‘Are you kidding me?’: Woman claims car was damaged while in for routine maintenance

LAKE MARY, Fla. — A Lake Mary woman said she never thought taking her car for routine maintenance would be so risky.

Karen Arbutine couldn’t believe what she heard and saw when she picked up her car from the repair shop.

“They handed me the keys and they said, ‘Oh, did you know that your car had been in an accident?,’ and I looked at him and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Arbutine said.

She had taken her Mercedes to Jerry’s MB Service in Oviedo for routine maintenance. Arbutine only had the vehicle for seven months.

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“I have a car that’s spotless. I really baby it, and then I looked at it and I’m like, ‘Wow, it’s not just scratched. It’s been wrecked,’” Arbutine said.

She took the car to several collision shops that documented the damages, including a bulging tire, scrapes along the bumper and a hole underneath, on the front cover. According to Arbutine, shop owner Jerry Sheppard said he didn’t know how or when it happened, even though a mechanic had looked the car over and had recommended additional repairs.

“I did get two brand new rear tires, and he said everything else was fine, so I know he inspected the tires on the car,” Arbutine said.

When the repair shop refused to pay for the damages, Arbutine called the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, and a deputy went out to the shop.

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The officer noted in the event report that the business had given Arbutine its insurance information so she could repair her Mercedes.

The repair estimates she got were $3,400 and $4,100. Arbutine tried to file the claim.

“His insurance company is now not letting me make the claim as well, per Jerry’s direction, which is just totally amazing to me,” Arbutine said.

Consumer attorney Jared Lee says these cases can be tough to prove.

“It can be challenging and in some of those situations a consumer’s best defense may be to carry sufficient insurance coverage themselves, make a claim on their own policy and let the insurance companies fight it out,” Lee said.

Todd Ulrich contacted the owner at Jerry’s MB Service. Sheppard denies the vehicle was damaged at his shop and said he still offered to make repairs, provided insurance information and was willing to work with Arbutine.

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Sheppard said his insurance provider denied the claim because the shop was not at fault and not liable.

Arbutine paid $3,400 out of pocket to get her Mercedes fixed.

“Everybody could have an accident. Accidents happen. Just do the right thing and take care of the consumer,” Arbutine said.

If you’re taking your car in for repairs, snap a few photos of the vehicle and its mileage with your phone just in case you have to prove the condition it was in when you dropped it off.

The shop’s owner is installing cameras so he too can document a vehicle’s condition when it arrives.

Jerry’s MB Service is rated A+ at the Better Business Bureau and has been in business for 20 years.

Arbutine’s complaint to Florida’s Division of Consumer Services has been closed at this time.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.