Unit 8 investigates Portland auto shop

Unit 8 investigates Portland auto shop

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by Ed Teachout

kgw.com

Posted on August 27, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 28 at 10:29 AM

Carol Bookman badly needs her car back. She took her 1997 Escort to Marty’s Transmissions on Northeast Sandy Boulevard last month.

It’s still sitting there.

“I guess I was the sucker because they really did me wrong,” said Bookman.

In the past month, Bookman and two other Portland women have filed formal complaints with the Oregon Attorney General about Marty’s Transmissions.  All three allege that the shop did work they did not approve, then held their cars hostage until they paid in full.

“He said I owe $3,391.91 and 'If you can't get me that you're not getting your car until it's paid in full,'” Bookman told Unit 8 Investigators. 

Tricia Scott has a similar story.  She took her Isuzu Trooper to Marty’s Transmissions, and said, “When I called him he said he would do a diagnostic test for free.”

Scott said a mechanic at Marty’s Transmissions agreed with her that the vehicle is probably only worth $600. She says she told them she didn’t want them to do any work until she knew how much it would cost.

A week later Scott said Marty’s Transmissions told her it would be more than $1,000. So she said, “just put it back together and I’ll come pick it up. He says, 'You're already into it for $600 anyway,' and I was in shock and said ‘What?’“

She’s refusing to pay, and so her Trooper still sits behind a locked gate at Marty’s Transmissions.

Timisha Wilson’s complaint against Marty’s Transmission echoes the others.

“They fixed my car without my permission and I had been asking numerous times for a quote,” Wilson said.  “’Who gave you permission to fix my vehicle?’ and he said, 'Well you did,' and I said, 'Well no I did not. You just faxed me the paperwork yesterday and I told you I would call you and you've already fixed my vehicle.'”

Wilson said she had to pay Marty’s Transmissions $3,300 before they would give her back her 2008 Mazda Six.

Unit 8 Investigators visited Marty’s Transmissions and found owner Marty Hallberg working in the shop. 

When Unit 8 asked him about the complaints against his company, he first said he knew nothing about them.

Later he changed gears and admitted knowing about the complaints, but told Unit 8, “I didn't do unauthorized work.”

Pressed further about the three complaints, Hallberg said, “I didn't do unauthorized work. I'm offended by you saying that, I want you off my property.”

Phillip Gilbert, Hallberg’s attorney, contacted KGW asking the station not to run the story.  Gilbert said because there is a lawsuit filed in conjunction with one of these complaints, he would not comment on the allegations.

After Wilson’s complaint, the Oregon Department of Justice sent Hallberg a letter reminding him of Oregon law, which says, “it is an unlawful trade practice to perform service when not authorized by the owner.”

The law also states that “a vehicle repair shop shall prepare an estimate of the cost of work the vehicle repair shop proposes to perform on a motor vehicle before beginning the work.”

All three women who talked to Unit 8 say Hallberg did work on their car without getting prior permission.

Two of the three women’s cars are still locked up at Marty’s Transmissions.

One of them, Carol Bookman, broke down in tears, when she told Unit 8, “I signed no papers. I don't know what in the hell is going on with my car but I need my car.”

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