Am I being scammed?
August 19, 2013 7:00 PM   Subscribe

I returned from vacation to find out that my car had apparently been keyed and my neighbor, who is also an employee of my landlord, had it repaired for $80. What's the best way to handle this? I don't want to be taken advantage of, but I feel obligated to reimburse him.

So, I recently moved to this apartment. I have been here less than a month. The man who lives above me, Jake, is the gardener for our landlord's home property.

Jake catches me just as I am returning from a two week trip. Tells me my car was keyed and takes me over to look at my car, where I can see some indication, if I look at the right angle, that it was keyed. He then calls over to a neighbor from across the street, who apparently fixed it while I was gone. He shows me some pictures on his phone of the damage. It was not a typical straight keying but a squiggly swirling keying like they really wanted to do some damage. Although I saw photos, they were just a few close ups and I don't truly have a good sense of the extent of the damage. They said it was really bad on the side of the car with some on the trunk and hood also.

Jake then tells me he paid the neighbor $80 to fix this because he didn't want me to come back from my trip, and being new to the neighborhood, feel bad or that the area was unsafe. They both said this never happens here.

I appreciate Jake's consideration, assuming he is being honest with me, but I prefer to deal with these things myself. I don't know if this is a really cheap price or what.

I don't have much money and I probably would have driven around with the car looking like crap given the choice of spending that money on something cosmetic right now. But I feel obligated to reimburse Jake.

Oddly, Jake strongly indicated that he thought someone did this purposefully to me. That someone has something against me and this is their revenge. I have no enemies and cannot even conceive that it would be possible that someone would be out to get me like that. Although I have to say I've never seen someone key a car with such loops and swirls and I assume this is to make it harder to repair? Is this a case of mistaken identity?

-------------

-Should I pay Jake the money, but say next time let me take care of it?
-What would a typical price for this kind of body work be?
-Is there more information I should get from Jake to verify that this is not some bizarre elaborate scam?
-Why would Jake scam me when he's my landlord's employee? It seems unlikely. Or did the neighbor scam Jake?
-Should I let our landlord know that this has happened?
-Do you think this description indicates a personal attack?
posted by abirdinthehand to Human Relations (49 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would say, in a firm tone, "I appreciate that you were trying to do something nice, but you seriously overstepped here. Please do not get involved in my business again." I wouldn't even bring up the money.

Frankly, I'd be very, very strongly suspicious that it was a scam. I would definitely tell your landlord, in a "I do not think this is cool and I do not want this to happen again" sort of way. Whether or not his intentions were pure, he made a very bad call.

Also ask him if he made a police report. I'm sure he didn't, and I'm also quite sure he made it much harder for you to do so since there's no evidence of the damage now that isn't in his direct control. Again, may or may not be intentional, but is seriously uncool.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:04 PM on August 19, 2013 [46 favorites]


Don't pay him the money. You didn't ask for him to lie to you, he's doing it for free.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:10 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Assuming good faith, he also probably seriously compromised your ability to get your insurance involved, which you might have otherwise been able to do. He did you no favors even if he isn't rooking the newbie.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:12 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is so weird. I don't know if it's a scam or not, but you don't have to pay.

"I would have been able to get this covered by my insurance. Now I cannot. Honestly, I don't have the money to pay for this and if my insurance didn't cover it I probably would have just left it scratched up for now. This is totally not ok. You can't repair someone's car without them even knowing it. Please don't touch my car again."

If he protests, go to his boss, your landlord. As this happened outside your landlord's property it's in the context of his job.
posted by amaire at 7:23 PM on August 19, 2013 [33 favorites]


Did he give you a receipt? Ask for one.
posted by smoke at 7:27 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


The "enemy out for revenge" story will be nice cover when he goes back and fucks up your car some more after you don't pay up.

Talk to your landlord and explain that you suspect her employee vandalized your car and is trying to scam you.
posted by ryanrs at 7:29 PM on August 19, 2013 [24 favorites]


It does sound extremely odd - and no, you definitely don't owe him money for an apparent repair he made to your property without permission. Seconding amaire's suggestion for what to say.
posted by fever-trees at 7:33 PM on August 19, 2013


I would start with, "thanks, that was nice of you." And leave it at that.

