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Others w/ Probs w/ Magnum Collision/Performance Auto Collis. trying to steal your car? (Atlanta, GA)

Discussion in 'Ferrari Discussion (not model specific)' started by 911&F430, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    Just curious if anyone else here has had problems with predatory business practices by Magnum Collision/Performance Auto Collision in Georgia where they bill you for things that you never authorized and hold your car hostage unless you pay the "ransom" (almost $9,000). Then if you don't pay the ransom they will actually file for a lien to take the title to your car. (This is basically a scam to trap you once they have your car.) And if so how you dealt with it.

    Thanks in advance. More details below if interested:

    -Took my car to Magnum Collision.
    -Their intake paperwork said that you pay when you pick up your car.
    -After the estimate they led me to believe parts for my car repair had been ordered.
    -A month and a half after dropping off the car they started asking me to pay them up front.
    -This was a red flag as it represented a change in terms after they'd had my car for 1.5 months.
    -After going back and forth with them on this concern they eventually straight up said parts had not been ordered and would not be ordered unless I paid at least 60% of the bill up front. At this point they'd had my car for two months and done nothing more than some disassembly to inspect and a repair estimate.
    -Their changing of terms in a big way after having my car for two months made it obvious that I could not trust them.
    -After some due diligence I found another shop that seemed more ethical.
    -I went to Magnum Collision to retrieve my car but they refused to let me have my car and then sent me a bill for almost $9,000 in charges which had never been previously discussed and to which I had never agreed.
    -They were trying to charge for storage at $100/day from the date that I dropped the car off. This contradicts their sign in their office explaining their storage policies. By the terms on their sign I should not be billed any storage as my car does not fall into either of the two categories they list. Their sign also says $40/day, not $100/day. The fraudulent storage charges are most of the bill total. The rest is a nonsense "admin fee" and a tear down fee.

    I have included a photo of their storage policy sign.

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  3. energy88

    energy88 F1 World Champ
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    I would think that the Attorney General and some of the local TV stations would be interested in this if found to be widespread. I would also think that there would be state laws about written estimates for auto repairs that they might be running afoul of. Sorry for the hassle they are giving you.
     
  4. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    I did file a complaint with the AG. Haven't heard back yet.
    Local news is a good idea. Shine a light on this predatory behaviour by dishonest Magnum Collision.
     
  5. daytona355

    daytona355 F1 World Champ
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    Mar 25, 2009
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    Spare key, friend to run interference...... car comes home. Shame I don’t live near you buddy
     
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  6. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    Haha, yes, London is a bit far. From asking around the local community it seems this dishonest shop is very practiced at holding car owners property against their will so they probably wouldn't fall for that one. It's good for a chuckle though. ;-)

    Do collision repair shops in the UK run scams like this on unsuspecting car owners?
     
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  8. daytona355

    daytona355 F1 World Champ
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    they do try similar... it depends on the type of person you are as to what liberties they try to take... for me, they tend to deliver the cars back to me without a murmur, but that’s just because I’m extremely intense and they know what to expect if they tried to screw me.
     
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  9. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    That's good. In general they aren't too bad here either, but Magnum Collision/Performance Auto Collision (same ownership, same area manager) is probably the most unethical business I've ever encountered in my whole life.

    With other shops you just need to document the mileage at drop off to make sure they aren't joyriding in your car, pay attention to make sure you aren't being sold stuff you don't really need, etc. Then once you find a good, honest shop you can just stick with them. Magnum is a whole other story though.
     
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  10. anunakki

    anunakki Five Time F1 World Champ
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    Assuming your story is accurate (that caveat goes for anyones story) thats some of the more brazen BS Ive heard lately. Hope you can stick it to them
     
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  11. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    I wish it wasn't true, but unfortunately it is. And, yes, it's pretty brazen.

    There seem to be a couple instances of fraudulent misrepresentation here. First is the intake paperwork that says payment is due when the customer picks up their finished car. Then after having the car for 1.5 to 2 months (only having done a tear down and estimate) telling the customer they have to pay up front.

    Second is the sign of which I shared a photo in my original post which clearly lists two conditions under which storage would be due at a rate of $40/day. Neither of those conditions applied to my car, yet they billed $100/day (not $40) for storage from the very first day when I dropped off my car. It seemed they were just angry that I wanted to take my car elsewhere and chose to vindictively exploit the situation instead of acting like professionals.

