AutoTech Lorraine Pilitz used deceptive practices to inflate charges, charged storage fees contrary to DMV regulations, ripoff Rockville Centre New York!!
To Whom It May Concern: I was involved in an automobile accident in Oceanside, NY on June 15, 2005. I chose AutoTech randomly from a tow list provided by the responding 4th Pct policeman, and my car was towed to AutoTech’s Rockville Centre location. On August 5, 2005, in settlement of very dubious charges of $4530 (mostly storage fees), my insurance company agreed to pay over $3600 to Autotech. For the difference I signed over my car (determined a total loss), and we finally parted ways. I believe that AutoTech was not entitled to any storage charges. I also believe that AutoTech used delay tactics to accrue these charges. Please refer to the endnotes of this letter for the particulars of these delays. I disagree with both the insurance payment and the forfeiture of my car. Regarding the storage charges, please refer to NY State DMV regulations along with my following comments: TITLE 15 OF THE OFFICIAL COMPILATION OF CODES, RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK: Section 82.8 (2) Storage may not be charged during the period from which the customer has authorized repairs to one business day after the repair shop has notified the customer to pick up the repaired vehicle. Mr. Bill Coulter (of the NY DMV) on 8/25/05 confirmed that this should be interpreted as follows: As long as the customer has the intention to fix the vehicle, no storage charges may accrue. I signed an estimate sheet and repair order on 6/16/05 (attached), in which I clearly indicated an authorization to repair. It was only on 8/2/05 that I expressed to Ms. Pilitz that I no longer wished the car to be repaired. Section 82.8 (c)(1) A customer may not be charged for storage unless notice in writing is given. Notice may be given by a statement on an estimate or other document given the customer, by letter or by other written means which gives the customer actual notice. Such written notice (that charges were actually accruing since my car was no longer going to be repaired) was not provided to me at any time. Section 82.5 Obligations of the repair shop. The repair shop shall: (a) upon the request of any customer, make an estimate in writing Even after repeated requests, a written repair estimate was not provided to me at any time before 8/5/05, nor was an estimate ever provided to my insurance company (American Collectors). George Jones at American Collectors Insurance has this refusal on record, and perhaps even has a recording of the conversation. (c) provide the customer with an invoice. An invoice shall contain the following information Likewise, I asked in writing on 7/27/05 for an invoice. Nonetheless, after multiple follow-ups on 7/28 and 7/29, this request was repeatedly denied. Only on 8/2/05 was an invoice telefaxed to me. (h) not commit a fraud or a deceptive practice; On several occasions I discussed my concern over storage charges with Ms. Pilitz in the presence of her colleague Hal. On or about June 27 and July 15, she confirmed to me that no storage charges are being charged since I intended to fix the car and that she was still waiting for the insurance company to work on the claim. On July 27, when I told Ms. Pilitz that I decided to use my own insurance company rather than pursing that of the other driver, she told me that any charges would be held or frozen (none to be charged after that day). That was the first time I recognized that AutoTech intended to charge storage. (i) not grossly overcharge; (Notwithstanding the fact that AutoTech was not entitled to storage charges at all), AutoTech charged $70 a day for storage, while the sign on the office wall indicates a $55 per day charge. I have a picture of this sign (attached), taken 8/5/05. I recognize that although I dispute the payments from my insurance company, these are not actionable by me, since these did not (to date) result in any direct financial loss to me. I do feel that all ratepayers suffer when such unjustified payments are made. However, I do seek fair compensation for the salvage value of my car. From various sources on the Internet (e.g. thesamba.com), I believe this value to be $1500. On many occasions starting with 6/16/05, Ms. Pilitz told me that she was an insurance expert and she strongly advised me not to have any contact with any insurance company directly. Indeed, she actually raised her voice to me on 7/27/05, after finding out that I had spoken to an agent of St. Paul Travelers. This conversation occurred in the presence of Hal on 7/27/05 at approximately 4:00 p.m. Furthermore, after experiencing alleged verbal abuse on the phone, the insurance adjuster (George Jones) refused to deal directly with AutoTech. It then fell to me to negotiate the settlement of charges. As a fitting conclusion to the matter, Ms. Pilitz attempted to renege on a verbal agreement that I could take my radio from my car. On 8/5/05, I called the Rockville Centre police regarding this matter. As they arrived on the scene, Ms. Pilitz relented. Sincerely, George 1 I feel strongly that all three of the following delays were intentional, so that AutoTech could charge as much as possible for storage. In interpretation of NYS code 82.8, there was not even one day that AutoTech was permitted to charge storage. 6/16 7/15: The claim had been first submitted to Liberty Mutual, based on the accident report. Lorraine Pilitz assured me that she herself was following up with Liberty Mutual regularly. However, it was only after I personally contacted Liberty Mutual on 7/15/05 (one full month after the accident) against the advice of Ms. Pilitz that I found out that Liberty Mutual was no longer the insurer for the third party. 7/15 7/19: Ms. Pilitz told me on 7/15/05 that she would submit a claim to the current (correct) carrier, St Paul Travelers, but this still had not yet been done as of 7/19/05. I opened the claim with Travelers myself on 7/19/05. 7/27 8/2: On 7/27/05, after receiving a denial of claim from St Paul Travelers, I decided to settle my claim through my own insurance company. On this date I requested an invoice for all charges from AutoTech (in writing) and followed this written request by repeated verbal requests. Ms. Pilitz declined to issue an invoice neither to me nor to my insurance company. On 7/28/05 at noon, she told me that she was faxing it to my insurance company right now. The estimate was finally sent to me as a telefax on 8/2/05 (I have electronic record of the date and time of this fax). George Rockville Centre, New YorkU.S.A.