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  #1  
Old May 27th, 2016, 02:34 PM
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Chris H.
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Nightmare shop situation - advice needed

Let me start by saying that, as someone who works with and for small business owners all day everyday, I would NEVER try to damage someone's reputation if I thought they were doing their best to serve their clients.

In December, I shopped around the east coast for someone who could do a frame swap on my '97 D90. I got quotes from eight different shops (you can probably guess which ones) from Maine to Florida, which ranged from $4,285 plus the frame from a shop in NC to as much as $20,000 from a shop in FL.

It came to my attention that a couple of years ago, a local guy had opened a shop servicing Land Rover vehicles semi-exclusively. The thought of not having to transport my truck far to have the work done was appealing, so I emailed to see if they could do the work. To my surprise, the owner said the work could be done, and even quoted me a price (not including the cost of the frame) of $1,600 and a turnaround time of about 3 days if things were to go smoothly. He said this based on having done "two or three frame swaps" in the past.

If that sounds too good to be true, it's because it is. But, as you may have guessed, I agreed to let him do the work. I knew the odds of him having it done in 3 days were virtually nil, but I was also willing to wait two or three weeks, because I felt like I was getting a good deal on the work. Then my patience got stretched to the limit.


He ordered the frame, I paid him about $4,000 for the parts up front, dropped the truck off Tuesday, March 8th....and the rest has unfolded as folllows...

He has spent the last TWELVE weeks over-promising and under-delivering, while pushing work on my truck back for other jobs, lying to me about progress having been made, not communicating, not sending progress photos as requested, etc., etc., etc. This includes being told on 3/31/16 that he was working to have the truck put back together for me to pick up that weekend only to be told by his tech on 4/13/16 that the body hadn't even come off the chassis yet and that it was a long way from being put on the lift. I have been told repeatedly that he would try to have it done by "the weekend." Every weekend for about six weeks.



This is a link to an overview of the correspondence I've had with the shop owner, his tech, and my friend Robbie who has been pretty interested in keeping up with this as it continues to unfold.


Please take a second to look at that summary just to get an idea of what I've been dealing with.


I also have all of the emails saved if anyone would like more context, tone, or even corroboration of what I've documented here. I've not posted any of those in an effort to keep the name of the shop and its owner out of the conversation in the event that the consensus here is that I'm overreacting.

And this is an album with screenshots of the text messages referenced in the summary above. These are just to corroborate the text messages cited in the summary above, so there's some redundancy here.



So, what do I do? The last time I spoke with the shop, my truck was essentially in pieces, so just going down there to get it doesn't seem like an option.

I think I've been more than patient with this guy, but I don't know. Am I being pushy? If he had told me up front it would take this long, I'd be more understanding, but the excuses and lack of communication and complete failure to deliver on even basic courtesy at this point really has me at the end of my rope.

How would you proceed if you were in my shoes? Sorry for the long read. As you can imagine, I have a lot to say about this. Trying to keep things concise hasn't gone well for me.



I figure my options at this point are:
  • Continue this routine of prodding until the job is done
  • Sit here and be mad
  • Leave one star reviews on Yelp/Google/Yahoo with the above explanation with the hope of deleting those reviews when all is resolved
  • Keep my mouth shut, as I have done for the last three weeks, and hope for the best
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  #2  
Old May 27th, 2016, 02:41 PM
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Why do you go through a person just to talk to a shop?

What prevents you from going to the shop yourself?

Who is this robbie person?

Did you pay robbie or did you pay the shop?

Have you ever been to the shop?

Why are you going through "robbie" and not going to the shop yourself?

Who promised the low price and fast work, the shop or "robbie"?

Why did you go through "robbie" to work with the shop as opposed to working with the shop directly?

Who did you give money to, "robbie" or the shop?

Why did you give money to "robbie" or the shop as opposed to parts?

Why did you decide to go ahead with the work when the estimate was unrealistic?
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  #3  
Old May 27th, 2016, 02:41 PM
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If he's local have you been and spoken to him face to face?

Lots of situations get sorted out by talking face to face.
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  #4  
Old May 27th, 2016, 02:42 PM
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Very frustrating indeed.

What kind of documentation do you have around the quote and payment?

