By Kurtis Ming

RIO LINDA (CBS13) — Imagine having a repair shop take in your cell phone for repairs and never return it!

John Gonzalez said he couldn’t get his daughter’s iPhone 5 back. He wanted the store to reconfigure his phone so it would work with another cell company.

But instead, he said the store tried to give him a different phone with broken buttons.

Left with an empty iPhone box, Gonzalez said Sacramento’s Central Wireless cell phone repair store wouldn’t return the phone more than a month after he dropped it off.

“It was in perfectly working condition,” he said.

John said the owner claimed one of his former employees stole it.

He said the owner offered an iPhone with missing buttons — but only if Gonzalez paid $125 to have it fixed.

“I felt really sick to my stomach,” he said.

When Gonzalez pushed back, he said the owner told him to take him to court.

“I’ve never been this helpless before,” he said. “He’s holding all the cards.”

In California, all businesses that repair cell phones must be licensed by the state’s Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair. We’ve learned Central Wireless is not.

“It appears that they’re operating illegally,” he said.

And the state’s Russ Heimerich said stores must post their licenses so you can see them.

“A lot of appliance repair stores don’t know that they need to be licensed,” he said.

“He just doesn’t care,” Gonzalez said of the store owner.

The manager at Central Wireless admitted to us he didn’t have a license, but said they want to follow the law and will look into it.

After we got involved, the store agreed to give Gonzalez a refurbished replacement at no charge and apologized.

“I don’t want somebody to go through what I’m going through right now,” he said.

The state said phone repair stores that are not licensed can be fined.

As of this afternoon, Central Wireless is still not licensed, according to the state’s website.

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