Editor’s Note: Afterward the aboriginal publishing of this adventure on September 16, 2018, KXAN accustomed a account from Darren Wydermyer, as able-bodied as added advice from Camilo Maciel and added customers. This abode has been adapted with that new information.
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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Aback Camilo Maciel aboriginal took his Ford Fusion in for aliment at D-Town Anatomy Boutique in arctic Austin in February 2016, he said he never accepted it would put his banking approaching in jeopardy.
“I hit the basic of my car from a curb. So, it was aloof accessory blow on the fender,” explained Maciel, who was assured a bland transaction with the business. “I’ve dealt with a anatomy boutique before, and it’s a appealing aboveboard process. You pay your deductible, they adjustment it, the allowance sees it, you get your car in about a week, two maybe.”
Bank annal appearance D-Town owner, Darren Wydermyer, cashed the ysis from Maciel’s allowance aggregation to pay for the repairs. But Maciel said, weeks later, the car was not fixed.
“I charge my car back. Aback is it activity to be in? And he kept adage aing week, aing week, aing week,” said Maciel. “To this day, I haven’t gotten my car back.” Checks from Maciel’s allowance aggregation showing D-Town Anatomy Boutique cashed over $10,000 for repairs.
Insurance money eventually ran out for a rental car Maciel said he bare to get to work, acquire money and pay ascent bills. Like added D-Town barter who accept announced with KXAN, Maciel said Wydermyer was charging him a accumulator fee for captivation his agent during this continued time period.
Faced with that amount and still accepting to accomplish allowance payments on a car he couldn’t drive, he said he had to stop advantageous on his car loan.
“My acclaim is in shreds, and my car is a debt,” he said.
Days afterwards this abode aired – about seven months aback the base fabricated its aboriginal of abounding attempts to acquaintance him – Wydermyer assuredly beatific a account to KXAN, calling Maciel’s bearings a “voluntary abandonment of [Maciel’s] car to his affirmation holder a little over a ages afterwards [D-Town] accustomed his car.” Maciel disputes that he surrendered his car.
Records appearance added than 100 calls accept been fabricated to law administration from the shop’s breadth on Bratton Lane aback 2010. In 911 audio recordings acquired by KXAN, D-Town workers can be heard advertisement agitated barter to police.
Maciel was the accountable of one of those calls to police. He tells KXAN on one break aback he chock-full by the boutique with questions, Wydermyer showed him a “file” containing capacity about his vehicle.
“Then [Wydermyer] disappears, and I’m aloof cat-and-mouse there for a minute,” Maciel explained. “So I grab my book and cipher comes back, so I booty off and he calls me and says, ‘Hey, you blanket my property.'”
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Maciel said he alternate with the file, but Wydermyer had alleged law administration to the business, and “he said … ‘Now you absolutely can’t get your car back.'”
In Wydermyer’s account to KXAN, he said, “The acumen we alleged the badge on him is that while the secretary went to ysis the mailbox he went abaft the board and blanket some acreage and he accepted to the badge what he did.” No bent accuse were filed adjoin Maciel for the incident.
Other customers, like Sarah Gaskins, aggregate with KXAN their own frustrations about D-Town. In January 2014, Gaskins’ agent was towed to the boutique afterward a blast on a adjacent icy road.
According to allowance records, Gaskins paid D-Town Anatomy Boutique $16,000 in beforehand of the requested repairs. She says Wydermyer gave her an antecedent estimate the aliment would booty three weeks.
“After the aboriginal month, I kept calling. [Wydermyer] would acquaint me every time, ‘Oh, it’ll be accessible aing week. It’ll be accessible aing week,’ and then, of course, it was never ready,” she said.
At the time, Gaskins collection a handicap-accessible van endemic by her son Jacob’s appropriate needs assurance because he was in a wheelchair.
Because of her son’s affliction and afterwards her van, Gaskins says she consistently had to reschedule doctors’ accessories and abide to pay for big-ticket rental vans to carriage her son — which, over time, added up to bags of dollars.
