The Money Pit and small claims court...

   #1  

rumble phish

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Who here has experience suing in small claims court? How did you end up collecting your judgement? I'm weighing options on whether or not small claims court is my best bet, or if I should employee more "persuasive" means of collection.

The issue at hand is that my Money Pit did not pas its smog inspection. It's running like a top and the owner of the smog shop even complimented me on how clean of a truck it is, so the issue is certainly not mechanical. So why didn't it pass, you ask? Some of you may recall that I used a local business to install a new exhaust system, including 4 new catalytic converters. At the time, there were major issues with the workmanship of the install, with hanger welds breaking (before I even got it home!) and leaks at many of the weld joints. I ended up taking it back the shop more than a half dozen times before they got it corrected (I'm using the term "corrected" very loosely).

Fast forward to yesterday, and the smog tech tells me that my truck has the wrong catalytic converters on it. Apparently the shop that installed them used converters for the wrong engine family. Because of this, it cannot pass the visual. Needless to say I am boiling mad. But what can I do? The shop is now under new ownership. I go directly to the new shop and speak to the Manager. They did step up and correct many of the leaks that the last shop owner left in my system, and they have a sign up that states that they honor all previous contracts and work from the last owner. This time they are looking at a complete refund or parts and labor to correct the issue. I paid $1270 for a full system, installed (4 cats, Flowmaster, dual exits and chrome slash cut tips. Now they are saying it's not their problem. I point to the sign on their counter stating that hey will honor all previous contracts and work. They hem and haw a bit and say they will contact the previous business owner, who happens to own the building. I do let them know that if this isn't taken care of to my satisfaction (a functioning exhaust that will pass smog and no money out of my pocket) that I'll be seeing them and/or the previous owner in court.


Sooo... here we are. I've only done small claims before when going after a client for the company I work for, never as an individual. I'm just tired at this point, and all I can do is laugh. What happens when you try to patronize a local business in a small town? You get fucked. That's what happens. :fu: :lol:
 
   #2  
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What more persuasive means can you reasonably expect to do?

Contact a lawyer, see what they say. They can start with a letter or call them direct to see what the shop says.

Otherwise raise hell in the shop and refuse to leave until they address your issue.
 
   #3  

BigGar

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I would say you've got a pretty cut and dried case against old owner, and new for that matter, and it seems like they both have the financial means to make things right, so pretty much the ball is in their court at this point. Not to mention the incendiary Yelp review that you will leave win or lose if this does go to court. I'm thinking that they will fix your problem without a whole lot more drama.
 
   #4  
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any lawyer is likely to explain to you that winning is completely different than collecting.

neither the judge nor the lawyer is going to force the guy to pay up. for $1200 bucks its not likely worth the time or effort for anything other than "standing up for whats right" etc.

the social media/review aspect is likely to cost them more than the disputed cost...and is likely to be more effective.
 
   #5  

BigBusa

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Figure out how much in total dollars you're out... that you can easily prove and that a judge would likely award you a judgement for. Then ask yourself if it's worth the time and effort to get that judgement in court AND THEN is it worth the time and effort to try to get the blood from the stone. Having a judgement and getting paid are two different things sadly.

I'd almost say yeah... go get that judgement. Make the asshole sweat. Inconvenience him a little at least. Getting the judgement is fairly easy and inexpensive... at least in NY it was ($15 to file). If they don't show and they probably won't, you win by default and at least you'll feel a bit better about getting screwed. You probably never get a dime but you did what was right.

You don't NEED a lawyer to file and win in small claims.

Also, do you have a consumer advocate at one of your local TV news stations? We have one here better call harry If you get them onboard, no small-time local muffler shop is going to want to be part of a news story where they refused to make a job right. That would KILL their business. Threaten them with that instead of small claims court.

