Expert Smog

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Rat feces / urine damage
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COSTA MESA, CA. -- I brought my wife's GMC Yukon to Expert Smog & Tune inc on Superior Ave, Costa Mesa Ca. to have a routine brake job done.
The next day when my wife and I went to pick up our car, we discovered the rear seat had been folded down, and the release lever handle was bent. When I up righted the seat, I saw small holes chewed in the leather. We also found rat poop and puddles of urine all over.
I brought this mess to the attention of the owner, Brian, and asked that it be cleaned up and the seat section with the chew holes, be replaced. At first he says that it didn't happen in his garage, but I convinced him that it wasn't in this condition when I brought it in. He said that he would check if his insurance would cover the repairs to the seat. The next day he calls me to say that his insurance deductible is $1000, so he can't do it!!! I said the vehicle is not acceptable in this condition, and that my wife refuses to even get near the car... and I don't blame her. There is a health issue here... rat droppings can cause hantavirus. The vehicle isn't safe for anyone to ride in, and I wouldn't want to transfer the contamination to the inside of my home.
I asked if Brian would discount the cost of the brake job, since I will now have to pay extra to get the seat repaired, and the interior sanitized. Brian's response was "That's your problem".

I had to pay an additional $427.00 to get my car repaired and cleaned up to where it was not a health issue to ride in. I gave Brian the opportunity to do the right thing, that is, to offer some consideration for the damage that was caused by his neglect to lock & secure my car. He chose to be rude and switched back to denying that the rat mess happen in his garage. I refused to pay him, and he threatened to sue. So I filed a defendants counter-suit in Small Claims Court.
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User Replies:
MDSasquatch on 03/26/2010:
Maybe I am missing something here, but are you trying to imply that a rat bent the seat lever? I can understand the chewing, peeing and pooping, but bending metal is beyond the ability of most rats I have seen.

Small Claims is the way to go, I hope you have photo documentation.
Skye on 03/26/2010:
Wow, this is really bizarre. I don't even know how to respond. I guess as MD says, try small claims court.

Good luck!
TheMightyBoosh on 03/26/2010:
Yes! Small claims court! Awesome! I wish I could see Brian's face when he got that notice :)
madconsumer on 03/26/2010:
do rats eat leather? how long was the vehicle at this shop??

unless the poster can prove there was no damage prior to the vehicle being taken to this shop, there won't be much of a case.
Anonymous on 03/26/2010:
Rats chew threw almost anything.
I'd like to see the pictures of this.
Starlord on 03/27/2010:
I feel for the OP, but I don't believe it happened at the shop. I used to work at a brake and muffler shop in my younger days. Believe me, there is nothing to attract rats in one of these shops. You can file in Small Claims court, In the US, anyone can sue for anything, but IMHO, you will be wasting your money. Even with the reduced proof ion civil court, you cannot prove the car did not have that damage prior to taking it to the shop. The loser has to pay their costs, plus the winner's costs. If the shop owner countersues and wins, you also lose that money, too. Think it over, hard. In addition, you couild have identified Brian, One can assume he is the manager of the shop, but one never knows.
fordeltafox on 03/28/2010:
Hey Starlord, thanks for you input, but to say that the rat damage didn't happen in the brake shop over night, just because you worked for a brake service company some time ago, sounds a bit ridiculous. The vehicle was cleaned out of all kids backpacks books, personal items etc.. immediately before I brought it into the brake shop. The important thing is that the damage happened while my Yukon was in the care of the brake shop personnel. Also, why would the shop owner offer to consult his insurance policy to see if it covered the damage, if he truly believed it didn't happen at his shop... plus the bench seat was folded down, maybe a poor effort to conceal the damage??? I'll let the Judge decide.
A Sincere "Thank You" to all that posted encouraging and supportive comments.
fordeltafox on 03/28/2010:
Starlord...In response to your ending statement of your comment, please read the second paragraph, third line in my original review. It starts with..." I brought this mess to the attention of the...

