Here is the sad sad story of how to lose $400 by being gullible. I hope my readers learn from my mistake. (Also, if you know of anyone who has had a similar experience, please encourage them to report it to the police. I have.)
Two men approached me in the Target Brea parking lot on Wednesday, May 23rd. The man who spoke with me was Caucasian and said his name was Mike M. from Bumper to Bumper Auto Body Repairs. He wore a blue jumpsuit with his name and the name of the shop printed over the pocket. He had tools in the car and said that he worked at the shop over in Arcadia but was trying to pick up some extra work on the side due to the tough economic times. He was friendly, likeable, and inspired trust. His partner was Hispanic, didn't ever speak, and wore jeans and white t-shirt. Mike said they could fix the (fairly significant) dents/scratches in my van for $350. He said that they would come to my house or anywhere I chose, do the repair, and then wash/detail my car. He said I wouldn’t pay anything until the work was done and I was satisfied.
They drove a white vehicle that looked brand new. It had a CARMAX sticker on the front windshield, which stated the VIN as 2A4RR4DEXAR368715.
I was told that they could only do the work this afternoon, but I declined, saying that I couldn’t make a decision without asking my husband. Then they gave me a phone number and asked me to call them if I changed my mind. After speaking with Gabe, I did call them and asked if they could come the following day instead. They agreed to come the next morning at 11am.
They came out about an hour later than stated, around 12pm on Thursday, May 24th. Thomas and Siah and I watched for about 20 minutes, and they did seem to know what they were doing. Mike told me that he had grown up in the business because his father had owned a shop. Eventually I left to go feed my kids their lunch. When I came back out (approximately 2 hours after they started work), all the work was covered in a gummy substance, which Mike told me was “wax” that needed to stay on and dry for a couple of hours. He said it would easily wash off after that.
They asked me to pay them $500, since it “took so much longer than expected”. That made me mad, especially since they hadn’t washed the car (and apparently couldn’t, because the wax needed to dry?) I did pay them $400, which I am seriously regretting now.
I paid them with a check, although they definitely would have preferred cash. They gave me a drivers license so I’d know who to make it out to – supposedly it belonged to the Hispanic man. The name on the license was Michael W. Nicholas, and the number was D6914526. They then asked for directions to the nearest bank where they could cash my check.
Mike assured me that if there were any problems, I only needed to call and they’d come back out and take care of it. I kept the number in my phone (626-235-3749). A few days after the repair, I called to ask him to come back out since the “wax” wouldn’t come off and the dents/scratches were still there. He said he was out of town, and to call him back in two days. I did so, and the phone number no longer works.
It is embarrassing to admit to this level of gullibility, but I'm putting this online in the hopes that it helps someone else avoid my mistake. And again, if this has happened to you, CALL THE POLICE. Both departments which I spoke with were very kind and helpful in taking the report.