    In the first instance, where they've had your car for a couple months and then say you have to pay up front contrary to their intake paperwork: when you tell them you are taking your car elsewhere, if they allow you to reclaim your property you have still been harmed by Magnum Collision. This is b/c they have deprived you of your special property for two months. You are no closer to being back on the road and will have to start all over with the repair.

    In the second instance, if they choose to be even more malicious and hold your car hostage demanding payment of a fraudulent bill (a bill never even mentioned until you came to recover your car despite them knowing you were looking for an alternate shop) and if they threaten to use the fraudulent bill to take your car from you (pretty blatant stealing if you ask me) then you would be harmed financially if you choose to pay the fraudulent bill, harmed by further deprivation of your property until such time as you pay the fraudulent bill and you could be deprived of your very special property FOREVER if they succeed at "stealing" your car.
     
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  13. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    One other thing to beware of when choosing a collision repair shop for any special car you have (this didn't happen to the Ferrari, thank goodness): one reason I took the Porsche to Magnum Collision (obviously didn't know how unethical they are at the time) was b/c they were a Porsche Approved Collision Center. When Magnum started to show their true colors, since they were a PACC, I made Porsche aware of Magnum's unethical practices. Porsche's response was that they couldn't do anything b/c PACC are independent businesses and it also turns out there is not an ethics requirement to be a PACC. So Porsche could not say that by being unethical Magnum had violated a requirement to be a PACC. It seems qualifying as a PACC relates mainly to staff training and equipment. This type of situation may or may not exist with other manufacturers but keep in mind that just b/c a shop has a certification from a manufacturer DOESN'T mean they have met any kind of requirement for ethical business practices.
    Related side note: the manager of deceptive Magnum Collision has been saying on the Better Business Bureau website and social media that Porsche agreed with them when in fact Porsche just said they couldn't do anything about it.
     
  14. INRange

    INRange F1 Veteran
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    Jan 27, 2014
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    First, I'm sorry that you are going through this but a few items raise red flags.

    -It would appear that an insurance company is not involved in this repair.

    -The extent of the repair is significant enough for them to request up front payment for parts. If an insurance company is involved....progress payments are worked out directly with the insurance company. In your case.....it would appear that they were looking to you to fund the parts.

    -Storage costs. Those vary all over the map. I agree that their sign said $40 a day and that they would have to defend why they increased it for you. Sometimes repair facilities require higher amounts for cars that they must store in doors (exotics and other expensive vehicles). That swings the walk away amount from $2,600 to $6,000 just for storage.

    -Tear down costs. Charging you $3k to tear it down AND put is back together comes back to the damage they were dealing with. Without some insight....they are implying that they spent 30 hours or so taking the car apart and putting it back together.....basically two days of work to take it apart and two days of work to put it back together.


    Nothing stops you from walking in with a check for $5k (Storage plus tear down/reassembly) and getting your car. I'm would be surprised if they didn't take the money especially if you have cash. The alternative is to hire a lawyer and take them to small claims court. The meter will continue to run on storage costs. The lawyer may be able to mitigate some of that for you but in the end....you still will be stuck with around $5k for the Magnum, court costs and a lawyer. If you can substantiate that Magnum has a history of predatory practices and get some other aggrieved parties involved you might have a better outcome.

    It comes down to what your time is worth.
     
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  15. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta

    Thank you for your post. Those are good things to ask about. A lot of what they did might make sense if not for the deceptive way Magnum Collision approached it. Although if they told me when I dropped off the car that they would want payment up front I would have left and looked for a different shop.
    I tried to make my original post as short and concise as possible but am happy to provide more detail to try to address the things you mentioned:

    - My insurance sent me a check to cover the initial estimate and instructed me not to pay until the work was satisfactorily completed. This made perfect sense since Magnum Collision's intake paperwork says that you pay when you pick up your car and I've never been asked to pay up front for a car repair in my life.
    If Magnum is going to demand payment up front then they need to be up front about that. Not sit on your car for a couple of months first. The misrepresentation by the dishonest repair shop is what I have a big problem with. They should have been up front about it instead of asking for it after having my car for 1.5 to 2 months (using that range b/c it was a process beginning with a soft ask at 1.5 months and a hard "We won't order parts until you give us 60% of the total money." at 2 months). Now that I have seen how dishonest they are, I'm very, very glad that I did not hand all that money over to Magnum. Then they would have had my money and my car giving them much more to exploit.