Only if he mentions the money or asks for reimbursement would I then go to the many great explanations above about how you're not going to pay for something you didn't want, wouldn't have purchased on your own, and that involved altering your property without your permission by total strangers while you were away and could not supervise.

I wouldn't say, "I can't afford it," because that leaves you open to a long fight about payment plans or what a great deal it was or whatever. Just make it clear that you didn't want the "service," that they didn't have your permission to touch your property, and that you won't be paying.

And yes, if he asks you for money, you should absolutely report it to his boss as possible vandalism, and at the very least, extremely bad behavior by his employee.

But I'd start off treating it the same way I would some new neighbor who baked me a pie. Thank them, even if it's not your favorite flavor of pie. Until it actually becomes an attempt to get money out of you, there's no real reason to treat it that way.

Oh, and you could also ask Jake to help you fill out a police report, since even though it's fixed now, you want the police to have a record of it in case it ever happens again to you or anyone else in the neighborhood. If it's not a scam, I'd think he'd be happy to help. And if it is a scam, he'll be on notice that the police know your car has been vandalized, and that you won't hesitate to call the cops if it ever happens again.
posted by decathecting at 7:34 PM on August 19, 2013 [39 favorites]


Agreeing with others that this is totally weird and (if everything they're saying is true) COMPLETELY oversteps their bounds. If my car got keyed no way in hell would I pay to repair it. Just because someone else thinks it needs to be repaired doesn't mean that I, the owner of my car, want it repaired.

But this whole thing seems sketch as hell. Do not pay them anything (you are not obligated to in any way), tell them that it was seriously uncool to do any of this without your permission, and notify your landlord. Don't go to the landlord and be all "your employee is vandalizing my car," but tell them the facts in a "this is weird and intrusive" kind of way.
posted by phunniemee at 7:36 PM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


So...

I returned from vacation to find out that my car had apparently been keyed

and then...

Jake then tells me he paid the neighbor $80 to fix this because he didn't want me to come back from my trip, and being new to the neighborhood, feel bad or that the area was unsafe. They both said this never happens here.


But... you did come back from your trip to find that your car had been keyed. I don't know if you feel bad or unsafe, but neither of those reactions would be unsurprising. Nothing Jake did solved the supposed problem. This story doesn't make sense even in a superficial way. I think it's a shakedown. Don't capitulate.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:38 PM on August 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh wait... upon rereading, I see that Jake has not asked for the money. In that case, I don't know that it's a scam, but it is certainly a boundary violation. I would tell him that you don't want him touching your car again. Certainly don't offer to pay him for services you neither asked for nor desired.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:44 PM on August 19, 2013


How bizarre.

I don't know a ton about auto body paint so I hope somebody with more knowledge steps in, but I suspect that there's no way to do a repair the correct way for so little money (my guess the real cost should be $300-$500, maybe more if it really was extensive).

Normally you have to sand everything down, prime it, and put special car paint on using not-so-cheap equipment. So while the repair might have covered up the keying, the "repair" (probably using spray paint or something equally stupid) has most likely actually damaged your car in the long run. Now instead of having to fix the keying, you have to fix the shoddy repair on top of fixing the keying. Even if he is 100% sincere, he almost certainly made the problem worse.

I would go my insurance company with all of the details here and see what they say. Also, definitely file a police report.
posted by zug at 7:47 PM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Take the higher road. It's 80 bucks, and you'll probably never know the truth of it. If it was me, I would reimburse the $80, over time if that's all I could do, and say, clearly, "Thanks, I understand your intent, but, in the future, I prefer to take care of this type of thing myself.", shake his hand and let it go. And, if in the future it needs repainting, get it done.....

Unless, of course, you're planning to move and don't give a darn what these think of you.

Your call....
posted by HuronBob at 7:53 PM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Did the guy ask for money? Does he expect money?

