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Brent Blanchard
Brent Blanchard, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1975
Experience:  Twelve years of experience in estate planning and probate, consumer bankruptcy, and business law.
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My situation is I had work performed on my vehicle by a

Customer Question

My situation is I had work performed on my vehicle by a mechanic shop. The part was purchased through a relative who works at an auto parts store and delivered with vehicle to mechanic shop. Shop had made repairs, part turned out to be defective and had
to be replaced. Mechanic shop took upon himself to send part back to auto part store, I never specified for him to do so by the way.When part was returned, relative at auto part store kept money for refund now claiming it was purchased under relatives auto
shop account, and relative is claiming I have an outstanding bill with his shop and he's not giving me my money. I have an issue with this supposed outstanding bill because it negates a debt owed by relative. What recourse or plan of action should I perform
to retrieve money from refunded parts?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brent Blanchard replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. Since no one else has picked this up, I will step in.

It is nearly impossible to tell what is up without something in writing detailing what the charges are and what they are for. I also cannot get into too much detail because the Terms of Service here do not allow me to practice law and give you legal advice for your specific situation.

But I have turned a wrench a LOT with my own vehicles, after "graduating" from helping my Dad for years.

Legally, I think your reference to "negating" a debt goes only as far as the dollars go. Warranty returns are nice, but if the customer does not also take a replacement unit, there is the possibility of a "restocking" fee when the retailer puts it back on the shelf instead of in the customer's hands. Sounds like the replacement part was ordered from somewhere else, so this sounds possible. Now I don't myself "believe in" restocking fees, especially when more than about 5%, but that's what the industry done.

Legally, the debt being connected to a relative is completely irrelevant.

Fact investigation is key in consumer disputes like this. You can't tell anything until you get it in writing. Text messages sometimes don't count, and when dealing with a "merchant" under the Uniform Commercial Code, we live and die by what's on the written invoice(s).

But putting something in writing does not make it true. Some charges are mistakes, and some are close to being made-up garbage.

So you have to see the invoice and what the charges are to begin negotiations.

This concludes from your question that the replacement part was ordered by the shop performing the repairs and a charge for it appeared on their bill:

1. No one legally should pay for the same thing twice (not the same as buying one, breaking it with no warranty coverage, and needing to buy a new one--those are two different things paid for and received.)

2. No one legally should get to charge money twice for the same thing.

3. No two "merchants" should be able to charge the same customer, separately, for the exact same item delivered for that customer's use. See number 1. above.

Unfortunately, the law and courts are a blunt, clumsy and time-consuming tool for any dispute less than $10,000 in my opinion. Small claims court it a little bit better, but you must have all your evidence in hand before showing up, AND be prepared to disprove any fabricated evidence the other person brings that day--but you don't get to see their evidence first. But before doing that, you need to look at your paperwork and see if you agreed to mediation or arbitration before going to court. THAT is a very common thing printed on the paperwork that SMART businesses have for their customers.

Thank you.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I guess where the problem lies....I called the auto parts store where my relative works to purchase the part, he decided to run it through his personal car shop business. I believe there more than likely would be a conflict of interest since he was on the clock for the auto parts store and doing personal business. Would I have some course of action against the shop that delivered the part back to the auto parts store for warranty refund without asking if they in fact were not instructed to do so? When I delivered the car, the part was in the trunk. WHo is at fault? My thought was reaching out to corporate and informing them that I called their store and one of their employees charged my card to there account rather than to the store's? I would really prefer not to , but its personal and I will not allow this relative to continue bullying me. I had an incident with said relative only 3 months ago where he went to jail for battery to me (domestic). So as you can see , this is more than just a confused bill with a shop. I'm just at the point were I'm tired of this person bullying me and causing me financial constraints given the opportunity. I would agree about lawsuits and small claims court. My problem I see there is I was never given a receipt to begin with. Is proving the call was made to the auto parts store my only hope? Or a written statement from shop that the part was delivered to the auto parts store for refund and he decided to pocket the refund? He delivered a bill with a deduction from the total amount , which none of the items on this bill ever approved. So basically saying he could present a bill for 60,000 if he really wanted to how can he validate it?
Expert:  Brent Blanchard replied 1 year ago.

No receipt? I'm afraid that you might have cheated yourself starting at the moment you didn't insist on getting that.

But you might be in luck and be able to get new evidence, admissible as hearsay "admissions of a party-opponent" which also conclusively proves WHAT was said, by recording a conversation or telephone call with each person involved in this morass. Illinois law forbids recordings in private places like bathrooms and tanning booths (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/26-4(a)) and a few other similar places, but is otherwise what is called a "one-party consent rule" state for recording face-to-face conversations and telephone calls. This is ONLY when both sides are IN the state.

I can only tell you what the law is, but the Terms of Service here don't let me advise you on WHAT to do. Among other things, this type of question doesn't give enough to let me research RECENT Illinois Supreme Court and Appeals court decisions to see if some judge has given some new interpretation of these laws (probably a half-hour of legal research needed for that).

When an employee has a side business, the traditional rules of employment and giving the business "first shot" at any "opportunities" presented are less strict than they are for a co-owner of the employing business. Co-owners and conflict of interest rules generally apply as is commonly thought, BUT that also includes a duty to the other owners to *inform* them of the opportunity--if the business declines to take the opportunity *after being given enough material facts about the potential deal*, then the co-owner is free to do business notwithstanding the apparent "conflict of interest". It's not as strict as it should be for politicians and public officials.

But for employees, that duty is much "lighter", depending on local state law. Most often, the situation will be governed by internal policies and procedures--I have seen companies that strictly forbid diverting business to the point that a worker could get fired for making one single side job involving the same business lines the employer is engaged in. Others only care about "on company time", and I have even seen a few that haven't bothered to put in ANY policy.

The bigger problem here, though your follow-up doesn't make it clear, is that it appears that maybe you are being asked to pay for the same part twice (by reason of being denied the refund).

If you are lucky, you paid for the first part with a check, credit card, or debit card, so the money is clearly traceable to you. Cash is king in my book, but ONLY if you get a receipt!

Please don't forget to give a positive rating so I can be compensated for my extensive work in this thread.

Bogus invoices can fall apart when a judge hears that person's own voice bragging about how they expect to get away with presenting falsified documents and perjured testimony if a dispute goes to court. Having a third party witness to your side of the conversation can help too, plus a printout from the cell phone company of the date, time and duration of the phone call.

Thank you.