Adrianne Kovacs can't get to her Mazda because the shop working on her car went out of business. She dropped it off for an oil change at the Meineke in the U-District in mid-December. Kovacs said a technician called her back with bad news.
“He said, I think you need a new motor and I'm going to call you on the 26th and then (I’ll) find you a new motor and then we can go and put that in,” recalled Kovacs.
Kovacs never got a call, so she stopped by the shop and saw a sign posted on the door that said:
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, Meineke Car Care will be closed Monday, December 30 through Wednesday, January 1. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Kovacs’ only set of keys were in the building and Meineke Corporate couldn't get the doors open.
“I don't know how long it's going to stay here. I don't know what to do. That's why I called you,” said Kovacs.
I learned the Meineke franchise owner went bankrupt. Kovacs called the corporate offices and got nowhere. I tracked down the owner of the building, who helped Kovacs get her keys. When she popped the hood of her car, she was shocked to discover most of her parts were missing.
Kelly Stanton owned this Meineke franchise. Stanton’s attorney says her client told his crews to finish all work and return all of the vehicles by December 28. She claims Stanton told Meineke Corporate how to contact the employees to return the keys and the cars to customers, but corporate never did.
I spoke with Jason Shackleford at Stingray Auto Repair. He told me a garage should have insurance to cover this kind of loss, but not every shop has it.
“That is a huge risk for the consumer. If their car gets wrecked and the shop owner is not a decent person that will step up and take care of it, the consumer could just be out and have to rely on their insurance to take care of it,” explained Shackleford.
Stanton said he believes he has a policy to handle a claim, but Jason took it one step further.
“We can put her car back together for her at no charge, just as courtesy for someone who has been burned to help restore faith in our industry,” announced Shackleford.
Meineke Corporate failed to return multiple phone calls about this case. Bottom line: make sure the garage you deal with has garage keepers or liability insurance. If not, you'll be the one fixing your car twice.