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I took my Harley Davidson into a local repair shop that I have

worked with many time with...
I took my Harley Davidson into a local repair shop that I have worked with many time with in the past to have it disassembled so that I could take the fenders, saddle bars, gas tank, and other covers to a professional painter in a nearby town to have painted. After getting it painted (a beautiful job of custom painting by the way) I took those parts back to them to have it reassembled, which they did I fine job of (except the shocks were not adjusted as they were before). Then one week later I took it back to them to have some other work done on it: having a tire replaced on the rear, having the shocks properly adjusted, and having both head gaskets replaced. The day I was supposed to pick the bike up again, I got an ominous phone call from the owner asking me to come down to the shop right away! When I got there I was totally blown away by what I was shown. The brand new custom paint job I had just had done on it was ruined: that is, one side of the gas tank was completely ruined. The art work on that side of the tank needed to be completely redone, as did the base paint on that whole side of the gas tank!

They claimed "no responsibility"! They put it all off on the painter. What they had admitted doing was taking off the gas tank (full of gas) and placing on a rag on a shelf overnight (leaning to one side, towards the gas cap). Gas seeped out around the gas cap, ran down over the gas tank on that one side, and puddled up on the rag below it, thereby causing gas to get under the paint fro both the top (around the gas cap) and the bottom (from the puddle of gas on the rag). Long story short, gas got under that whole side of my new paint job and ruined it.

The painter has been painting motor cycles and cars for 35 years. He said anyone in the business knows that a new paint job takes 4-10 weeks to completely cure, and that during that time gasoline (or other solvents) must be wiped off the paint immediately, or it can ruin the paint job. The repair shop "their expert painter disagrees).

I am supposed to pick up my motorcycle in 75 minutes (one they get the tank back on). I don't know what to do. Some have told me "write them a check, then go directly to your bank and stop payment on your check". Others have said "use your Debit Card, go to your bank and dispute the charge". Unless I give them some sort of payment they will not release my Harley to me. I do owe them some money. The total bill I will owe them will be in excess of $900.00, but it cost me $550.00 to get the damage they caused repaired. I am totally prepared to pay them the difference, but why should I be out $550.00 for damage they caused.

My concern is a "Mechanics Lien", which I am sure you are familiar with. Any repair shop may retain possession of a vehicle they repair until they are paid in full. So, if I stop payment on a check I use to pay them with, can they repossess my vehicle? Or, if I do the same with a Debit Card?

I am willing to negotiate with them, but I don't think they are willing to. I would much rather they have to take me to Small Claims court, than I them (there is a whole lot of paper work involved). I know I would win in court, because the paint cans say right on them the paint needs to cure, and I have to professional painters who are willing to testify to the affect.

Help!!!! I have one hour now to decide how best to deal with this situation!!!!!!
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Answered in 11 minutes by:
4/23/2013
Dimitry K., Esq.
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
Experience: Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
Verified

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

What you are describing is considered to be 'negligence', that is, the shop owed you a duty to maintain the motorcycle and the parts in working order, they failed in that duty, and directly based on their cause of action, you suffered injury. Consequently they would be completely responsible for replacement costs, or in this case the costs for the repainting.

Now, stopping payment is not a wise option. That is both check fraud and a license to get them to pursue you for fraud, damages, and a lien. What would be wiser is to NOT sign anything claiming satisfaction, giving them notice of the costs, taking images of the damage, obtaining an estimate for the work, and then pursuing them for that amount. If they fail to pay, take them to small claims for the costs.

As an aside I happen to be a rider myself and am frankly horrified at the ineptitude of this shop. I am genuinely sorry to hear it was so damaged. Getting it repaired is their responsibility, not yours. Get the cost estimate from the other painter, then send them the bill, and if they refuse to pay, take them to court for the damages that they caused by their own comments.

Good luck and please keep the shiny side up.

Dimitry K., Esq.
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
Experience: Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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Dimitry K., Esq. and 87 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I think you gave me very good advice, however when I contacted the California Bureau of Automotive Repair to file a complaint against them, they said I should report it to them first and that they would send out an investigator, which would bolster my case in Small Claims Court. Should I follow their advice?

Thank you for your follow-up, Steven. You are most welcome!

It is not a bad suggestion on their part. In essence going to court should be the last resort after all other options have been tried. Making a complaint is a good idea if the complaint ends up being investigated and their liability is found. However the issue here is timing; their investigation may take a few months. If you are willing to wait, then great. Otherwise taking them to small claims can get this resolved hopefully in about 2 months or as soon as the case can be placed on docket. Either option is legitimate, it all depends on whether you want to get this resolved quicker or not.

Hope that helps and please enjoy the riding season!

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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq.
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Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
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