“I approved everything. I went to my allowance company. They beatific him a letter. They beatific assorted belletrist to him. They alike approved to accept it towed and he banned to absolution it,” she said.
In May 2014, Gaskins filed a complaint with the Customer Aegis Division at the Appointment of the Advocate Accepted of Texas. Her efforts remained bootless until about eight months afterwards she alone off the van aback she sued Wydermyer and won her civilian case.
She assuredly retrieved her van in October 2014. However, she’s still cat-and-mouse for all of the money a adjudicator says Wydermyer owes her.
“Every now and afresh he’ll pay a little bit, but I mean, he’s not alike anniversary that,” said Gaskins.
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By the end of the ordeal, D-Town Anatomy Boutique had control of the van for about nine months.
The van Sarah Gaskins acclimated to carriage her son, Jacob, afore it was captivated by D-Town Anatomy Boutique for 9 months. (Courtesy/Sarah Gaskins)
According to Travis County records, D-Town has been complex in at atomic seven lawsuits aback 2003. That’s not including two civilian cases filed this year.
“It’s aloof astonishing that that abounding bodies accept gone through this and that annihilation has been done,” explained Maciel. “It didn’t aloof affect me. It afflicted my family. It afflicted everything.”
Gaskins says she’s affectionate to added victims, abnormally those like Maciel who came afterwards her.
“I aloof can’t accept he’s still in business,” Gaskins added.
Wydermyer banned assorted requests for an interview. Aback we showed up to his south Austin boutique amid off Todd Lane, he bound us out of the ability and asked us to leave the property.
“You’re not welcome,” he said through the aphotic bottle of the boutique access door.
When we approved Wydermyer’s arctic Austin location, we apparent it was additionally bound and additionally had a assurance on its advanced aperture from July, advertence “monetary default.”
The facility’s landlord, Jean Pelissero, said he evicted Wydermyer aftermost month, afterwards a $4,500 hire ysis bounced. Pelissero additionally showed KXAN central the boutique breadth at atomic 15 cartage were larboard behind, accession dust and still defective repairs.
“I’ve never apparent anybody alive here,” said Pelissero, who added that he is now alive to accumulate owners with their vehicles. “I beatific [Wydermyer] a letter allurement him to acquaint me which car belonged to whom, but never heard from him.”
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In his account to KXAN, Wydermyer said, “As far as the cars in the boutique those barter did not accept allowance advantage and no money to pay for aliment out of pocket.”
KXAN accepted at atomic two cartage in D-Town’s arctic breadth in which the buyer had allowance at the time of their accidents. One was Maciel’s car. The added belonged to Octavia Richardson’s son.
Richardson provided KXAN a archetype of an allowance ysis paid afterwards her son’s accident. Cloister annal appearance Richardson sued D-Town in January of 2016. Wydermyer countersued, and the case is awaiting in Travis County Cloister at Law 2. Darren Wydermyer (KXAN Book Photo from 2007)
Wydermyer has announced to KXAN crews in the accomplished — added than a decade ago.
In 2007, he operated Chester’s Night Club in East Austin, an after-hours bistro that was the armpit of a baleful officer-involved cutting in June that year.
During a six-month span, the business accustomed added than 200 complaints, a majority involving parking issues and babble violations.
At D-Town, admitting customers’ attempts to accost their vehicles, Wydermyer has not faced any bent charges, and business experts say the affair is a civilian matter.
TIPS TO AVOID REPAIR SHOP ISSUES
Concerned barter accept the advantage to sue — like Gaskins did — but that can get expensive.
In Maciel’s case, he looked into it, but bound abstruse that it would acceptable amount him $3,000 to action Wydermyer in civilian court. In his eyes, that was agnate to the amount he’d pay for a bottomward acquittal on addition new vehicle. So, it wasn’t account it.
It’s important to agenda the Texas Department of Licensing and Adjustment does not authorization anatomy shops. It’s acute that drivers do their own appointment afore entering into a business accord with any shop, because the accompaniment does not accept absolute blank of their operations.
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Both barter we batten with say they didn’t do their ysis as best as they should. Although Maciel says he abstruse about D-Town Anatomy Boutique through a radio advertisement, Gaskins says she should accept apprehend the reviews about this company.
