Contact 2: Consumer lessons abound after classic car repair dispute

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TROY, Mo. – There are memories tied to the metal that makes up this 1951 Chevy Truck. But not all the memories are good.

“It was a horrific accident. He died at the scene,” said Tammy Fehr.

Fehr lost her oldest son in 2007. She found hope in one day giving her late son’s prized project truck to his younger brother as a high school graduation gift.

“The truck is all we have. It’s the material thing we can look at, that we can touch, that we can be a part of,” she said.

The truck needed work. The family called Troy, Missouri mechanic Vance Dillon.

“He came and looked at the truck, agreed on the price of $10,000,” Fehr said.

Despite never having a contract in writing, the family began making payments, trusting Dillon’s Automotive to get the vehicle road ready. They paid the shop $9,000.

Nearly two years later, Fehr says the truck has a different frame, bed, tailgate, motor, transmission, and paint job but it doesn’t run. Unhappy with the progress, she retrieved the truck from the shop. Now she wants her money back.

“I can’t just drop this. This is the memory of my son,” Fehr said.

Contact 2’s Mike Colombo went to the shop to get Dillon’s side of the story. Colombo asked Dillon if he stood by the $9,000 worth of work he said he’d done to the truck.

“I stand behind that we did $9,000 plus worth of work, not counting any labor to that truck,” Dillon said.

Dillon says he told the family it would cost at least $15,000 to do the job but admits he took it on for $10,000.

“Because we were friends I agreed to do it but I wish I wouldn’t have done it,” he said.

“I gave Vance Dillon’s automotive the opportunity to do what was right and there’s been no contact. Obviously, they’re not going to,” Fehr said.

Maybe there’s hope the story doesn’t end this way?

“I’m sorry for the loss of your son and I hope we can resolve our differences,” Dillon said.

Playing the blame game in a situation like this is difficult, especially with such an emotional case. As a rule of thumb, you should always try to get a written agreement that lays out the work being done and the cost for parts and labor before the project starts. It’s a good way for consumers and businesses to protect themselves.

We’ll keep you posted on any developments in this case.

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