Prepare for some abuse
February 23, 2009 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Shady auto body shop in Toronto. Help me prepare myself...

My gf was driving my car this weekend (we live in Toronto) and slid into the back of a stopped streetcar. Thankfully she and her friends are alright, but the car sustained some damage in the front. At the time of the accident, some tow driver came up and offered to tow them to the nearest autobody shop (Frank's Collsion). I later found out that the tow truck company and Frank's are one and the same.

Having talked with the insurance adjuster today, I decided it was best to have the car fixed at a shop that was part of the insurer's network (I'm insured with Belair). I tried calling Frank's to clear the car to be towed by the new body shop, but both their phone numbers are constantly busy. When I called the new body shop, they informed me that Frank's is notorious for being a bit of a dodgy shop and their m.o. is showing up at accident sites and towing cars straight to their shop for "storage" at outrageous rates. In any case, I was informed that the best way to sort this out was to drive down to Frank's with a tow-truck from the new body shop. But I was also told to expect a lot of verbal abuse from these guys and that since my gf signed some documents at the time of towing, they were most likely going to fight very hard to keep the car there.

My question is, what should I be looking out for when I go there? I own the car and it's registered under my name, so I don't think they can really do any work on my car regardless of what my gf signed. Is there anything else I should watch out for? What if I show up and the car's already in a million pieces being fixed? Who should I get in touch with then? Sorry for the long question. I just don't like the feeling that I'm walking into a scam, and want to be as prepared as possible.
posted by reformedjerk to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Usually there are two things to sign--the first is the authorization to tow, the second is the authorization to commence repair. If they give you a hard time, give them a hard time right back by asking what idiot in their right mind would possibly authorize someone to begin repairs when they don't know the full extent of the problem and haven't had a chance to get a second opinion/estimate?

What if I show up and the car's already in a million pieces being fixed? Who should I get in touch with then?

A lawyer. If you refuse to pay for work that's been done to your car, usually the shop has the right to keep your vehicle until you pay. In this case, they'll have to prove that you authorized the work to be done in the first place, but at this point you're in lawyer-ville. You might also want to call your friendly neighborhood peace officer and calmly explain the situation to them--it's unlikely they'll be able to do anything, but at least you can some paperwork started to get the ball rolling for your lawsuit.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:00 AM on February 24, 2009

Best answer: I'd do the following: show up with the tow truck, ask for your car. If they give you shit, call the cops: "these guys took my car and won't give it back."

If Frank says something like "we have a work/tow authorization!", respond with:

1- Not from you, and you are the owner of the car
2- Driver did not have legal authority to sign contracts in your name

Frank might say "that's not my fault" to which you say:

3- Of course it is- if they didn't check the registration, they took the risk

Frank might then say "well I'll just sue your girlfriend!" you say:

4- Go for it, there's not a court in the land who would believe that GF wasn't under some kind of duress when she signed the contract, making it null and void.

Problem solved. If the car is in a state of disassembly, have them throw the pieces in a box and take it all away anyway. Take an inventory, get Frank to sign a copy of the inventory "for his own protection" so you can't say he didn't give you your fender back.
posted by gjc at 3:09 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers guys. I went there and spent about 6 hours getting the runaround before the finally released the car to my new body shop. The payout the insurance company is paying is over a grand for the tow and storage.
posted by reformedjerk at 6:18 PM on February 27, 2009

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