Action 9

‘Just keep taking’: Consumer claims car wash wasn’t authorized to withdraw nearly $900 from account

ORLANDO, Fla. — Action 9 helped an Orlando woman get her money back after she claims a local car wash took hundreds of dollars from her bank account through unauthorized charges.

When you park outside in central Florida pollen can do a number on your car.

Loretta Mathis showed Action 9 consumer investigator Jeff Deal her Toyota Corolla and said, “Trees like this… sometimes during this time of year it’s covered.”

That’s why she likes to take her car to a car wash.

“I’s convenient, you know? You can just drive right through and pull up,” she said.

A couple of years ago--she took it to Johnny Clean Car Wash on West Colonial Drive in Orlando and paid agreed to a three-month special for just $20. It wasn’t until recently that she noticed charges on her bank statement $37 and $40. The money had been taken out monthly with automatic withdrawals by Johnny Clean Car Wash for about two years. The withdrawals totaled roughly $900.

Mathis said, “You know they just keep taking and taking and taking.”

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Hoping for a refund, she went to the car wash where she claims a manager offered her a handful of free car-wash coupons and a refund of $40.

Jeff Deal asked, “Kind of insulting?” Mathis responded, “Very, very.”

On the carwash website, the unlimited wash cancellation policy is listed after clicking through a couple of screens. But Loretta said when she signed up in-person, a worker just swiped her ATM card. She never signed paperwork and claims no one told her it was an autorenewal.

“They don’t have a sign up there that says you have to cancel. The young man who took my card didn’t tell me you had to cancel,” she said.

And she’s not the only one to have an issue. Johnny Clean Car Wash is “F” rated with the Better Business Bureau. The Action 9 team saw complaints from other customers who didn’t know they had to cancel either.

Action 9 went to the car wash for answers. Deal said, “We received a consumer complaint from a woman who says that you guys have been making auto withdrawals out of her account for a couple of years and she wants her money back.”

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He was referred to an onsite manager who said he didn’t know Loretta Mathis. The manager said, “I don’t know this person. Again, we have many people that come through. So, I don’t recall the situation.”

Deal asked, “So, you’ve had a lot of people come through and complain about this?”

The manager responded, “Again guys, I don’t feel comfortable talking about this right now.”

Deal asked, “Is there someone who would be able to give us some answers on that?”

The manager said, “Not at the moment. No, there’s not.”

Better Business Bureau president Holly Salmons said your keeping an eye on your statements is key. “Auto draft, auto renew is a business model for many companies. If you’re not carefully monitoring your finances these expenses could be charged month after month.”

Mathis admits she should have been watching her account more carefully but wanted to warn others about her experience.

“I know I’m not the only one and he was just adamant they don’t give refunds…when you know you’re wrong,” she said.

But two days after Action 9 questioned the carwash in person and followed up by email, Loretta was contacted by Johnny Clean Car Wash. She said the company agreed to return an additional $823.

When it comes to automatic payments you do have the right to stop them anytime. It’s best to notify the company verbally and in writing. You should also notify your bank that you have revoked authorization for that company to make automatic withdrawals.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.