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Author Topic: Small claims court worth it? Need advice.  (Read 1240 times)
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Sam Hell
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« on: July 13, 2005, 06:47:05 PM »

My vehicle developed a coolant leak so I took it to the dealership fully expecting my warranty to cover it, it's a 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor.

They verified that, yes, it was covered but it would take a couple days to get the parts in to repair it. I called the morning the parts were suppose to arrive to again verify that the warranty covered everything and again they said that it would be completely taken care of.

The phone rings 3 hours later and they say that the warranty didn't cover any of it after all, but they did the work anyway and now I owe them $650.

To that I say WTF?!?!?!?


I have a bro-in-law who is the service manager at a Mitsub. dealership on the east coast and he verified with me that they cover under warranty the exact same thing that happened to my vehicle. The lovely dealership that I get to work with disagrees and refuses to budge.
I won't go into detail, but the problem stems from a poor design in the front end that makes the truck very prone to road damage (rocks and shit) to the coolant system.

Disregarding the questionable warranty crap, they performed a repair on my vehicle that was unauthorized my me. I verbally authorized warranty work. Nothing else. I signed NOTHING when I dropped the truck off with them.

They were kind enough to offer to put the faulty radiator back in  :roll: but the fact remains that they were in my vehicle without permission disassembling things.
I coughed up the $650 after reaming them fuckers a new one right in the lobby but am considering court to recoup my cash. Not real sure how I'm gonna pay rent this month....

Anyway, my bro-in-law said he could provide me with copies of invoices from warranty work he did on vehicles with this exact problem. Shit, he said an old lady destroyed her engine because of this issue and they went ahead and replaced it. The whole engine, new...free.

All this took place between July 1 and July 8. We had to cancel 4th of July plans because of a lack of a vehicle. Yes, they failed to provide me and my family of 4 a loaner or rental. I found out later that the warrnaty stipulates that a rental or loaner is required by them to be provided if they need to keep the vehicle over 24 hours. They had it a freakin' week.
 
Sorry about the long post but I'm at my wits end and need advice. Is small claims court a viable route? Or will it be a waste of time and money?
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Blackadar
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2005, 09:37:37 PM »

Simple question:  How did you pay the bill?
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Sam Hell
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2005, 09:47:07 PM »

What was rent money turned into car repair money.
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Turtle
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2005, 10:46:16 PM »

Mr. Fed?

How far up the chain did you talk to?

Legal methods, or at least the threat of it may be enough to get them to refund the money.  They may be stiffing you for the cost, then filing a warranty claim from the manufacturer anyway to get more money.

Definitely need to talk to a lawyer, you might be able to get more than the $650 back for the ruining of plans and such.

I mean, it is all clearly spelled out in the warranty.
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Dafones
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2005, 11:43:55 PM »

It hurts you that there wasn't anything signed regarding insured repairs, but it hurts them more that there wasn't anything written to authorize the repairs that they did. I'd say you have a case. The fact that they didn't supply you with a car during the repairs helps you out - if they in fact HAD to provide you with one. Inform them that you intend on taking legal action if they refuse to refund your money, and state that you will include any legal fees in your suit.

Most importantly though, call ALL of your friends and ask them if they know any lawyers that you could call, off the books, to see if you have a viable case. The way you have portrayed it, I would think you do. But then I am not a laywer.
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2005, 02:45:46 AM »

You could also go to Mitsubishi Corp. and get them to investigate to see if a warranty claim came in on your VIN. I don't think they're allowed to hide that info from you. You may even be up to chase down Mits as this is an authorized warranty shop. I'd check to see how the corp will handle it, 650 is a pittance to having their name dragged through the mud, and when arguably it isn't their 650 to begin with.
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Sam Hell
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2005, 03:54:08 AM »

I should elaborate on the dealerships refusal to honor the warranty.
On the Mitsubishi Endeavor, Lancer and one other model the front bottom part of the grill sports a huge opening. Directly behind that hole is the radiator. No protection whatsoever. A piss poor design.


Here's a visual aid.

This is an issue that Mitsub. is fully aware of. I know from the  freakin' service manager at Mitsubishi's largest dealership in the US that this is a commonplace occurance. They see these almost daily, and repair them by doing  "good will" warranty work. Meaning they know of the issue and are doing what they can to rectify it, even though technically it isn't covered by the warranty because the damage occured from an impact, outside force.

