Car repair dispute takes a wrong turn
Disputes between car mechanics and customers are nothing new. Having the police called to the scene? Not so much.
And it's "why" the police got involved, that we felt the need to pursue this story.
Of course the argument was over money. A woman paid for repairs, but ended up with a car that wasn't ready for the road. So when the repair shop asked for more money, she hit the road…with her car... and now she's being charged as a criminal
You can tell by the sound…and the drive. This car is on its last leg.
But it's Catherine Peeples' lifeline. So she's gotta make it last.
"It may be a piece of crap to others, but to me it is all I have. I just finished paying this vehicle off. My whole intention was to get a stable vehicle," she said.
It's why this working mom of three scraped together $1,300 to fix it at a Midas shop in Brook Park….even though she was originally told the charges would be $1,000.
But she says they told her, she'd need a few "extra things”, to really get it running smoothly.
Peeples says "We had discussed it was out of my budget, just do what you can do and I will bring it back next week to get the following work done."
She needed to pass the E Check...but the car failed.
So she brought it back to get those “extra things” which would cost an extra $500.
This time she brought along her sister Angel Collins, who said the mechanic told them, “I am giving you my word. If it's not the fuel injection, I got it.”
But when she took the "newly repaired" car for a test drive, the car still shook and the check engine light was still on.
Yet Midas still wanted its money.
"I called the police to see what was my options at this time because I have never been through anything like this," Catherine said.
They told her it was a civil matter. And since she had the keys, she could leave.
And that's where things took a bad turn
According to Catherine, "By the time I got home the police was calling me. Bring the vehicle back or it's grand theft.”
Yep, Midas filed this criminal complaint against her for theft.
"The problem is, she didn't do it with the intent to deprive the owner of the property,” said Blake Brewer, who is a local consumer attorney. “She had a good faith legitimate dispute about whether she had been provided the services," he continued.
Since Midas clearly feels they had, we wanted to know why $1,800 worth of work wasn't enough to get "her" car to work.
"I can't comment on this," said the Midas Store Manager when we showed up.
Instead, he said the District Manager would come talk to us. He never showed.
So we emailed and called, the "owner" of the franchise.
"I want to be fair, so again I'm calling about a dispute," I said in a voice mail message
We got a call back from him later that day and he told us, "Additional services needed to be performed on a vehicle that had been highly neglected for many years."
Still Catherine says, she's not backing down.
Even if it means she'll be prosecuted.
"This is all I have, so I have to fight for it."
In fact, Catherine is now suing Midas for violating the Consumer Sales Practices Act, Breach of Contract and Defamation for accusing her of theft.
The owner of the franchise says he plans to vigorously fight the charges.