This spring, I had an 8 foot wide sliding glass door installed by home depot. The job was botched from day one. They showed up with the 300+lb door, dragged it through the house, across a custom concrete floor and then told me it was the wrong size and they couldn't install it. They dragged it back across the floor and took it back to home depot. A week later another crew comes back with the same door and installs it but with issues. Everyone refuses to do anything to fix the situation. I call our home owners (allstate) and they pay to fix the floor and go after HD for the $1000 deductible which they get and pay to us. FREE FLOOR REFINISH THANK YOU. Then, after a lot of back and forth, I get HD to refund the entire amount of the door and installation because of all the bullshit and issues we went through. FREE DOOR THANK YOU.

What made them agree to that refund was me telling them I had contacted the news media and they were coming out to do a story about it. And I had.
 
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   #6  
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rumble phish

rumble phish

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What more persuasive means can you reasonably expect to do?

Contact a lawyer, see what they say. They can start with a letter or call them direct to see what the shop says.

Otherwise raise hell in the shop and refuse to leave until they address your issue.
Yeah, none really. What I want to do would just make things worse (for me). Contacting lawyers will end up costing me more than just going to another shop and having them fix the issue. $1270 probably isn't worth it for them, but I'll call a couple and find out.

I would say you've got a pretty cut and dried case against old owner, and new for that matter, and it seems like they both have the financial means to make things right, so pretty much the ball is in their court at this point. Not to mention the incendiary Yelp review that you will leave win or lose if this does go to court. I'm thinking that they will fix your problem without a whole lot more drama.
I hope so, but these local shops don't seem to give as much of a shit about Yelp or FB or Twitter reviews as do larger corporations/chains. We're talking about Jesus, Manuel and Jose running a shop in a town of about 5000 folks, over half of which are Hispanic (and probably half of the half are related to each other! :lol: )
 
   #7  
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rumble phish

rumble phish

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any lawyer is likely to explain to you that winning is completely different than collecting.

neither the judge nor the lawyer is going to force the guy to pay up. for $1200 bucks its not likely worth the time or effort for anything other than "standing up for whats right" etc.

the social media/review aspect is likely to cost them more than the disputed cost...and is likely to be more effective.
Figure out how much in total dollars you're out... that you can easily prove and that a judge would likely award you a judgement for. Then ask yourself if it's worth the time and effort to get that judgement in court AND THEN is it worth the time and effort to try to get the blood from the stone. Having a judgement and getting paid are two different things sadly.

I'd almost say yeah... go get that judgement. Make the asshole sweat. Inconvenience him a little at least. Getting the judgement is fairly easy and inexpensive... at least in NY it was ($15 to file). If they don't show and they probably won't, you win by default and at least you'll feel a bit better about getting screwed. You probably never get a dime but you did what was right.

You don't NEED a lawyer to file and win in small claims.
A lawyer would really only be for "show". A little "scare tactic". You're both correct, no lawyers in small claims. Getting the judgement will be easy. Like you both said, it's getting him to pay that's the trick. At this point, I don't really WANT any money. I just want a working, leak free exhaust that'll pass smog.
 
   #10  

BigBusa

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A lawyer would really only be for "show". A little "scare tactic". You're both correct, no lawyers in small claims. Getting the judgement will be easy. Like you both said, it's getting him to pay that's the trick. At this point, I don't really WANT any money. I just want a working, leak free exhaust that'll pass smog.
I edited my post again. Call your local TV news consumer advocate. And then threaten the muffler shop with that info. They do not want to be on TV. ;) In reality, it wouldn't cost them but a few hundred bucks to fix your exhaust. They're just being assholes.
 
   #11  
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rumble phish

rumble phish

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Da , neva endin,,,,, story... :dash2:

Part,,,,,,, 37 ? :eek:
Ya know, if it were an issue with the truck itself i wouldn't be so upset. Shit happens and it can always be fixed. What pisses me off here is that this was just plain laziness and negligence on the shop's part. I can't abide by that.