I'm thinking from a legal perspective...
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  #5  
Old May 27th, 2016, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leastonce View Post
If he's local have you been and spoken to him face to face?

Lots of situations get sorted out by talking face to face.
I have not spoken with him in person since the day I dropped the truck off. I've driven by a couple of times after hours (shop is on the other side of town and my work schedule isn't flexible) because he told me he worked late most weekdays, but I've never seen the garage open.

My intention has been to give him a couple of weeks of space...going on three now, and visit the shop next week if he hasn't contacted me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jperakis View Post
Very frustrating indeed.

What kind of documentation do you have around the quote and payment?

I'm thinking from a legal perspective...





------ Follow up post added May 27th, 2016 03:51 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonoronos View Post
Why do you go through a person just to talk to a shop?

What prevents you from going to the shop yourself?

Who is this robbie person?

Did you pay robbie or did you pay the shop?

Have you ever been to the shop?

Why are you going through "robbie" and not going to the shop yourself?

Who promised the low price and fast work, the shop or "robbie"?

Why did you go through "robbie" to work with the shop as opposed to working with the shop directly?

Who did you give money to, "robbie" or the shop?

Why did you give money to "robbie" or the shop as opposed to parts?

Why did you decide to go ahead with the work when the estimate was unrealistic?



Sorry, I realize some things get lost in a post like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TNRoverGuy View Post
and my friend Robbie who has been pretty interested in keeping up with this as it continues to unfold.
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  #6  
Old May 27th, 2016, 02:54 PM
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You will get a range of answers here. Maybe even the one you want to hear.

Face tonface may help, or you may get lied to, to your face.

You paid up front, you did not get service. How is hounding them or getting legal assistance over-reacting? How is not naming the shop benefitting you?

How bad do you want it to get? You have already lost the use of truck, and may even take a hit on money or parts to finish.

Either go get your truck and parts with a flatbed, file, liens, or talk to them and get all details in writing, timelines and payment schedules, and maybe insist the shop produce payment and performance bonds, or have your home/auto insurance people get involved.

(The above is my opinion. Other forum members may differ)
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  #7  
Old May 27th, 2016, 02:55 PM
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Chris,

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Here's my 2 cents worth.

First thing is tell us, (the forum) the name of the shop so others can beware. I've had both good and bad deals when dealing with venders. I post my results both good and bad for others to see.
I also ask the members for advise when getting work done or buying parts.
Now you are in a bind and that sucks. I would go for a visit and talk face to face.
Hope it gets worked out.

Eric
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  #8  
Old May 27th, 2016, 02:57 PM
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$1600 for a frame swap should have been a red flag...
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  #9  
Old May 27th, 2016, 03:05 PM
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The whole "face-to-face will get you the truth" is just not the case - I've been lied to plenty of times, to my face, at various reputable and non-reputable shops. I've gotten the truth (and lies) via phone and text message and email from managers and techs alike.

Agree that the red flag is the super cheap price, but we all look for low cost. Give the dude a gentle ultimatum and if he balks, then go pick up your truck. If he doesn't pay you back your cash, your only real recourse is legal action. Certainly I'd try to work it out without the law being involved.
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  #10  
Old May 27th, 2016, 03:19 PM
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Visit in person, if truck has not been started, call rollback to load frame which you have paid for, depart with your truck and frame. Too much time has elapsed. All shops can and do have issues- try finding competent help to work on these rigs. But the communication is the problem, and the price unrealistic.

If the Defender is apart, I still recommend the above, but you will need a very knowledgable Defender person to ensure you get all your parts and that none have been damaged!!

Lastly, when you get prices varying 400%, start over with a written request for the work being done, and confirm the shops knowledge. However, when you find a price one third of the already low price, expect problems... The irony is if a frame is toast requiring a new one, expect several other items to be needing replacement. My guess is that is where the variance on initial pricing happened. If you request a frame swap, you may get quoted for same. Once discussions start and your knowledge grows as to what else is likely involved, or potentially so, the job quoted becomes apples and oranges between shops- depending how busy they are, they may have not discussed all the eventualities. Who's issue does this become- the shop for quoting what you requested, or yours for not knowing what all can/will be involved?
As is usually the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle...