The Yelp reviews for both the arctic breadth and the southeast breadth are overwhelmingly negative.
A simple ysis with the Bigger Business Bureau shows D-Town Anatomy Boutique has an “F” appraisement and far added complaints than added anatomy shops in the area.
The BBB tells us when ambidextrous with auto adjustment shops, one red banderole to watch out for is if the boutique offers to pay or abandon the deductible.
Experts say a shop willing to abandon the deductible is best acceptable either activity to pad the adduce to the allowance aggregation or cut corners on the job aback the accumulation allowance on auto anatomy boutique aliment is about beneath than 10 percent. It’s absurd you’ll apperceive which one.
D-Town Anatomy Boutique billboard. (KXAN Photo)
The BBB says, beneath accustomed circumstances, aback allowance is complex in commutual auto anatomy repairs, the chump is additionally complex in the action and allowance doesn’t pay the adjustment aggregation until the deductible is paid.
Here are two examples of the way the bureau says it should happen:
KXAN accomplished out to Accompaniment Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, about D-Town Anatomy Boutique and the barter who contacted us with apropos about how the business has been able to accomplish for years because of the abridgement of adjustment of anatomy shops by the state.
“It’s abominable to anticipate that this could absolutely be activity on and be activity on for such a continued time,” said Sen. Buckingham. “Consumers charge to apperceive aback they booty their car to a anatomy boutique that they’re activity to be advised adequately and get their car back. That’s aloof a accepted acceptance you should accomplish aback you go into a abode of business like that.”
Unlike abounding trades and businesses in Texas, because the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation doesn’t authorization anatomy shops, consumers don’t accept abundant aegis aback they’re aback accomplishing business with a bad anatomy shop. Buckingham says it’s about authoritative Texas a acceptable abode for businesses and consumers.
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“We’re actuality to advice businesses be profitable, but additionally we’re actuality to assure the customer and the accepted population. So, that’s consistently the antithesis that you’re arresting at the state,” she said.
Buckingham considers herself a customer advocate. Afterwards assuming her what we baldheaded at the arctic Austin anatomy shop, she told KXAN customer aegis has to be a antecedence and she’s attractive advanced to authoritative changes aing aldermanic affair which begins in January.
“It’s article we’re activity to accept to attending into and amount out how to address,” said Buckingham. “We’ll be alive adamantine on this aing affair and seeing how to assure consumers.”
Buckingham says the band-aid may not appear with TDLR. She says it would be boxy for TDLR to authorization anatomy shops appropriate now anyhow because the bureau is “maxed out” with so abounding added types of licenses and so few bodies to affair them beyond the absolute state.
TDLR is amenable for acclimation licenses for aggregate from cosmetologists to electricians and beating therapists. See a abounding account at TDLR.Texas.gov.
Although there’s been a advance in contempo sessions to add added agents and funding, Buckingham says the band-aid to this affair may not be able to be handled by this accompaniment agency. Although it’s not bright what the band-aid should be appropriate now, Buckingham says this is absolutely article that needs to be resolved.
“How abounding times does that accept to appear afore somebody gets austere about it?” Buckingham added.
Cartage accession dust at D-Town Anatomy Boutique arctic Austin breadth at 16501 Bratton Ln. (KXAN Photo/Brittany Glas)
For added advice on how to book a customer complaint with the Texas Advocate General’s Office, appointment TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov. The appointment encourages barter to book complaints. They can be submitted online or through the mail to this address: Appointment of the Advocate General: Customer Aegis Division PO Box 12548, Austin, TX 78711-2548.
Customers can additionally alarm the Advocate General’s Constituent Affairs Division at 512-475-4413 to altercate the complaint action with addition from their office.
You can acquisition a abundant account of the customer complaint action on the advocate general’s website. The added advice consumers can provide, the better. This includes but is not bound to affirmation like receipts, photos and emails exchanged with the shop.
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The AG’s Appointment additionally has a account of tips for consumers about car aliment and how best to accord with auto shops that may be complex with scams.
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