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Infolawyer, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 6805
Experience:  Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses.
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I've landed myself in a terrible situation with some crooked

Customer Question

I've landed myself in a terrible situation with some crooked car mechanics and could really use some sound legal advice on what is the best next step(s).
About two weeks ago, my car broke down late at night on the freeway as I was driving up from Los Angeles (I live in the San Francisco Bay Area). I had the car picked up and taken to Devons Body Shop and Towing Services, took a train home and decided that I would have the car towed up to Northern California and have a local car guy fix it near my house.
On Friday 4/22, I arranged to have Devons tow the car. AAA would cover up to 200 miles and I would pay for the remainder of the trip (at $8/mile, it would total amount to around 500 bucks). At around 9:45am, I received a call from AAA saying that the order was dispatched and that the car was about to be towed, and they would call me once they arrived so that I could fill out the papers and claim the car.
I waited all day by the phone and I heard nothing from them, even though I made that the ringer was turned on. Eventually I got ahold of Devons and they said that the driver apparently did take the car up there and attempted to reach me, but I didn't pick up the phone. They also said that AAA tried to call me and I never answered. So they drove the car back down and wanted to bill me $2000 for it. I checked my AT&T history and there was no record whatsoever of any missed calls from them. I'm not saying that they were lying about having tried to reach me. According to AT&T, cell phones can periodically drop off the network without the owner knowing it, which is why a call could automatically go straight to voicemail. But it's not like my phone was turned off or the battery was dead; I legimately didn't receive notification. Ultimately it just isn't fair that I should pay so much money for a service that I didn't receive. I shouldn't be held responsible for an error on AT&T's behalf. Also I think it is totally unprofessional of them to not have even tried to get ahold anyone else before resorting to such an extreme measure. Both of my parents' phone numbers are linked to my AAA account; why couldn't they have called them? Or, why couldn't AAA just have sent me a text message? I've gotten text updates from them in the past.
I called up AAA and they said that they indeed did have a record of having tried to call me. However, they recognized that I was denied the service and agreed to erase the call (you get to place 4 phone calls a year) and restore 200 miles back to my account. Upon hearing this news, Devons decided to add the cost of those 200 miles onto my bill (because AAA wasn't going to be paying for it) and combined with storage fees and such, they now want to charge me 5 grand for the release of my car!!!!!
I'm not quite sure what to do in the midst of this fiasco. How should I proceed? I thought about seeing a lawyer but that would just be far too expensive. Should I take this to a small claims court? If so, what should I accuse them of? I'm pretty sure that these people are trying to play me and they're banking on the fact that because I live 5 hours away, it would be super inconvenient to fight them. Also what worries me about a court case is the fact that it would take so long for it all to unfold. I'm guessing it would probably be months, and in the meantime, they are going to keep adding to the bill for every single day it's in their tow yard. Is there any way that a judge could make them reverse these charges? I honestly should not have to owe them for anything more than the amount of time they held it up until 4/22.
I thought about simply giving them the car in exchange for eliminating that outrageous bill. But it just doesn't seem right that they should be rewarded for their extortion with a free car.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Infolawyer replied 1 year ago.
are you asking about options pursuing a claim against the mechanic?

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