As for this particular case, get the truck out of there before lots of things get torn up, and in your spare time read about ULC in Atlanta.....
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Old May 27th, 2016, 03:27 PM
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Is this where your truck is?

https://www.facebook.com/evolutionmo...lle/?pnref=lhc
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  #12  
Old May 27th, 2016, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDN38 View Post
The screen shots from his phone show Rovers Unlimited https://www.rovers-unlimited.com/home.html

Same place, same pic, same name. DBA (doing business as) Evolution Motorsports


Scratch them off my list....
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  #13  
Old May 27th, 2016, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KGH View Post
You will get a range of answers here. Maybe even the one you want to hear.

Face tonface may help, or you may get lied to, to your face.

You paid up front, you did not get service. How is hounding them or getting legal assistance over-reacting? How is not naming the shop benefitting you?

How bad do you want it to get? You have already lost the use of truck, and may even take a hit on money or parts to finish.

Either go get your truck and parts with a flatbed, file, liens, or talk to them and get all details in writing, timelines and payment schedules, and maybe insist the shop produce payment and performance bonds, or have your home/auto insurance people get involved.

(The above is my opinion. Other forum members may differ)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CavemanDiesel View Post
Chris,

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Here's my 2 cents worth.

First thing is tell us, (the forum) the name of the shop so others can beware. I've had both good and bad deals when dealing with venders. I post my results both good and bad for others to see.
I also ask the members for advise when getting work done or buying parts.
Now you are in a bind and that sucks. I would go for a visit and talk face to face.
Hope it gets worked out.

Eric
I appreciate both of these answers, and agree that an in-person visit is probably for the best.

Like I said, I was trying to avoid bringing the name of the shop into it until I got confirmation that I wasn't out of line by being so frustrated. Once these things are brought up, sometimes they can be misunderstood long after a situation has been resolved amicably (see the recently revived Congleton thread), so I didn't want to get ahead of myself.

For the reference of others, this is Rovers Unlimited here in Knoxville, and if someone here has had great experiences with them, I apologize for stepping on any toes. Until this is resolved, however, I can't recommend their service.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Z.G View Post
$1600 for a frame swap should have been a red flag...
Fair to say that allowing this shop to do the work was a poor judgment call on my part, and I understand I'm opening myself up to some scrutiny. Just trying to figure out how to proceed.

------ Follow up post added May 27th, 2016 04:46 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by rovertrader View Post
Visit in person, if truck has not been started, call rollback to load frame which you have paid for, depart with your truck and frame. Too much time has elapsed. All shops can and do have issues- try finding competent help to work on these rigs. But the communication is the problem, and the price unrealistic.

If the Defender is apart, I still recommend the above, but you will need a very knowledgable Defender person to ensure you get all your parts and that none have been damaged!!

Lastly, when you get prices varying 400%, start over with a written request for the work being done, and confirm the shops knowledge. However, when you find a price one third of the already low price, expect problems... The irony is if a frame is toast requiring a new one, expect several other items to be needing replacement. My guess is that is where the variance on initial pricing happened. If you request a frame swap, you may get quoted for same. Once discussions start and your knowledge grows as to what else is likely involved, or potentially so, the job quoted becomes apples and oranges between shops- depending how busy they are, they may have not discussed all the eventualities. Who's issue does this become- the shop for quoting what you requested, or yours for not knowing what all can/will be involved?
As is usually the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle...

As for this particular case, get the truck out of there before lots of things get torn up, and in your spare time read about ULC in Atlanta.....
Thanks for your input. The quotes I got did come with the same discussion, to some degree, from each shop about what to expect, the process involved, variables, etc.

From the communication with the tech at Rovers Unlimited, it seems my truck was basically ready for the lift, and then ended up stuck behind another vehicle with suspension parts on backorder. I do know, based on photos received, that it (mine) was in the process of being torn down, so if this isn't resolved, a flatbed might be my only option.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CDN38 View Post
As was mentioned, this is the same place, but now DBA Rovers Unlimited.