    -My car did not meet either of their posted criteria for charging storage so ZERO storage fees should have been billed to me. That is the biggest problem with what I consider fraudulent misrepresentation of storage fee billing.
    The second thing regarding Magnum's deceptive storage fee practices is, if there are two different storage rates an honest and transparent shop will put both on their sign. Magnum didn't do that.

    -I actually very generously offered them a tear down fee the day I went to recover my car from Magnum Collision. This was before they sent the absurd, almost $9k ransom bill. No tear down fee had been agreed to, let alone discussed, so if we're going with up front and transparent billing practices then no tear down fee would be owed.

    -It would be unconscionable to offer a deceitful repair shop $5k for a fraudulent bill. That would reward their deceptive business practices. What I received from them in terms of value: they gave a repair estimate and....deprived me of my property for months. So in reality I received a net negative value from them and should be asking for damages.

    The specter of suing an unscrupulous repair shop who is holding one's car hostage for ransom (an illegitimate bill) has a lot of angles but this post is getting long so I'll have to come back to it another time.
    Thank you again for your thoughts.
     
  16. INRange

    INRange F1 Veteran
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    Does Magnum Collision still have the car?

    If they do....time is not your friend in this matter.

    An objective read of the situation is that you are a cash customer since you settled for an amount with your insurance company. That means you are acting as your own insurance company. As such it is incumbent upon you to get the necessary estimates and agreements in place before they start work. They are simply a contractor and are not required to give you anything that you did not ask for in writing.

    You don't mention what paperwork that they gave you or what you signed. Based on what you have said so far.....it seems minimal which is consistent with a vendor providing as little as possible to have the maximum wiggle room. In my opinion, that places the burden of proof on the buyer of the services not the provider. Pictures of the signs although interesting don't reflect the conversations between the parties.

    In other words.....without a detailed written agreement between the parties, you have a very weak legal case. This is why insurance companies have legions of lawyers and on-site adjusters to manage repair facilities. Since you are not an insurance company.....your leverage with Magnum is very low.

    A lawyer will tell you the same thing. I am not a lawyer but I have hired enough of them to know what it takes to win in court.

    Again, I'm sorry you are going through this and hope that you reach resolution soon before you lose the car. Also, one last point....posting negative reviews of a company online are discoverable during the legal process. It is easy to make this problem worse and more costly to you.
     
  17. David_S

    David_S F1 World Champ
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    I'd get a good lawyer.

    Heck, you might now own a nifty Collision/repair business! ;)
     
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  18. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    Fortunately we have a right to free speech in this country as well as additional protections like the CRFA and state Anti-SLAPP statutes to protect our rights to warn other consumers and to learn from other consumers' experiences. Anyone is free to disagree with my take on the situation but Magnum did send me an exorbitant bill which consisted primarily of storage charges even though neither of their posted criteria for storage fees applied to my car. I consider it a matter of public concern since other unsuspecting car owners are at risk of falling into the same trap and could even lose their cars because of it.
     
  19. daytona355

    daytona355 F1 World Champ
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    please note, I am not trained in any way in the law, so the following may be considered total claptrap, but it’s what I would be doing. It may get me into trouble if I did, but my thoughts are those here. You may want to get a lawyers opinion before putting much confidence, if any, into my solution


    Do you still have your spare keys? Is the car in a driveable condition? If it were me, I’d simply go and drive the car out and store it offsite somewhere. They call the cops, they also have no signed contract to store the car, you have the pink slip, it’s your car. They claim you owe them money, they send you a bill, the lawyers can argue it. Meanwhile, you have the car and they have squat. Put secondary protection on the car to prevent them locating it and driving it with the original key, and you are golden.

