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11/15/2006
Virginia: Koons Collision Repair Holds Car Hostage
Koons auto body shop refuses to release a customer car unless payment is made for an improper repair.

Damaged Explorer
Municipal governments are not alone when it comes to holding cars until cash payments are made. Federal legislation enacted last year cracked down on towing companies that earned their keep from such practices. Now a Virginia motorist has found a local repair shop that refuses to release his 1996 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle unless he pays $4000 for a partially repaired vehicle.

"They're basically holding my car hostage to try to force me to pay for their shoddy repair," said the motorist, 36, a former member of Ford's corporate legal team in Dearborn, Michigan.

Koons Collision Repair Center in Alexandria, Virginia promised that it would restore the Explorer after the vehicle had struck a deer that had attempted to cross a busy freeway. Two months later, the customer was told the SUV was fully repaired -- except when he went to pick it up, he found the SUV had a cheap black plastic grille instead of the original chrome unit.

"It's a beige truck with light gray and chrome trim," he said. "It used to have a matching silver and chrome grille, but Koons slapped a dark black one on there. It looks worse than tan shoes with a black tuxedo."

According to the motorist, Koons offered several separate explanations for the mistake over the course of several weeks:
  • The wrong grille was ordered
  • The right grille was ordered, but it had "imperfections" and could not be used
  • The cheaper, wrong grille was intended to save the customer's money
  • The right grille is an old part no longer available
We contacted a Ford dealership for comment. "Ford made millions of those Explorers," the service manager said with a laugh. "I guarantee we can get any part you want for it." Ford has produced 5.5 million Explorers since 1991.

Attempts by the motorist to resolve the matter have fallen on deaf ears. He says that, after three months in the shop, "I just want my car back so that I can take it somewhere else to get it fixed right."



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