1575403672609.png
 
   #12  

CZLoco

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Take a picture of that sign before they get tired of you and remove it :D
 
   #13  

maui

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if you're only looking for $1270, you need to keep your time/cost down. A lawyer is not the way to do it.

Send a certified letter, be really professional, lay out what you've been told. In the letter give them the exact instructions on what you most want to do to rectify the situation. Sounds like a refund. Keep it simple.

Write it in a way that you'd want a judge to read it and say yes, give the nice man his money. Include in the letter copies of any and all receipts or policies.

BE COURTEOUS IN YOUR LETTER !

When you write a letter like that you slant things in your favor as much as possible with out being dishonest. Then you have somewhat of a paper trail. If they don't answer your letter, you may have a small advantage.

if/when you go to court, you can introduce the letter.

It should be pretty easy to get a judgement. Collecting is an entirely separate deal.
 
   #15  

Terry_Schiavo

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small claims kind of sucks. You have the galoot size to cast a shadow over the desk to get them to do what you need. Just work on your body language and be prepared to throw down...lol
 
   #16  

Terry_Schiavo

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also in regards to BBs dilemma... aint no way Im letting subs drag shit through the house or demo until they verify. Seen too much of that... for what? A $10 savings??
 
   #17  

DungBeatle

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I won in small claims court but could never get the person to pay, then he moved and I'd have to hire a PI to find him. Gave up.
 
   #18  

Pat830

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Female friend of mine lives in an apartment style condo. Everybody shares a parking lot in front of the condo building. Car parked next to hers, the door was flung open and put a large dent in the door of my friends car. She just happened to have a security cam pointed at the lot from her condo window because of past petty theft issues and caught the person on video doing the damage. She asked for the damage to be repaired, the person refused so they ended up in small claims court. There was a judgement against the person that caused the damage, which has never been paid. When they were walking out of the court, the person that caused the damage and her boyfriend punched my friend a few times causing a black eye, swollen lip etc. They went to jail. I wonder if the judgement went onto their credit report as an unpaid debt?

They've since moved on.
 
   #19  

DungBeatle

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Oh, and my guy, his wages were garnished so he quit his fucking job rather than pay me.
 
   #20  

maui

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as I mentioned...trying to collect is an entirely different deal.

it's why people turn to collection agencies at a 50% rate and consider it a good deal.
 
   #21  
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I am currently suing a former landlord for withholding my deposit.

Apparently she refused to be served notice to appear.

Will keep people updated.
 
   #22  

Stetson

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I'd watch this episode if you can get it on Judge Judy.
 
   #23  

DungBeatle

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I am currently suing a former landlord for withholding my deposit.
Apparently she refused to be served notice to appear.
Will keep people updated.
One landlord I had refused to refund my deposit. I took him to court. At the last second he paid me but refused to pay my lawyer. So I ended up in court as a witness for my lawyer! Hahaha! He got fucked...
 
   #24  

Terry_Schiavo

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as I mentioned...trying to collect is an entirely different deal.
it's why people turn to collection agencies at a 50% rate and consider it a good deal.
that seems optimistic... 15-20% would be more realistic. Also a $15 filing fee for small claims?? Not even in Mayberry. Id say closer to tree fiddy by the time you enlist the Process Server.
 
   #25  

Snail

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Do this,write a letter like Maui suggested x but add teeth. In Oregon we call it s letter of demand. You demand you demand to be paid or you will seek legal council and attach attorney fees.

It might work.
 
   #27  

Snail

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How old is the complaint, from original install ?
 
   #28  

Rhino

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That really sucks man.. the jeep just passed inspection after replacing a cat back exhaust.
 
