Action 9

‘It was horrible’: Consumer claims body shop was paid for repairs that weren’t completed

WINTER PARK, Fla. — A woman from Longwood contacted Action 9, claiming an auto body repair shop nightmare cost her thousands of dollars and left her without a car for eight months.

“Do you feel violated?” Todd Ulrich asked.

“I do. I do,” Melissa Viala replied as she tried to hold back tears.

Viala has been using Uber to get to work, and she cares for her grandmother with cancer who misses their weekend trips.

“You know travel, go everywhere, but can’t do it now, until I get my car back. She’s so devastated,” Viala said.

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Viala blames Executive Automotive in Winter Park. After an accident last June, she says the auto body shop took over her insurance claim and told her that her 2021 Nissan would be fixed in a few weeks.

Viala said she began hearing excuses two months after leaving her car at the shop. “I need one more part. I’ll have it to you in a week. I’ll have it in two to three weeks.”

According to Melissa, the shop provided a loaner car for two months, but now she’s having to rely on Uber and rides from friends.

Insurance records show Executive Automotive collected nearly $8,000 but failed to complete the claim.

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Viala said her insurer could not believe what was happening. “They said it’s a joke, and my insurance adjuster said that out of 13 years, she’s never heard or seen anything like it.”

Executive Automotive is rated F at the Better Business Bureau for failing to respond to complaints.

Online google reviews include four complaints about bad and delayed repairs.

Viala said she saw the reviews after her ordeal began. “I was so devastated.”

Ulrich went to Executive Automotive in Winter Park.

“Eight months later the repairs still haven’t been done?” Ulrich asked a man working in the shop.

“You have to talk to the manager,” he replied.

Later, the body shop owner, Latchman Singh, told Ulrich COVID-19 left him without enough technicians, auto parts were delayed, and he did nothing wrong.

Last month, Viala had her car towed to another shop for immediate repairs, and she sent a complaint to Florida’s Division of Consumer Services, which regulates repair shops.

“It was horrible,” Viala said.

If a shop will not return your vehicle, you can post a bond with the county clerk to cover the repair bill. The shop must then release your vehicle and make a claim against the bond to get payment.

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