State accuses auto repair shop owner of violations
The owner of a Quincy auto repair shop is facing possible discipline from the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs.
The Bureau of Automotive Repair has accused Corey’s Automotive & Smog owner Jim Corey of 25 violations stemming from four customer complaints dating back to September 2009.
Many of the violations reportedly occurred during an undercover operation by the bureau.
Corey is scheduled to have a hearing before an administrative law judge May 23 – 24, 2012, in Sacramento.
According to a 23-page document by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), dated Aug. 31, Corey is accused of “dishonesty, fraud or deceit” and other violations associated with repair work performed at his East Quincy shop.
During a Wednesday, Dec. 7, interview at his business, Corey insisted he is innocent of the accusations. But he said the charges alone would put him out of business.
“Even though I haven’t committed a crime, it’s the seriousness of the charges that people will pay attention to,” Corey said. “And people are going to say to me, ‘Well, if you didn’t do it, why are they going after you? You must have done something or they wouldn’t be going after you.’
“But it’s all hearsay,” he said. “The people that made the complaints won’t even come to court.”
Consumer Affairs spokesman Glenn Mason said his office conducted an undercover operation at Corey’s business in response to the consumer complaints.
“Every complaint we get is investigated,” Mason said. “If we get a number of complaints, we send in an undercover unit.”
According to the report, BAR sent an undercover 1994 Ford Explorer to Corey’s shop Sept. 29, 2010. The report stated the violations identified during that operation accounted for 13 of the 25 “causes for discipline” identified in the state’s accusations.
“The reason we (go undercover) is that anybody can complain about a repairman if they feel they aren’t treated well. We know that,” Mason said. “That’s why we investigated this ourselves.”
Mason said the undercover operations are “very thorough.” He said vehicles used are thoroughly checked out at the BAR lab and documented. Photos are taken of all the parts that might be examined by a mechanic.
“We know exactly what is wrong with a car when we take it in,” Mason said.
According to the Bureau of Auto Repair report, the work that needed to be done on the undercover Ford Explorer was replacement of the following components: the left front brake rotor, the right rear brake drum, one marker lamp bulb and the high-beam indicator bulb.
On Sept. 29, 2010, a bureau employee took the Explorer to Corey’s and requested a brake, lamp and smog inspection.
A verbal estimate from Corey of $260 was agreed upon for the inspection.
The agent later was told the Explorer didn’t pass the inspection because both front rotors and brake pads needed to be replaced and the anti-lock brake system (ABS) had a problem that required further diagnosis.
The report also stated the vehicle failed the lamp inspection because the high-beam indicator and right front marker lamp were not working. The vehicle passed the smog inspection.
On Oct. 11, the undercover agent reportedly contacted Corey’s and requested an estimate to repair the Explorer.
Corey’s repair estimate was reportedly $869.90, which would cover replacement of the front brake pads and two rotors, and supply two bottles of brake fluid and three cans of brake cleaner.
The report states Corey also told the agent that the vehicle needed a further diagnostic check for an additional $80, and that the cost to repair the lights would be $40 plus parts.
When the agent retrieved the Explorer, the total cost of the repairs was $1,109.91. The agent also received the brake and lamp certificates and a copy of the invoice.
According to the report, a bureau representative inspected the Explorer and found the following:
—The high-beam indicator lamp had not been replaced, rendering the vehicle unable to pass the lamp inspection.
—Corey failed to replace the oversized right rear brake drum, rendering the vehicle unable to pass the brake inspection.
—Corey unnecessarily replaced both front brake calipers and brake pads, the right front rotor and both front wheel seals, and unnecessarily inspected the ABS system.
—Corey failed to pressure bleed the braking system as invoiced. In addition, the repair was not necessary, according to the report.
According to the Department of Consumer Affairs spokesman Russ Heimerich, Corey could have his automotive repair license suspended or revoked if he is found to be guilty.
The judge’s decision can be accepted, modified or rejected by the director of Consumer Affairs, according to Heimerich.
Mason said in some cases a settlement hearing could take place before the scheduled hearing with the judge.
“There could be a settlement,” Mason said. “There could be a number of things that could happen. He could be fined or suspended for a day or two.”
He could also have his repair license placed on probation and be ordered to pay for the cost of the undercover operation.
Corey said he feels like he has already lost the case, even though he said he could produce evidence to prove he did nothing wrong.
“You expect that if you are going to go to a trial, that you will have 12 jurors that you are going to submit your information to and you have a chance,” Corey said. “But I’m going in front of hanging judge Roy Bean. That’s what I’m up against. I will never win.”
Corey said he considered hiring an attorney, but he said a lawyer he contacted wanted $2,500 just to take the case.
“Do you know what I made last year, gross, out of this place? … $11,750,” Corey said. “So you think I can afford to hire an attorney?
“I have so many tax liens … liens everywhere. I have a lien from (Feather Publishing). I just don’t make any money anymore. Everything I own, I’ve sold, just to be able to keep my ‘open’ sign on. … If you print (this story), you are going to kill me. I will be out of business.”