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Wronged by Cottman

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This is my response to Cottman's rebuttal.


14 October 2005
Rebuttal response for Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL dispute:

For reference, Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL may be referred to as “Cottman”, or “the shop”. All references of “the car” or “my car” pertain to one 1994 Acura Integra LS 5 speed owned by me, James Daughtery Jr. “Rebuttal letter” refers to the letter addressed as “James Daughtery Reply” by Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL with a fax date of 9/21/05 as received by myself.

Putting all else aside for a moment, to clear the fog of useless information, let’s look at just the facts that can be proven. The bottom line is this: Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL charged me for new transmission parts, but did not remove OR reinstall anything in the transmission as they were contracted to do as per repair order 038360 as stated in the rebuttal letter. I have photographic proof of this. The shop refuses to show any proof that they ordered the parts for my car. Their failure to provide this proof proves that the parts were not even ordered. That is all.

The above paragraph accompanied with the stated photographs should be all the information required to satisfy my dispute. However, since I am requested to address the merchant’s issues as presented in their rebuttal, I do so as follows:

I assume the rebuttal letter from Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey was written by the owner, Michael Passarella. I would like to make all aware that this gentleman was not present any time I was there attempting to work with the employees of the shop. Thus, Mr. Passarella has only second hand, one-sided information as to what was discussed between myself and the employees.

In paragraph one in the rebuttal letter from Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, I do not understand the passage: “…and it is our belief he anticipated not having to pay by the significant amount of evidence provided by himself.” Does this mean that I am in the wrong by bringing forth evidence of fraud committed by this shop? This is saying that the harder I work to prove fraud, the more I am wrong. All else in this first paragraph is true and correct.

The rest of the rebuttal letter appears to be one large paragraph, so I will start from the beginning. On the subject of the leak, as stated in my initial dispute letter, my transmission had a pre-existing leak, surely causing some extra wear in the transmission. It was my presumption that this low fluid condition caused damage due to heat, causing a failure to parts, namely the differential, resulting in the vehicle becoming immobile. That was all. That is what I told Shawn, whose name is on the receipt.

As to low fluid causing the transmission to pop out of 5th gear, I can not explain that, and nor can anyone else I know. This was made aware to me by people that work on Hondas with similar transmissions. Sure enough, adding fluid to this transmission eliminates the 5th gear pop-out all together. I do not know why, but it does. Regardless, I agree with Mr. Passarella that this is irrelevant to this cause. I am simply responding to the rebuttal.

I did not tell Shawn that “low fluid” was the reason my vehicle had stopped moving. I was telling him what conditions occurred before the vehicle became immobile, and low fluid was one of those conditions.

The reason the vehicle became immobile was because the passenger side drive axle had slid out of the transmission. You see, with a standard differential, which is installed on this vehicle, equal torque is applied to both drive-wheels at all times. The torque is limited to two things: Production and traction. Having said that, you can produce all the torque you want, but you’re limited to your weakest link in traction. For example: If you have one drive wheel on ice, and the other on dry pavement, and you attempt to accelerate, the tire on the ice can only put down a little bit of torque before it slips. The other tire on the pavement gets that same amount of torque. Even though it’s not slipping on the pavement, it’s still only getting that little amount of torque that the ice side is getting. So as a result, with my passenger side drive axle slid out of the transmission, the amount of torque reaching the passenger side tire was ZERO, thus, the same amount of torque was going to the driver’s side tire. ZERO. The vehicle will not move under its own power in this state. Shawn informed me, after the transmission was apart, that there was play in the transmission bearings, and that caused the drive axle to pop out.

The rebuttal letter says that I “…blew the clutch out of it.” The clutch that was already installed in the vehicle was in fine shape, and frankly I wish it was still installed. I never had a problem with it. The clutch I had was never a problem. I had it replaced as a maintenance service. It is not often that you have the engine and transmission separated, so while it’s apart it’s best to save time for later by replacing it, unless it’s already new. The clutch had about 50,000 miles, but again, had no issues. It was replaced simply for maintenance purposes.

