Dear Consumer Ed:
I paid for repair services completed on my car. Three days later the dealership said they made a mistake and that I owe them another $695. I thought the matter was settled when I paid the amount on the bill, received a receipt for payment, and took possession of my vehicle. If I don’t pay this additional amount, can the mechanic sue me for it?
Consumer Ed says:
If you believe you are being wrongly charged or overcharged, the first thing you should do is contact the dealership for an itemized bill or further explanation of these extra charges. It is usually in everyone’s best interest to attempt to resolve these disputes outside of the courtroom. It is possible that after discussing the matter with the dealership, it may decide to reduce or even completely waive the second bill.
If, on the other hand, the dealership insists on charging you the increased amount, and you decide to withhold payment, there is a statutory procedure for the dealership to file a lien against your car for an unpaid debt (regardless of whether or not a contract exists)—even though you have taken possession of the vehicle. If that occurs, it is wise to promptly consult with a private attorney so that you understand your rights and responsibilities.
It is difficult to anticipate every potential issue that may arise in a legal proceeding over the disputed charges. However, if the court ultimately finds that a valid debt exists for the unpaid invoice, you would be required to pay that debt or possibly risk your vehicle being repossessed to cover the debt owed.
Submit your own question to Consumer Ed. Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.