If the answer to those questions is "No," then bring over a couple loaves of homemade zucchini bread (or some other nice-but-not-expensive gift) as thanks. Let him know while you appreciate the effort in the future you'd prefer to survey the damage yourself, and get it taken care of if need be.

If he hasn't requested money, this isn't so much "scam" as it is "misplaced neighborliness." This is exactly the kind of thing I would've done in my more socially awkward times in an attempt to be friendly and nice, and I would have no idea that anyone would find it weird or creepy.

(I'm kind of saddened by all the negative energy going to this guy. If he hasn't been pressuring the OP for money then his only crime is overenthusiasm)

(Oh yeah, and do talk to your landlord about it, in a "Hey here's a funny story about Jake" sort of way. It's possible Jake does this kind of thing for everyone.)
posted by schroedinger at 7:58 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Telling you how much it cost was implicitly asking you for money, IMHO.

Have you talked to the neighbor who supposedly repaired the scratches? Ask how they supposedly fixed it, what they used, etc? This seems weirdly over-complicated for a scam, but nobody said it had to be a smart scam. Assuming it is one the neighbor connection seems like the weakest link in the story. Repairing "really bad" keyed paint on multiple panels of the car would take a lot more than $80 worth of time; I wouldn't be shocked if it took more than $80 worth of sandpaper.


Should I let our landlord know that this has happened?

Yes. Definitely, absolutely yes. Your landlord has known Jake longer than you have; their reaction on hearing the news may be informative.
posted by ook at 7:58 PM on August 19, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's not even been brought up here, but while i would never ever ever in a million years ever pay this, my first step right now would be to order some kind of cheap IP surveillance camera with overnight shipping. I'd spend my $80 on the camera and shipping like right now

Put it somewhere where the car is in full view, as is the area around it. Test it a bunch before you put it out.

Why? because when you don't pay after they passive aggressively asked you to by stating the amount and just generally framing it that way i'd fully expect some kind of weird retaliation to happen. Possibly with an explicit "well i really think common courtesy says you should" kind of framing first, but yea.

I'd be REALLY paranoid that my car would be somehow damaged now, and i'd want some real proof of who did it.

I don't think this is overly paranoid at all, this is a fucking weird situation.
posted by emptythought at 8:04 PM on August 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Telling you how much it cost was implicitly asking you for money, IMHO.

Exactly right. Ignore it, be neighborly when you cross paths with him, and if it ever comes up say "man, I'm sorry but I don't have that to spare; if I'da been here I would have just lived with it and I'd never have asked you to spend money on me."

It's not impossible that someone who had the equipment, know-how, and supplies could have done a low-rent fix for $80 worth of materials. I paid a random dude who knocked on my door to fix up some body damage on my car that I was going to ignore, though it was way more than $80. But it seems super unlikely. More probably it's either flat-out fabrication or, the moment you hand over $80 to Jake, he'll start talking about the time and effort this other dude spent fixing the car.

Don't paint yourself as the sucker. Play dumb and stonewall if necessary. If you get a reputation as someone who won't pay someone back after they spend money fixing your car after not being asked...
posted by phearlez at 8:07 PM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is the damage not visible at all now? It seems like any quick repair would be somewhat detectable. Is there any way they could have put something on the car that looks like a scratch in the pictures and then washed it off? That would make more sense to me as a scam than actually scratching and painting your car. I know nothing about car paint and am assuming that fixing a big scratch without lots of sanding and a paint booth would look like paint on top of a scratch, not nice smooth perfect paint.
posted by artychoke at 8:16 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd also second that you do not ever want to say anything that implies a reason why you can't pay it, because that can be argued with or get stupid "It's ok man, can you do $20 right now? just hit me back for the rest later!" type responses. Stick strictly to "what? no" and "sorry, that won't be possible" type responses.

And don't ever bring it up unless they do, obviously.
posted by emptythought at 8:16 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


First, talk to your landlord. Tell him while you appreciate Jake's supposed good deeds, it's a problem (for reasons stated above) mostly because he messed with your property while you were gone and now feel like it's not a safe place to store your car. Implication being, he's going to lose a (I assume) good renter at some point because of his weird gardener dude who can't keep his hands off of the tenant's stuff.

