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Call Kurtis: Should You Pay Anything Up Front For Auto Repairs?

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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STOCKTON (CBS13) — June Nelson-Bottley paid an auto body shop about $8,500 up front to fix her Ford Mustang, but then the shop closed.

Without her car or the money she paid, she called Kurtis for answers.

The last time Nelson-Bottley saw her red Mustang, she thought it was about to get fixed, after an accident.

But things have changed.

“I don’t have any means of going any place,” she said.

That’s because she’s been stuck without her car the last three months.

Within a week of dropping it off, she said Don’s Body Repair in Stockton closed, leaving only the signs on the building and an empty parking lot.

“They cashed the check immediately and they are no longer reachable,” she said.

So where’s her Mustang and the $8,500 she paid them up front?

Call Kurtis has learned nothing in the law keeps auto body shops from requiring customers to pay up front, but the Bureau of Automotive Repair said you shouldn’t ever have to front money unless it’s a custom part not regularly stocked by a repair shop’s suppliers.

“If i’m a consumer, I’m going to be very cautious,” said BAR spokesman Russ Heimerich.

We couldn’t get the owner of Don’s Body Repair to return calls to his cell phone.

But after we got involved, BAR managed to get tthe owner to return her Mustang.

What about the money she’s still trying to get from the owner?

“Unless he’s declared bankruptcy, he still has debts to pay,” Heimerich said.

The state said it’s working to get that back for June too.

“I’d say it’s about time,” she said.

We’ve learned the shop’s license has now expired with the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

A leading trade association for body shops said it is not regular business practice to get paid anything up front. A spokesperson said this situation was not respresentative of the industry as a whole.

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