Here's there facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/roversunlimited/

I'm not on facebook, and haven't seen this page until today, but from their photos on there, it does look like my truck has migrated over to the lift. That's encouraging.
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  #14  
Old May 27th, 2016, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNRoverGuy View Post
I


Fair to say that allowing this shop to do the work was a poor judgment call on my part, and I understand I'm opening myself up to some scrutiny. Just trying to figure out how to proceed..
Definitely wasn't blaming you, probably would have fallen for the same thing. Good luck with getting your truck back!
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Old May 27th, 2016, 03:49 PM
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Well you've taken the first step by maintaining documentation.

Face to face with a witness. Don't go alone.
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  #16  
Old May 27th, 2016, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z.G View Post
Definitely wasn't blaming you, probably would have fallen for the same thing. Good luck with getting your truck back!
No worries. Thanks!
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  #17  
Old May 27th, 2016, 04:22 PM
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My two cents - Even if it gets done, the guy is going to rush through the job and probably make a mess of it. He has made a million promises just like the ones he made you, and can probably never catch up. It will be a hack and thrash job with pinched wires, snapped bolts etc.

I would try and get the parts you paid for, or full reimbursement, and run to a shop that gave you a reasonable estimate. Edit -even if it is in parts when you pick it up.
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Old May 27th, 2016, 04:23 PM
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Sucks to be in that situation. Blame is irrelevant. How do you move forward?

There isn't any way to swap a frame on one of these trucks without requiring a host of additional parts, many of which you don't really know for sure until you are well into the job. That requires a shop to carry a LOT of inventory of very specific expensive parts, or, spend a ton of money bringing in things specifically for the job (and hopefully in an efficient timely manner). In other words, nobody could do a frame swap on this truck in 3 days, realistically, unless they had close to enough spares right there to build another one, especially if the frame has a lot of corrosion.

Think of it like renovating a house. You know what you want to do, you can get an estimate, but you really don't know what is going to happen, or truly what it will cost until you start opening up the walls and find out what lies beneath.

The shop it truly puling one over on you (in the beginning telling you what you wanted to hear, and not what you needed to know). Not to mention, it's quite possible they are way over their heads with this project and don't have the experience or means to complete it.

My advice (it's not pretty) take the frame you have paid for, your truck, and the parts that have been removed and find a reputable shop to complete the work. It's unfortunate that things are at this point, but do you really have any confidence that they can complete the job, and more importantly complete it properly?

It's a harsh reality, but you are talking about a frame swap on a rare expensive vehicle.

As some one once said "If you think a professional is expensive, just wait to see what an amateur will cost you."
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Old May 27th, 2016, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNRoverGuy View Post
Let me start by saying that, as someone who works with and for small business owners all day everyday, I would NEVER...
I am appalled that you have worked yourself up to post all your woes on a public forum when the shop is nearly on your front door step.

If this is as important as you suggest, you need to make arrangements to take time off from work, drive across town and work these things out in person... Not through some intermediary.

I think all too often people watch a TV show showing a frame off type of restoration being dome in about 3 days.
What you don't see on the screen are the 230 people working around the clock so the whole thing could be filmed and presented to the audience during a 30 minute interval.
A frame off is just not trivial, so why did you think it was?
Just suppose the holes aren't drilled right for the motor mounts and the exhaust mounts don't line up with the original frame.
What if the wiring connections are bad and need to be re-soldered?
What if the exhaust studs break?
What if all the brake lines break and have to be replaced?
How do you know they are not trying their hardest, but have now dug themselves into a fixed price hole, they can't climb out of?
Is it just tough shit from your perspective, ie I better get my car back perfect or I am going to a lawyer up no matter how bad it is for your shop to complete ?
This scenario was a low cost attempt underbid and too good to be true with a probable failure outcome before it even started.

Go down there and work it out!

And best of luck, I hope it turns out to be a happy ending.
The more cooperative both parties are, the easier a solution will be reached.
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  #20  
Old May 27th, 2016, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdavisinva View Post
Is it just tough shit from your perspective, ie I better get my car back perfect or I am going to a lawyer up no matter how bad it is for your shop to complete ?

No.




I'm also hoping it turns out well. One thing I should say is that the owner of the shop is a nice guy. He's been apologetic and friendly. I just feel like my patience has been taken advantage of, and my reason for expressing frustration here on this forum is to gain the insight of others, all of which is appreciated.

Certainly I didn't meant to imply any intent to "lawyer up" and put a small business in a bad position.
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