How do I get my car back from shop after I paid them but they say I owe more?
When a person who is not a landlord agrees to hold property for another, a bailment is created.
There are different types of bailments- "bailments for hire" in which the custodian (bailee) is paid, "constructive bailment" when the circumstances create an obligation upon the custodian to protect the goods, and "gratuitous bailment" in which there is no payment, but the bailee is still responsible. There is a lower standard of care imposed upon the bailee in a gratuitous bailment, and the parties may contract to hold the bailee free from liability in any bailment. As the law of bailments establishes a lower standard of care for the bailee in a gratuitous bailment agreement, such an agreement or receipt should indicate explicitly that the bailee is acting without compensation. When a bailment is for the exclusive benefit of the bailee, the bailee owes a duty of extraordinary care. If the bailment is for the mutual benefit of the bailee and bailor, the bailee owes a duty of ordinary care. A gratuitous bailee must use only slight care and is liable only for gross negligence. To create a bailment, the alleged bailee must have actual physical control with the intent to possess. Physical control and intent to possess will be interpreted according to the expectations of the parties. If a court thinks that liability would be unexpected or unfair, it can usually find that the defendant did not have “physical control” or “intent to possess.” For example, courts are more likely to find a bailment of a car exists in a garage with an attendant than in a park and lock garage.
If a bailee fails to use proper care, it may be liable to the bailor for resulting damages. If a new item is returned used, the damages are typically the difference in value between the item when new and the item when used. The court often uses locally advertised rates for a similar product to establish values.
Texas has no comprehensive statute specifically governing auto repairs. However, the Deceptive Trade Practices - Consumer Protection Act includes some sections that deal with auto repairs.
Under this law, it is illegal to:
Knowingly make a false or misleading statement about the need for parts, replacement or repair service.
State that work has been done or parts were replaced when that is not true.
Represent that goods are original or new, when in fact they are second-hand or refurbished.
Advertise goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised.
If you refuse to pay a repair bill -- even a bill in dispute -- the mechanic has the legal right to keep your car until you pay. Even if you feel cheated, you should not pay with a check so you can regain possession of your car and then stop payment on the check -- your vehicle may still be repossessed.
If you suspect that the repair shop has violated the law, and you can't get them to resolve the problem to your satisfaction, your first step should be to take your car to another repair shop. Give the second mechanic a copy of your itemized receipt and order an inspection of the alleged repairs and parts. Get this report in writing. If you notice the same problem with your car is recurring, or find a new problem that should not have arisen, you will be in a better position to negotiate a refund from the first mechanic if you get a second mechanic's opinion of the work done – in writing.