    I appreciate some will advise the cops will get interested in you for GTA, but how can they, if you have a good lawyer, there is no way they can claim GTA on your own property, as long as there was no burglary - ie do it during the day, use someone confident to secure the car (here, I would do it for you) and you haven’t threatened anyone. In fact, if they claim you stole it, you could claim we wanted to check their security, as they are charging large storage fees and you want to make sure if you have to pay that, you are getting your monies worth, and they allowed the car to be driven away without so much as a heated argument, and of course, had they been up to the job of challenging and preventing the loss, you planned to leave the car with them, safe in the knowledge of their competence. Negligence on their part, however, means you cannot trust them to protect the vehicle, and the cost of storage, inflated as it is for supposed secure storage, is not worth paying, hence the lawyers need to negotiate a fair cost of this before your intended settlement.

    if there’s no violence, no threats, and questionable motives for the car being withheld, I can’t see a judge making this a criminal case. It’s civil, and as such, money to be argued over, not jail time in my opinion
     
  20. Statler

    Statler F1 World Champ
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    Jun 7, 2011
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    OK, Since you’re the expert go fix it.

    right to free speech? if you think the first amendment protection against government laws relates to your contract situation here you are beyond any advice people would have provided.

    You’re getting screwed.
    You’re taking the entire wrong approach to fixing it.

    don’t think you’re doing a great service by warning people now. Go win your suit and post the court order only. You really want to get into Anti slap versus tortious interference of contract as your posts slip from asking questions to suggesting people don’t do business with someone? That’s a very noble cause, but if your balking at your current costs perhaps you haven’t thought through that lawsuit yet. Get off google and Wikipedia for this issue.
     
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  21. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    Haha, not sure I'm looking to get into that industry.

    But I do think a collision shop working on high end cars in the Atlanta market with ethical ownership that treated people right (instead of tricking and trapping them like Magnum Collision) could attract a lot of business.
     
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  22. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    Coming back to the part about taking deceptive Magnum Collision to court, that would cause a lot of delay in recovering one's property while waiting for the suit to play out. Then the question would be if it would be possible to get compensation from the unscrupulous shop for the entire time one was deprived of one's property including the time it took the suit to settle. Car owners usually buy their cars to enjoy owning and driving them. A predatory shop knows that and exploits it for their profit since the delay in recovering one's vehicle would likely deter many owners from taking the court route.

    The manager of Magnum said he planned to file for a lien based on the (fraudulent) bill and then "the car becomes a paperweight" until things are settled, the car would go to auction, etc. Not sure how much of that is true since honesty doesn't seem too important to them. He actually made a long social media post about the situation that was about 80% false. I'll have to go through it and get an actual tally of true vs. false statements sometime. It was pretty bad.

    Re: a history of predatory practices by Magnum Collision and other aggrieved parties. From asking around in the community it seems they used to be a pretty ethical business until the original owner sold it to the owners of Performance Auto Collision a few years ago. (That's why I asked about both shops as they are pretty much the same business now.) So there is a short track record with current ownership, but word on the street is that things have deteriorated significantly since the ownership change. It would be a question of how many other aggrieved parties have accumulated in that time and how motivated they are to shine a light on the predatory behaviours in order to spare others in the community the same fate.
     
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  23. sf_hombre

    sf_hombre Formula 3
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    "A lawyer will tell you the same thing. I am not a lawyer but I have hired enough of them to know what it takes to win in court."

    Ha! How was that stay at the Holiday Inn?

    I'd suggest you contact a local attorney. They may be able to get an injunction ordering Magnum to give you back your car pending any legal action, or know of other remedies not yet discussed here.
     
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  24. 911&F430

    911&F430 Karting

    Oct 14, 2014
    125
    Atlanta
    The paperwork says that you pay when you pick up the car.
     
  25. Statler

    Statler F1 World Champ
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    Jun 7, 2011
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    Five months in. You have your car or a court case number?
     
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  26. thorn

    thorn F1 Rookie
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    We had a customer do that a few years ago. Called him, told him his car was ready. On seeing the invoice, he simply walked out to the parking lot with a spare key and drove away.

    The police were very helpful in driving to his home and arresting him.
     
  27. arizonaitalian

    arizonaitalian F1 World Champ
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    do you recall what charges they arrested him for?
     
  28. NYC Fred

    NYC Fred F1 Rookie
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    $5 says the car is buried, so not so simple to just grab it + drive away.

    I doubt this is their first rodeo in that regard.
     

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