I have learned that Mitsub. splits the US into 4 regions assiging a person to each region to be the "big guy" for all the dealerships in their respective zones. The guy on the east coast says cover it. The guy in the midwest (mine) says no way.

I think my best angle in a court would be the unauthorized repair done.
I did call Mitsub. HQ and talked to some people their and, while friendly, they would not agree that it was a warranty issue. They were, however, very concerned that they performed the repairs w/o authorization. But in the end they said it's an issue betwwen me and the dealership.

This seems like a recall that is being delayed as long as possible, or avoided completely.
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2005, 12:36:21 PM »

I'd say go with the unauthorized angle to get your 650, and see if you can drum up support across your country with Mits owners (who've gone through the hassle) to get the problem fixed from Mits. I'd agree that this is a recall waiting to happen.

They should be adding protection, as you're going to go through the same hassle in the next 3 years, for sure.

Here are the only 3 recalls I could find with your Endeavor (Within Canada):
1. brake pedal cable lock nut
2. the retaining bolts that attach the propeller shaft to the center bearing flange
3. rear foot of the driver's side seat bracket may develop a crack

You could also check out www.alldata.com for service bulletins that never hit the "recall" status. (link goes to 2005 Endeavor info)
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Blackadar
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2005, 05:28:39 PM »

Quote from: "Sam Hell"
What was rent money turned into car repair money.


No no no...

Cash?  Charge card?  Debit card?
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Sam Hell
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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2005, 05:46:45 PM »

Quote from: "Blackadar"
Quote from: "Sam Hell"
What was rent money turned into car repair money.


No no no...

Cash?  Charge card?  Debit card?


Ahh, sorry smile

Cash, personal check actually. Why?
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Dafones
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« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2005, 06:58:33 PM »

Would you care to get a little nasty and call up a local television news channel to see if they would care to cover the matter, and rile up the repair shop?
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« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2005, 07:40:36 PM »

Quote from: "Dafones"
Would you care to get a little nasty and call up a local television news channel to see if they would care to cover the matter, and rile up the repair shop?

Now there's an idea. Most TV channels would love to do something like this, as they love showing negative things to viewers. biggrin

Too bad it wasn't paid for via credit card though - the CC company could hold your payment while you got this settled.
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Blackadar
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2005, 08:26:14 PM »

Quote from: "Sam Hell"
Quote from: "Blackadar"
Quote from: "Sam Hell"
What was rent money turned into car repair money.


No no no...

Cash?  Charge card?  Debit card?


Ahh, sorry smile

Cash, personal check actually. Why?


If there's time, I'd probably put a stop payment on the check IMMEDIATELY.  Then I would call them back, tell them I didn't authorize them to do the work and that I'm willing to discuss paying for part of the job, but that I am not going to pay for all the work.  Let them know you've put a stop payment on the check, that you feel you were taken advantage of, that you did not authorize the work but that you are willing to discuss the matter.

Quite often in these dispute cases, the Judge will make the owner pay the parts cost and the shop has to pay the labor.  That's what I'd aim for.  If they refuse and threaten you, I'd write a certified letter stating as much (you're willing to pay the cost of the parts) and send it to them.  That way if they haul you in small claims court, you can provide a copy of the letter as proof that you were trying to negotiate.
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walTer
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« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2005, 10:37:28 PM »

Not sure if this was answered but-

at least in Califorinia Small Claims is a breeze.

Anywhere from 12-20 bucks, get someone to serve the shop  and you are in court in usually less than 30 days.

They told  you it was warranty, then they charged you-- I believe that that a shop is required by law to provide a written estimate BEFORE repairs are done and you must sign it.

You are entitled as well to all your out of pocket expenses incurred- and that might include any loss of money from plans lost over the 4th of July.

California allows you to sue for 5000 dollars and often you get your decision on the spot.

It is very easy process and most courts provide as Small Claims service that helps you fill out the simple paperwork and gives you advice on serving etc...
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El Guapo
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« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2005, 10:48:32 PM »

Yeah, I would be inclined to say go for it.  Maybe talk to a couple lawyer friends if you have some handy, or maybe see if you can a free consultation with a local lawyer.

But I would at least ask around at the local small claims court.  I suspect that if you say "I've filed a claim in court" that they would be much more willing to negotiate.
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