treated us as liars at that point, even though it was the repairman who was lying. The service manager refused to honor the warranty and repair the damage. When I asked to speak to the Service Manager's supervisor, I was told that there was no one higher than him. When I stated that that must mean that he owned the company, he replied that this was indeed the case. Obviously, this is not true. Both the service manager and the repairman have been explicitly dishonest, and damage due to product defect is being denied repair. I would like to press my claim against the dealer and manufacturer for repair, but quite frankly I am very upset at being lied to, overcharged, inconvenienced, etc. while having my, and my wife's, integrity questioned. I took immediate notes of the conversation with the service manager, and my wife and I would obviously both vouch for what we each heard from the repairman regarding the cause of the problem and the claim by the repairman that he would be starting the process of getting the remaining damage repaired through the manufacturer, which clearly was not true. At this point, it is much more a matter of principle than money. Is there any way to explicitly proceed against the dishonest individuals personally, in addition to the usual avenues against the company?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
Pursuing claims based on principle is not generally a very good idea (it usually ends up costing a lot more money and taking a lot more time than you initially imagine it will, and liability for moral wrong is usually much more tentative (if it exists at all) than clear legal liability), such as a warranty/breach of contract claim that you have against the shop and the manufacturer for your appliance.You can follow up with the claim in a couple of different ways (I will provide you with several so that you can escalate your claim, and try to conserve costs as you pursue a remedy).You can try a BBB complaint - this is the fastest, and cheapest (it is free to you), but the BBB has no enforcement capability, so it is not always effective, but if you try it and it is unsuccessful, you have not compromised your claim and you can pursue other options: can file a small claims case (name both the manufacturer (for the warranty claim) and the merchant). You can sue for breach of contract and products liability (you can add additional causes of action for negligence against the service provider, and even a cause of action for fraud, but this is going to be harder as your injury is related to the malfunction not the lie).Short of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.You can also report the business to your state Attorney General. (You can find your attorney general's online consumer complaint division by doing an internet search for "[Your state] Attorney General Consumer Complaint." The Attorney General will not intervene to settle your specific dispute, but they can take administrative and criminal enforcement action against businesses violating the state's business and professions act.