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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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I live in. I bought a rebuilt boat engine from a dealer in

Customer Question

I live in Virginia. I bought a rebuilt boat engine from a dealer in Florida and paid by credit card. It came with a 2 year warranty. My Mercury-certified mechanic installed the engine. After running for less than 1 hour it developed a clicking sound. The mechanic advised me not to accept the engine. I called the dealer. He said ship it back with all the parts we added (alternator, pumps, manifolds, etc) still attached. We did. He has had the engine for 1 month. Each time I call about it he has a different story. He says "they are working on it", "it will ship tomorrow" etc, but it never gets done. I have $6000 invested and no engine and no idea if or when I will have. Do I have any recourse other than just wait and hope? ***** *****
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I am sorry to learn about this situation.

There is a series of escalating things you can do to deal with this situation. (Some of these you have already done, but I am putting all of them together for you as they work together, you in no way are required to do each step, but they do give you some flexibility as each one requires more time, effort, and resources than the one preceding it).

  • *First: start with the company's customer service and dispute the matter. You say that you have a series of phone calls, make sure to 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:
  • *Fourth: if you believe that the company is acting fraudulently, 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. You can file both with the FL and the VA AGs.
  • *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.
  • 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. (This option is especially helpful when you are working across state lines, most mediators can work with you to set something up telephonically to save you the cost and expense of travelling).

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.

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