We lived in a relative dump and the super was just above us. But we paid on time and caused no trouble, so when we reported the super for beating up his girlfriend, he was out in a week. Supers are easier to get than good tenants, I think. Of course you haven't been there long. But he still might want to keep you.

Maybe it all happened as Jake said and he just needs a talking to about appropriateness. Maybe he's done this before and the landlord is ready to toss him for doing it again. Either way, the landlord needs to know.

Now if he doesn't care, you could definitely take some precautions (maybe even a fake camera with a battery red light, might be enough to keep Jake or the "Mystery Keyer" away) and see how things go till your lease runs out. And then I'd move.
posted by emjaybee at 8:16 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that this could be an attempt at "loan sharking," as described in The Gift of Fear.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:18 PM on August 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


Is there any way they could have put something on the car that looks like a scratch in the pictures and then washed it off?

If I were doing this scam, I'd use a white grease pencil and a shitty cell phone camera and try to incorporate some existing damage / unevenness in the paint.
posted by ryanrs at 8:20 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even if this guy is super nice and had only the best of intentions, he still altered your property without your consent. Personally, I would not encourage this behaviour by thanking, paying, or gifting him a treat. Don't convey that seriously altering your stuff without permission has your seal of approval.

The truly kind hearted and boundary respecting thing for him to do would have been to contact the landlord and have him/her call you up and let you know what happened, and offer to fix the scratches for you when you got back. The fact that they have pictures of damage that is no longer there, and was fixed before you returned (aka: when it would be impossible for you to refuse their help) is very suspicious.

Also, trust your gut. Do you feel like you're being scammed? If so then you probably are.
posted by Shouraku at 8:28 PM on August 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Yo, I painted your car while you were on vacation, pay me."

Who does that?
Nobody does that.
posted by ryanrs at 8:37 PM on August 19, 2013 [21 favorites]


Ask Jake to forward the pics to you from his cell phone along with his contact info "so you can alert the police and your insurance company to file a report with HIM as a witness after the fact" .....This is a safe way to call his bluff if he is scamming without escalating it to far. It will also prove to him that you are not an easy mark if he is scamming. If he gives up the info freely, thank him graciously while saying he overstepped the bounds by fixing your car without permission and that is not cool. If you feel he is being truthful I second the baked goods method or if you are not a baker, a bottle or six pack of his favorite beverage would be also do the trick, no CASH should change hands.
posted by HappyHippo at 8:40 PM on August 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


This is what I would do, personally,

-Ask neighbor who has pictures of damage to send it to you - to a dummy email address or something. "Hey, [neighborguy] I'd appreciate if you can send those to me for insurance purposes/my records/whatever."

-Contact the landlord about the situation

-File a police report, with photos and stories from yourself, neighbor, Jake, and landlord. Then there is at least a record of the incident. You can also let the police know you are suspicious that this is a scam. If they do it often or have done other scams, there may be other things that the police can shed light on.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:40 PM on August 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


Go to the police and make a police report of the incident ASAP.

Make the neighbor message you the pics. Semi-Lie and tell him it's for your insurance company.

WRITE YOUR LANDLORD ABOUT THIS INCIDENT, INCLUDE THE POLICE REPORT AND THE PICS. ACCUSE NO ONE - JUST PROVIDE THE FACTS, INCLUDING THAT YOU WERE TOLD THE REPAIR COST $80.

At this stage, don't ask for anything. Just send the email and the pics and wait to see what happens. More on this later...

ASAP, get a cheap door alarm ($10 to $15) at the hardware store AND START USING IT RELIGIOUSLY. These things are easy to install! Do this!

---

I would either expect (a) the landlord to give you an $80 break on your rent and have HIM pay his employee, or (b) expect worse vandalism as retaliation.

You need to establish a paper trail with your landlord in case you need to break your lease. Yes,,your neighbor is some type of criminal.

