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Monday, 13 July 2015 22:33

New Mexico Shop Owner Ordered to Pay Back Customers for Poor Repair Work

Robert “Bobby” Mitchell, prior owner of A Reliable Engine Rebuilder in New Mexico, was ordered by the District Court of Albuquerque to pay back customers thousands of dollars for poor repair work. The Consumer Affairs division of the Attorney General’s Office of New Mexico presented 58 affidavits from customers on June 30 claiming Mitchell took their money, but did not properly repair their cars, or sometimes never did any work at all, according to KOAT.com.

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Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash gave Mitchell the opportunity to challenge the affidavits; however, he only challenged two. According to koat.com, Mitchell now works as a lube tech earning $12 an hour and said he could only afford to pay $400 a month. Nash agreed to that amount and ordered him to pay it by the next hearing, scheduled August 3. The money will go into a court registry and payments will be dispersed by the Attorney General’s office once a year. In March, Judge Nash ordered the business closed after Mitchell failed to appear at a hearing where he was set to explain how he would comply with a 2013 court order requiring him to pay restitution to consumers, imposing civil penalties, and prohibiting unlawful business practices.The Office of the Attorney General worked with consumers affected by the order closing the business so they could get their vehicles and engines back.

The current lawsuit involves nine consumers who were victimized by Mr. Mitchell.

In April 2013, the Office of the Attorney General obtained a court order requiring Mitchell to pay those consumers a total of $21,000 in restitution and imposing $42,000 in civil penalties. The court also ordered Mitchell to complete repairs to the engines or, if not repaired, to return the engines and refund the full amount the consumers paid for the repairs.  

“I am outraged that so many New Mexicans were taken advantage of by Bobby Mitchell, and I want to ensure that all consumers understand that they have rights which can be enforced under the UPA,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas.

The Attorney General advises consumers who seek any type of repair services at an automotive repair shop that the New Mexico Unfair Trade Practices Act (UPA) requires the shop to post provisions of the shop’s warranty policy and its method of charging labor in a prominent and conspicuous location on site. UPA also requires a repair facility to provide a written estimate of repairs that will exceed $100, and if repairs exceed the estimate by the greater of ten percent or $50, the repair shop must obtain authorization from the consumer for the repairs. Additionally, the shop must provide the consumer an invoice detailing all repairs completed, all parts and materials used in the repair or service, and whether any such parts were used, rebuilt or aftermarket crash parts. In most cases, consumers are entitled to retain the old parts if they so desire.

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