Malouf Ford / Consumer fraud
On July 29, 2008, I drove my Ford E150 cargo van to Malouf Ford in North Brunswick, NJ to have an engine diagnostic run at a cost of $150. The engine light had been on for quite some time and my regular mechanic, whom I use for all of my repairs and regular maintenance work, was unable to remedy the problem.
Later that evening, a mechanic named Joe from Maloufs service department called me with an update. He immediately assumed a quite transparent posture of in-your-face authority as he literally scolded me for driving such an unfit, unsafe vehicle. His well-rehearsed scare tactic was so obvious that it would have been funny if it werent so insulting. He proceeded to bombard me with the multitude of problems discovered with my van, starting with the brakes. First he asserted that the vehicle had absolutely no brakes and went on to list all of the various issues with the brake system naming every part known and unknown to me, from worn disks to leaking lines. Then he went into the seemingly endless stream of things that were determined to be wrong with the engine such as leaking gaskets, burnt coils, a busted mount and so on. Then for good measure he even thru in that I needed new plugs, wires and an air cleaner (I had just had the van tuned up, all of these things were brand new). Then he started throwing numbers at me, $357 for this $125 for that, $1, 300 for the front brakes, $1, 250 for the rear brakes, and so on. The final estimate for all repairs was $4, 200 and change.
I argued that my brakes were perfectly fine and what he was saying was impossible. He insisted that my van had no breaks at all, and kept reminding me throughout the conversation that my van had 147 thousand miles on it. I continued arguing that I had driven the van there myself a few hours ago and there was no such issue with the breaks. He went on to say that apparently then, they had failed completely when his mechanic attempted to drive the van into the bay. He said the breaks fell apart when his man was bringing it in. Yes, he actually said that.
I asked him for an estimate on the engine work alone and he told me $1, 300 but that he couldnt allow his guys to work on my vehicle in this unsafe condition and that if I refused to have the brakes repaired I would have to tow it out of there as he couldnt allow me to drive it. I told him not to do another thing; I was coming to pick up the van. He told me I couldnt pick it up as the wheels were off and the brakes had been taken apart. I told him to put it back together, roll it outside and I would be there the next day to get it.
I got a call the next day from Joe; his demeanor was polite and courteous, much different from the day before. He said, We put your van back together, you can come down and get it. We would be more than happy to tow it to another garage or to your house if you like, since there are so many issues with the engine and breaks, we wouldnt want you to get hurt. I went down there and asked Gerry, the Service Manager for the key so I could evaluate the condition of the brakes. He, Joe and another mechanic all sort of converged on me in the office and began reiterating how bad the breaks were and how unsafe it would be for me to drive the van around the parking lot. This went on for a while and then I noticed that the story began to change. It seems that the wheels ended up being taken off of the van, not because the breaks had spontaneously failed and fallen apart like Joe had said, but rather it was part of a routine Multi-Point courtesy inspection or some such bull. And in the process of courteously disassembling and inspecting my breaks, the rear break backing (not sure what that is) had allegedly fallen apart in his hands.
In any case I did take the van for a short drive and the brakes were in fact virtually non-existent and the van un-drivable. I asked Gerry for a copy of the printout of the diagnostic test results, a write up of what had been done to the van/brakes and a write up of the telephone estimate I had been give by Joe. Gerry complied but the estimate he had give me was for only $2, 750 + tax, about $1, 500 less than what Joe quoted me over the phone. I was unable to get them to write up a quote that was consistent with what I had been told over the phone. In fact Joe denied saying most of what was said.
Then Gerry asked me if I would like for them to tow the van, I said yes. He asked me where I wanted to take it and I told him to Port Reading, a few towns over. He said, okay. Then he asked me if I wanted them to take it on their flatbed or if I wanted to call in my own guy. I told him Id be fine with them doing it as long as it was a flatbed. Then he started saying that he would actually prefer I used another service, as he would rather not be responsible if anything were to happen to the van. I said fine, as long as you pay for it, he said of course. I called a tow service, gave them instructions, paid my bill ($150) and went home. Half and hour later I got a call from the driver, This guy wont pay me. I called Gerry and asked him what the problem was and he said, No, problem. Im not paying this guy $150 to tow your van. I never said I would pay. Then of course it got ugly, he called me some names, I threatened to sue him for consumer fraud, and then he hung up on me.
I called my mechanic, told him to add the tow to my bill. Ill find out in a few days what is actually wrong with my van and what these clowns did to it. I do fully intend to sue Malouf Ford for consumer fraud. It wont be a first for them, I found an article online from the Home News Tribune, they were sued for CF in 2005, and my Lawyer Jonathan Rudnick, has since told me that he has represented clients on multiple occasions in consumer fraud lawsuits against Malouf.