Memail me if/when you need more advice. I've dealt with this before. There's a few ways it might shake out, but you need to cover your bases, first.

Please don't skip the police report or the alarm.

The most awesome thing is if you make a "to do" in front of gardener dude by calling the police non-emergency number and make SURE they come to see the car and make a report at your building. Tell gardener dude it's for your insurance company. Tell the police about gardener dude & the neighbor's involvement in the incident.

Showing you take this seriously will seriously back him off. Once he knows you're not timid and do things by the book, my guess is he'll stop trying to put shit over on you.

And if it escalates, as long as you have this paper trail, you'll be able to negotiate breaking the lease and getting your full deposit back.
posted by jbenben at 8:49 PM on August 19, 2013 [35 favorites]


Ha! You're right on best answering Crystalline.

You can't go wrong handling this professionally.
posted by jbenben at 8:51 PM on August 19, 2013


Nobody has a right to key your car and nobody has a right to do repair work on your car without permission. Nobody should be touching your car, period. It is, or is similar to, trespassing.
posted by Dansaman at 9:03 PM on August 19, 2013


If this guy was really helping out just to be a nice buddy then not only would he have not mentioned the repairs costing $80, he wouldn't have even mentioned the car being keyed.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:32 PM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait a minute, how did this guy across the road happen to have the exact same colour of paint available, plus all the equipment required, to paint cosmetic damage to your car to the extent that you can only discern it if you're looking at a very particular angle? Is there a car body shop across the road? I had some work done on my 2012 model Fiesta recently and they had to get the paint from Germany for some reason (or maybe it was a special mix or some special chemical, I dunno). What are these pictures on the phone? I wonder if you can make it look like a car got keyed but really it's just been drawn on with some kind of magic pen or whatever? Oh god everything about this is like Pacific Heights, get the hell out of there right now.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:42 PM on August 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


At best, this is the sort of well-meaning paternalism that is going to get very fucking old very fast.

Worst case, uh, he works for your landlord...does he have access to keys? Gods help you if he decides he needs to rescue you from your dripping sink faucet while you're in the shower.
posted by desuetude at 10:00 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


You saw close up pictures of someone's car, what makes you think those are pictures of your car?

Even if my car got keyed, and even if someone decided to be all "there I fixed it" without trying to scam me out of $80 (which is ridiculously low for the sort of damage you are talking about), I'd be mad as hell about them feeling like they had the right to just go off and take sandpaper and paint to my personal vehicle. That ugly car is mine, and no one else gets to make those decisions for me.

I'd be worried about more than just getting scammed or robbed here, this guy is testing your boundaries in a serious, serious way, and he's found that not only are you not pissed about people deciding to "help" you in ways you didn't ask for, you are being so accommodating and nice that you were considering giving him money for doing it. Whatever your gender may be, you mention wearing skirts in a previous question... I think you are in some serious danger here.

Even if he isn't supposed to have keys to your apartment, there's more than one kind of keying, and he may know other ways to get in. With how he's working on you though, I think he's more likely to talk you into getting into an unsafe situation.

He knows you were on a trip, he's really focused on ideas of revenge and someone purposefully doing things to you, and he has a buddy who is interested in helping him scam money from you and who knows what else.

Why would Jake scam me when he's my landlord's employee? It seems unlikely.

He can probably tell you are incredibly naive and likely to do things because you feel obligated.

He either made a barely perceptible dent in your car, or just pointed out to you one of those minuscule dents that everyone's car has. This story about how he and the neighbor didn't want you to feel bad or that the area was unsafe, so they thought they'd paint the car and you wouldn't know it got keyed, and then act like you owe them something for preventing you from knowing your car was keyed while they are telling you about your car getting keyed? BS.

Other stories they might tell you about someplace you need to go, or some reason they need to go in your apartment, or that play on your sense of obligation? Also BS.
posted by yohko at 11:51 PM on August 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Absolutely yes, make a police report: this needs to be on the record as soon as possible. Also definately yes, notify the landlord: he needs to know what his employees are doing on his property (especially if it's something as sketchy as this!), to make sure he himself is covered against any liability. And when you make that police report, make sure the police get Jake and his friend on the record too.