As for Acura not selling synchronizers separately from the gears, this was told to me by Shawn. I got that information from Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL. Nobody else. Now, regardless of that being omitted from the receipt, lets set this aside for a minute. If you reference the pictures taken in my Father’s shop, you will see substantial wear on the gears. The gears, and all of the other parts in this transmission, have over 240,000 miles on them. That’s millions of shifts. The gears needed to be replaced. This fact negates any issue with whether or not Acura sells their synchros and gears separately.

As for the passage: “…he blew the clutch out of it by hot rodding it. That is what made it not move, as stated in our repair order.” First of all, I did not. As I stated above, the original clutch was fine. Second, this is not stated in the repair order. You have a copy of this available for your review. It is not stated as such, and nevertheless is not true.

Mr. Passarella then states in the rebuttal, “To get to the point of this issue, Mr. Daughtery brought the vehicle back to us, with yet another blown clutch…” I should have taken a picture of the clutch disk they pulled out. It was not “blown”. I called the day after I picked the car up, and talked to Shawn at home to tell him that there was a problem with the clutch, and voiced all of my other concerns. Should I have called him the same day? Sure, but I picked the car up at closing time. Despite the fact that calls get forwarded to his residence, I saw no problem in contacting him the following day, even though the shop was closed.

I want to take a paragraph here to point out a discrepancy. Had the newly installed clutch have been “blown”, I would not have been able to drive the vehicle back to them for them to pull it out. I want to make this clear now. Quoting the rebuttal letter again: “To get to the point of this issue, Mr. Daughtery brought the vehicle back to us, with yet another blown clutch…” If a blown clutch was the initial problem, causing the vehicle to become immobilized, I could not have driven the vehicle back to them. To argue that he did not specifically say that the car was driven back would be a moot point. Since it was replaced under warranty, it would have been towed by the shop had it of been immobile. Mr. Passarella certainly would have included this in his letter. Again: “… Mr. Daughtery brought the vehicle back to us, with yet another blown clutch…”

The letter is correct in that I did contact Mike Ellis with ABC Action News. Mr. Ellis let me know, in our first conversation, that he was also wronged by this same shop a few years ago. Nevertheless, the purpose in contacting this media representative was to spread the word about the wrongdoings of this shop. Not as a mediation tool, as it turned out to be. I declined the shop’s offer, as they have had several chances to fix their errors. It is my belief that once Mr. Ellis received the photographic proof, the shop had no choice but to make the offer to avoid being exposed by the media. I do not think that this is the first time this has happened. Also, the rebuttal letter says “(again)” after the rebuild offer. This is the first and only time that this was offered.

As for my Father’s shop being an “electric repair” shop, it is not. My Father builds motorcycles, including engines and transmissions, frames, does miscellaneous welding, and many other jobs that come his way. He has over 35 years of automotive experience, but no ASE certification. The owner of a local shop, “Quickstart Auto Electric”, has the ASE certification which was required by the process of dispute for this claim. You see, I can not afford for another shop to take apart my transmission to inspect and provide what is required for my dispute. Not to mention the short amount of time in which the information was required. My Father and I removed the transmission, opened the case, and inspected, along with the owner of “Quickstart Auto Electric”. This gentleman was kind enough to write up the required information at no cost, since the only work he had to do was inspect and write. He was provided a parts list from Acura for the required parts, which was included with the work order, and fulfilled the requirements for the dispute. Nothing more. This was approved by Stephen Philips, Chargeback Representative with National City Card Services.

Mr. Passarella continues to say that despite my warranty, I refuse to bring it in to the shop for repair. I have given the shop several tries to correct their mistakes, and told them several times that I knew, based on the fact that the transmission felt exactly the same as before I brought it to them, that the parts were not replaced inside the transmission. Two employees bragged about having years in racing when discussing this with them, and one of the employees, Tom, questioned my judgment when I told him it should feel like a new transmission by asking, “What does a new transmission feel like?”

Mr. Passarella also states that no one takes pictures of their vehicle before, during, and after a repair process. Shawn did not object to me taking pictures of the inside of the transmission. I took these pictures for my own curiosity. I like knowing how things work, and what they look like. That was the purpose of taking the pictures. I am glad that I did.

I also object to the statement regarding my providing useless information. I believe I have been to the point, with the exception of pointing out the discrepancy above.

Thank you.

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