Canan auto mechanic work on a car with verbal authorization over the telephone?

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Canan auto mechanic work on a car with verbal authorization over the telephone?

I took my girlfriend.s car in to be looked at. I explained that I only had $330 and they said OKa few days later. The assistant manager had me sigh a written letter giving permission to do the work for $220. I signed it. Then 2 weeks I called them and they told me it will be $1800. I told them I couldn’t pay for that. They said that we have a company and you can make payments. They called me back 2 days later saying that it will cost $2002 instead. I just hung up. Now they want to keep the vehicle.

Asked on April 11, 2011 under General Practice, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Verbal or oral authorization is sufficient for them to do the work; there is no requirement for written authorization.

2) However, you must have given them authorization; they can't say "you need to do this," or "we can help you  finance it" and have that be enough. You need to accept the offer and say something like, "ok, do the work."

3) There are mechanisms under which a mechanic can hold onto a vehicle if the work is not paid for.

4) If you believe they have committed fraud--e.g. lied about how much work or what it would cost to get you in, then started doing work without authorization--you may be able to sue them for the return of the vehicle and/or compensation.

Short answer: informed, affirmative verbal authorization is enough, but without proper authorization or with authorization based on a misrepresentation (e.g. lie), they can't hold you responsible for the work. You should consult with an attorney who can evaluate the entire factual situation in detail and advise you as to your options. Good luck.


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