GALT (CBS13) – No one denied the two dents happened after the Nixons dropped their 10-year-old SUV off at Huisman Auctions in Galt.
“There was a huge dent in the back,” Jay Nixon said of the white 2002 Ford Explorer.
But no one could tell exactly who backed it into the blue dumpster in the auction yard, smearing blue paint on the back of the SUV, and leaving divots above and below the right tail light.
The Nixons said Huisman Auctions should pay the $1,400, as assessed by their insurance company, to fix those dents.
But owner Dave Huisman wasn’t interested, they said.
“He said, ‘How about you put it on your insurance, and I don’t charge you the buy-back fee?'” said Angie Nixon.
The Nixon’s didn’t think they should have to put the damage on their insurance, since it wasn’t thier fault. So the couple drove the damaged SUV home, and Huisman Auctions charged their credit card with the $250 buy-back fee — a fee, listed on the contract, owners of items must pay if their items go unsold during the auction.
“We bring an item in to be sold, and then we gotta pay to get it back, and it’s damaged,” Jay said.
Huisman Auction said it’s protected from paying for the damage, however, based on the contract Angie Nixon signed.
The contract wording reads, “I agree to hold harmless the auctioneers against any claims from the nature referred to in this agreement.”
That clause in the contract doesn’t make sense, according to McGeorge School of Law Professor Omar Dajani, who noted the contract doesn’t mention anything specific about Huisman being released from any liability tied to an accident,
“It’s one of the worst written contracts that I’ve seen in a while,” he said. “The auctioneer needed to list some specific claims.”
Huisman agreed to refund the Nixon’s $250 buy-back fee, but refused to pay for the damage.
“There’s no responsibility on our part,” he told CBS13.
The Nixons said they plan on taking the case to small claims court.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” Jay said.
Some consumers are afraid to report accidents to their own insurance company, even if it wasn’t their fault, thinking their insurance will go up. An insurance industry expert told CBS13, unless it’s their fault, consumers should not expect their rates to increase after an accident like this.