Tell Jake and his buddy you'll pay once you get the receipt plus the photos from both of them, have filed a police report AND have received a refund from your insurance company --- say you can't afford it now, but once you have that check from the insurance you'll pay them the $80.

As for the cost: $80? Really? That's an UNBELIEVEABLY low price for any kind of professional bodywork/paint repair. Jake works for your landlord; what kind of auto repair qualifications does the other guy have? Since you say there actually *is* a tiny bit of damage visible ("from the right angle"), I'm inclined to think that what happened is Jake and his buddy did the keying themselves, then used nothing more than one of the tubes of touchup paint that all cars come with, and that you can also buy at just about any autoparts store for around $10.
posted by easily confused at 2:43 AM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


tubes of touchup paint that all cars come with
I've been buying the wrong kind of cars, I'd LOVE if any of my cars had ever come with that from the dealer.
posted by tilde at 5:30 AM on August 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


-Do you think this description indicates a personal attack?

I suspect that either Jake or a buddy of Jake's did something Stupid. Maybe they were drunk, maybe they thought they were targeting a different car, but whatever the reason Jake is worried that the damage might be traced back to him, putting his job at risk, so tried to fix it. The whole 'it's a personal attack' thing is to distract attention away from him. Jake paying 80 bucks is his showing how he's a Good Guy in this and is totally not involved, so sir, don't look at me...

Get the pics, make the reports, don't pay. Maybe say something to Jake that you appreciate him trying to do the right thing, but really, don't. Report it to your landlord in a "Woah, this Jake guy is a little TOO helpful and I'm not cool with that" sense.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:41 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I recently moved to this apartment. I have been here less than a month.

It's crazy to repair someone else's paintjob without asking if you know them well. After less than a month?
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:33 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Millionth-ng that this is definitely some kind of scam. If you car was keyed at all, the neighbor or Jake did it. Either way, they want your money. Or they want you to feel unsafe. There is no good outcome, I'd probably move.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:46 AM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, you are being scammed. I assume you're in the US. People who claim they can 'fix' minor problems with auto exteriors drive around here preying on the unsuspecting -- people like you who don't realize what's involved with bodywork. They say they have all the tools they need with them -- but the paint is a whole 'nother deal. Can you see where the keying happened, where random neighbor 'fixed' it? Colors won't quite match, new paint will look different, the surface won't be as smooth, especially with a street repair vs. work done in a shop. Sounds like you can't tell if you had any body work done, and I imagine that's what's happened here. The correct and only appropriate response when approached by these people is laughter, IMO. And your neighbor? "Don't you even think about touching my car!"
posted by Rash at 7:10 AM on August 20, 2013


So allegedly your car was keyed in three locations (on the side, the trunk, and the hood), and the keying was really swirly and elaborate, but somehow it only cost $80 to fix all that damage? And you've only seen close-up photos of the damage, I'm assuming without identifying info that it's a photo of your car (like, a bumper sticker or a shot of your license plate or anything)?

All of that on its own would make me suspicious, but then you get to the part where you've lived there less than a month, in that time you were gone for two weeks, and when you return this guy tracks you down and tells you that all this damage happened to your car while you were gone and he didn't want you to know about it or feel bad about it so he went to all the hassle of enlisting the help of some other guy to fix your car for a super low price and then he proceeds to tell you all about it and show you pictures of the damage that he claims he didn't want you to be worried by or feel bad about?

WTF. Something is not right here.

Don't give this guy any money, and tell your landlord right away. Your landlord needs to know that at best, their employee is taking it upon themselves to fix minor damage to tenants' personal property out of his own pocket without permission (and yes, telling you all about the fix and how much it costs is implicitly asking to be reimbursed).
posted by palomar at 7:24 AM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yep. Receipt from a local repair service center with name and address clearly legible, as well as contact info for the service center. It's "for your records" or, if pressed, "for your insurance carrier's records".

