Managing Debt

Can a Repair Shop I Didn’t Use Send Me to Collections?

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A reader recently asked if his son could be held responsible for paying for car parts that a repair shop ordered after his son visited their shop for an estimate, which he received.

…they went ahead and ordered the parts, but he went another route to fix the vehicle and doesn’t need the parts now. The shop wants him to pay for them and are threatening him with taking him to a collection agency..Can they do this..?.He did not sign a repair agreement or any invoice. they claim they are stuck with the parts….

Consumer protection lawyer Robert Brennan said that as long as the son didn’t sign anything, he shouldn’t owe the shop. However, the threat to call debt collectors is not one to be taken lightly. “If the matter is sent to collections, use your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act to avoid the negative credit or debt collection consequences,” he advised.

It’s a good idea to pull copies of your credit reports (you can get one annually from each of the three big credit reporting agencies) to see if this is being reported. If so, it could affect your credit scores (you can use free tools at Credit.com to see where you stand). Should the repair shop bill or a collections account show up, you can dispute the item right away.

If your son has a copy of the estimate, keep it. Also keep copies of any other correspondence with the car repair shop, debt collector or credit-reporting agencies. If you receive a “demand letter,” (and you will if it has been turned over to a legitimate collection agency), ask for validation of the debt. While it can be difficult to prove a debt isn’t yours, careful record keeping can help.

“However, please bear in mind that if he did sign something, like a repair estimate, depending on the language of the repair estimate, he may have obligated himself for the parts,” Brennan said.

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  • heavyw8t

    I am surprised that the shop would order parts without a deposit, which is usually non-refundable, and also surprised that the shop would order them without him signing anything. Also I wonder how unique and exotic these parts are that the shop thinks they will never use them. Unless they ordered something like a muffler for a 1959 VW Microbus…

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