   #31  
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rumble phish

rumble phish

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How old is the complaint, from original install ?
The original install was done on 12/11/19, so it has been just under a year. I took it back twice the day it was installed because the rear hangers broke at the welds (these were THE worst welds I have ever seen!). I took it back again about a month after the initial install to correct the rear hangers again. Then I took it back about 3 months ago to correct leaks that had developed at the welds for the cats (this repair was done by the new shop owner). I was about to take it back for a leak near the driver's side manifold collector (small leak when cold, seals up once it gets a little heat in it), but I wanted to get it smogged first. And now, here I am... :confused2:
 
   #32  
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Just because the new owner claims to stand behind the old owner's work does not make him legally obligated to do so......IMO, but he also may have screwed himself by working on it already.

If the place is an "inc." you stand a better chance if you would win. They usually pay up.
 
   #33  

Rocco

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Who here has experience suing in small claims court?


Do you have a consumer protection branch in your state Attorney Generals Office? I have used our AG consumer complaint option twice and won both times. I got the same wins, as the two times I have used small claims court and without any fees. As it played out, It was apparent to me that each business did not like getting a call from the legal arm of the state .
 
   #34  

Stetson

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Just explain to them that somebody sold and installed the incorrect emissions equipment, which is certainly a violation of federal law, and likely state as well, and you'll report them to whatever licensing agency it is who fucks businesses that do that. Especially if they removed the OEM cats during the install. Someone likely made an honest mistake at some point, ordering parts, and now they have to step up to it. No need for small claims if you can convince them you can get the State after them. No business owner wants the state looking at them.
 
   #36  

Vegas12

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I looked up the requirements.....as long as the cats have a CARB #, you should be fine.

You're over 5 years old, cat doesn't have to be vehicle 'pecific. (last paragraph)


CALIFORNIA (Effective 1/1/2009) 
CARB-compliant aftermarket replacement converters are required for any vehicle operated in the state. 
CALIFORNIA-COMPLIANT INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS 
Effective January 1, 2009, new aftermarket catalytic converters sold or installed in California must meet the following requirements:

  • Be labeled or tagged with a CARB EO (Executive Order) number indicating the converter complies with California’s requirements for aftermarket converters.
  • Be installed only on applications listed in the manufacturer’s Vehicle Application Catalog and per CARB’s Installation Guidelines.
  • Be warranted for 5 years/50,000 miles, and cover the cost of parts and labor.
  • Be compatible with OBD catalyst monitors used on newer vehicles. This includes making sure converters won't cause false catalyst codes, while also making sure that the OBD system will continue to set a catalyst fault code if the aftermarket converter fails.

    NOTE: CARB permits any aftermarket converter to be installed on vehicles older than 5 years and for which the OE emission warranty has expired. 
 
   #41  
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rumble phish

rumble phish

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I looked up the requirements.....as long as the cats have a CARB #, you should be fine.

You're over 5 years old, cat doesn't have to be vehicle 'pecific. (last paragraph)


CALIFORNIA (Effective 1/1/2009) 
CARB-compliant aftermarket replacement converters are required for any vehicle operated in the state. 
CALIFORNIA-COMPLIANT INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS 
Effective January 1, 2009, new aftermarket catalytic converters sold or installed in California must meet the following requirements:

  • Be labeled or tagged with a CARB EO (Executive Order) number indicating the converter complies with California’s requirements for aftermarket converters.
  • Be installed only on applications listed in the manufacturer’s Vehicle Application Catalog and per CARB’s Installation Guidelines.
  • Be warranted for 5 years/50,000 miles, and cover the cost of parts and labor.
  • Be compatible with OBD catalyst monitors used on newer vehicles. This includes making sure converters won't cause false catalyst codes, while also making sure that the OBD system will continue to set a catalyst fault code if the aftermarket converter fails.

    NOTE: CARB permits any aftermarket converter to be installed on vehicles older than 5 years and for which the OE emission warranty has expired. 
Can you point me to the website where you c'n'pd this from?
 
   #44  

Stetson

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Just take it to an emissions inspector who isn't a dickhead.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I have left a 12 pack of the inspection mechanic's favorite beer on the passenger seat before, when taking in one of my many shitboxes for the annual inspection. YMMV. :ducmanic:
 
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