Now tell me, you have any clue as to who "Brian" is now...LOL.
Starlord on 03/28/2010:
Brian could have been the janitor at the shop for all I knew. To suddenly see a name with no idea who you were referring to just jarred me a bit. I still contend that the chances of rat invading your vehicle while it was in the shop for how long, Overnight? Just is not reasonable. In all the time I worked for a brake and muffler shop, I never saw one rat or any evidence of any. I am still entitled to my opinion, ma'am.
fordeltafox on 03/28/2010:
Starlord... Even after I pointed it out to you that in the second paragraph, third line... that begins with " I brought this mess to the attention of the owner, Brian... " you still can't figure out who Brian is... good grief...
yes... you certainly are entitled to your opinion, I think,...just maybe your working in that brake and muffler shop has had some adverse effect on you ability to understand the printed word. Once again... the only time that I didn't have possession and control of my vehicle, was during the 24 hour time frame that it was in the brake shop... rats are nocturnal... they become active at night... simple logical deductive reasoning... For some of us,'s not that difficult to understand. especially when it's right there in black & white...LOL!!
Thanks Starlord, I appreciate you input.
jktshff1 on 03/28/2010:
Got to side with Starlord, this seems a little "suspicious".
Anonymous on 03/28/2010:
fordeltafox, I do believe this could happen at any business. Rats are everywhere. If someone eats their lunch and leaves bits about, or in an open container, then that would certainly attract them at night. Everyone is not that neat and tidy, after all. They will chew through anything and also eat just about anything. If there were "puddles" of urine, that should have pretty much shown where the damage occurred. If it had happened at your home before the car was brought in, it would have been dry.

The company should have reimbursed you on the spot. When the owner signed up for insurance with a $1,000 deductible, they were accepting the fact that they could pay up to that amount for small claims. Good luck in small claims court!
fordeltafox on 03/29/2010:
Marymc, thank you for making a very good point about the puddles of urine being fresh. Yes.. I have photos of this, and I will certainly bring it up at the trial. The seat that sustained the most damage is where my daughter usually sits to eat her after school snacks on the way home from school. There could have easily been crumbs of candy or popcorn wedged in between the seat and the back rest, which is what I believe the rats were after. In the 7 years that we have owned this vehicle, not once has it ever had an invasion of rodents... even with all the food crumbs that drop on the seats and floor over time. Not once... that is until it spent one night at Expert Smog & Tune's garage.
When the shop owner, Brian, agreed to consult his liability insurance coverage, he was at least giving me the benefit of the doubt that the damage could have happened in his shop ... at first anyway. He later changed his mind when he found that he had a $1000. deductible.
Thanks Marymc for providing me with strong evidence to support my case.
PepperElf on 03/29/2010:
yum yum. >:-\

personally I'm thinking if the business is infested with rats, perhaps a friendly word to the local authorities to see what the local laws are for situations like that.

or... a word to the local media. cos I'm sure the business would not like it being made public that they had gotten your car full of rat excrement.
Anonymous on 03/29/2010:
Thanks, fordeltafox. I hope you get your money back. They may just pay you before they go to court.

Pepperelf, good point about the local authorities and the local media. Sometimes a bit of bad publicity is all it takes for some consumers to get their money reimbursed promptly. News stations always have those consumer "helpers". Good idea.
jstasur on 04/15/2010:
Sorry about your problem with rats, but I must say that I've been an exceptionally satisfied customer of Expert Smog & Tune for years. Brian has proven to be the most honest and reliable mechanic I've ever used. In the past he has checked my vehicle for several problems that he could have 'soaked' me (financially) for; but, instead, he recommended less expensive fixes if I wanted to save some money (I.e., leaking heater core - in the middle of the summer - he said he could simply reroute the heater hose & I could wait until winter to replace the heater; to which I said, "Yes, absolutely!" For this he charged me $15.00. HE IS AWESOME! This is just one example. A couple of yrs. ago I got a quote for brakes from Firestone, $1250.00. I took my car to Brian; he did all the work Firestone suggested for $675.00! Perhaps, from now on, I'll put rat traps in my car when I leave it with Brian, but I will ALWAYS go back to this 'saintly' mechanic!
PepperElf on 04/15/2010:
jst - just don't leave any cheese in the back seat...

jstasur on 04/15/2010:
Well, the plot thickens! I just called Brian & told him I had found this complaint while looking for his phone number online. He told me that this vehicle in question had been stored inside, up on a hoist, overnight. Kind of hard to believe a rat could scale the greasy hydraulic post. (Of course, in fairness, it could have happened b4 it went up on the hoist) He says the customer's REAL problem arose from a tire on the vehicle that blew out on the mechanic's test drive. I can't say who's right; all I know is that there is NO OTHER auto repair shop that I'd recommend than EXPERT SMOG & TUNE.
fordeltafox on 04/29/2010:
Mission accomplished... we settled the case. Once Brian saw the evidence (repair bills, photos, witness).. he agreed that I had spent more money & time to repair the seat & clean up the rat poop, than the cost of his brake job. So it was a "break even" situation. We were both out the "court cost". My Thanks to all that responded to the postings...
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