And then if you are provided the receipt with the information, call them right away with the make, model, year and license plate of your car and confirm that the work was actually done. Get a copy of the receipt from them too, from the manager, also "for your records" or for insurance or taxation records.
posted by kalessin at 7:38 AM on August 20, 2013


I have close friends that I have known for years.

I would not fix their car without permission even if I wasn't charging them money.

This is sketch.
posted by corb at 7:38 AM on August 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd do everything that easily confused suggested except there's no way is pay them.

There is no way a repair of the claimed magnitude only cost eighty bucks. If they did do anything to your car at that price they made the issue much worse.

Let the man know that you are filing a report, and use a brisk, slightly cool tone so he has to worry about how much you believe his story. That might avoid future issues. I would not include him in the police report process - you need to make the statement from the perspective that you were told these things but have no information to confirm it occurred as described.
posted by winna at 8:35 AM on August 20, 2013


I am not an expert on painting cars or anything, but there is no freaking way that your car's hood, side and trunk could have been repaired for $80. If anything was done to your car, they damaged it.

Even if it was repaired, which I think is impossible, Jake wasn't acting with good intentions. He was seriously overstepping boundaries and damaging your property.

This:
Jake then tells me he paid the neighbor $80 to fix this because he didn't want me to come back from my trip, and being new to the neighborhood, feel bad or that the area was unsafe.

combined with:

Oddly, Jake strongly indicated that he thought someone did this purposefully to me. That someone has something against me and this is their revenge.

makes me concerned that this is beyond a scam for money, that this guy is deliberately trying to make you feel unsafe and obligated to him.
posted by inertia at 8:52 AM on August 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Take your car to an auto body shop you trust and tell them your story. They may have heard it before. Ask them if your car really was keyed, and if so, how would they have fixed it and what's the cost to repair whatever these knuckleheads did to your car. My guess is, they didn't do anything permanent because you live right there.

If you do determine it's a scam and there's no actual damage, I'd personally tell them to go to hell in colorful language but involving the police might be smarter. If they did damage your car, I think I'd want a cop there while I presented them with the estimate from the body shop.
posted by bigbigdog at 9:26 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


My car just got keyed too, also with dips and swirls on trunk, hood, and doors. It costs a LOT more than $80 to fix this kind of damage. (Which may be in vogue for some reason? My insurer said I was the third person with a keyed car to call him this summer.)

I don't see it as personal, though who can be sure?

And I would find it very strange if my neighbor fixed my car without talking to me about it, good deal or not.

That said, it doesn't seem like much of a scam. What are we imagining they did? Took pictures of someone else's body damage and are trying to pass it off as yours? That seems unlikely if you can see damage to your car from a certain angle. Actually scratched your car themselves and then fixed it, all for eighty bucks, which they get to split between the two of them? That is a dumb-ass scam for sure.

Maybe I'm the most starry-eyed person on Metafilter, but I wouldn't see this as a scam. Bizarre overstepping of personal boundaries, sure, but not a criminal scheme to make money.
posted by feets at 5:21 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This doesn't make sense. Get a peek at his keys. Tell your landlord for sure -- and deal with this guy very firmly. That story does NOT add up, and you need to make it clear that he needs to stay away from your property. In short, without accusing him, you can make it clear with your eyes, staring directly into his, that you know it was him.

He repaired your car without your consent (huh?), so you wouldn't know something bad had happened (HUH?), then went and told you about it anyway? Fishy as hell.
posted by ravioli at 6:18 PM on August 20, 2013


Thanks for all the answers.

Just to follow up:

I told my landlord about the situation. The next day my neighbor came by saying, don't worry about the money- I knew I shouldn't have done it, etc.

I decided to give him half the money. I think it's a good compromise. At this point I suspect he was scammed by the guy across the street. Anyhow, I don't want a lot of drama in my new place so I'm mostly giving him the benefit of the doubt.
posted by abirdinthehand at 4:56 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well I for one sure am looking forward to your next question!
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:22 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


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