11 Investigates: Auto Shop Under Fire

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Imagine taking your car in for repairs, but it’s still there several months later. An auto shop in Colorado Springs has come under fire from customers, the city and even the federal government.

Investigative reporter Betty Sexton recently visited Springs Transmissions and Automotive after a customer reported the business had been holding onto her car since January. Another customer reported the shop had their her car since April.

Betty asked Greg Ehnes, owner of Springs Transmissions and Automotive, about the 1996 Mercury Mystique that belongs to Yvonne and James Humes. The couple says Ehnes promised the car was ready – but when they asked for an invoice, the car suddenly had a new problem.

“I think we’ve got to find a wiring problem, which we’re having trouble finding,” Ehnes said. "The transmission's okay. We need to fix all the little bugs."

The Humes say they don’t want any more work done. They just want their car. They offered Ehnes their Visa card, but he turned it down saying he’ll only accept $1,500 in cash.

He also refused to accept the Visa card belonging to Denise Eberlein. Eberlein says she was told her van would be ready, but things changed when she went to pick it up.

“The vehicle’s on a lift, all apart, on the very end lift,” Ehnes said.

Again, Ehnes is refusing to return the van unless she gives him $1,500 in cash.

“I was afraid that she would stop payment on Visa,” he explained.

“But you do accept Visa from other customers?” Betty Sexton asked.

“I told her she’d have to pay. Yes, I do,” Ehnes responded.

“Okay, but you won’t accept her Visa card?” Betty asked.

“I don’t trust her,” he said.

Visa says he can’t do that. Merchants who choose to accept Visa credit cards have to do it for everyone. They’ve promised to follow up with Ehnes’ business about that policy.

Meanwhile, Ehnes says the repairs on these two vehicles are taking so long because he’s extremely busy.

“My alarm clock is set for 3:00 in the morning and I’m here at least… I advertise I’m here 6:00 to 6:00. I’m open seven days a week,” Ehnes said.

Ehnes also added that he and his staff are having trouble keeping up with business. In fact, 11News has learned that City Code Enforcement Officers have cited the business as recently as last May for having too many cars parked on the street.

While Betty Sexton was investigating this story, she received an ad for Springs Transmissions and Automotive in her mailbox. It claims that the business has an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau when, in fact, the business’ rating is an “F.”

The Better Business Bureau says Ehnes’ business has 29 unanswered customer complaints.

Betty asked Ehnes if he thought it was misleading to tell people the shop has an “A+” rating when it really doesn’t.
“I’d say that’s misleading,” he admitted.

The Better Business Bureau reports that it has mailed to letters to Ehnes, asking him to stop using their logo in his ads. The BBB’s legal department in Virginia is now getting involved.

Additionally, KKTV 11 News took the ad to the District Attorney’s office, and now the Colorado Springs Police Department is investigating. The Eberleins and Humes, and any other customers who can’t get their cars back, are urged to file a police report.

The bottom line is that any time you need to take your vehicle in for work, be sure to know your rights under the Motor Vehicle Repair Act. The Colorado Law says repair shops must give you a copy of their estimate, tell you when the work will be completed, get your written consent and provide you with written warranty information.

During the course of this investigation, Betty Sexton also found that Ehnes owes the government $76,000 in penalties for 18 employee safety and health violations issued by OSHA last summer.

When asked, Ehnes told Betty that OSHA had dropped the majority of the violations. But a spokesperson with the Labor Department says that isn’t true.