I had actually about forgotten about this story or at least, it has not been at the top of the list of tasks to complete. In one of my recent email conversations with Katie on our web development team, she stated that while looking through the site in preparations for a new project that she ran across these articles. She wanted to know how it turned out. I decided to take the time to write the conclusion to the story. The names used are not the real names of the people involved and I am sad to say I cannot remember the name of the aid agency that was involved in this story. I just realized it has been slightly over six years since this all happened.
To read the first two parts of this story please visit the following articles.
Britney came by on Monday morning and said she was sorry for the confusion and did not know exactly what happened. I told her that I had a pretty good idea what was going on and that I would need to speak with her contact at the aid agency that had been helping her. She stated that she would get her on the phone. I replied that I was too busy to talk at that moment and that I would need to call the agency as soon as I was free. To my surprise she actually gave me the phone number and the name of the contact person at the agency, Jennifer. I looked the number up on the internet and found it indeed belonged to a legitimate organization. I had expected to call one of Britney’s friends that would be posing as “Jennifer”.
About mid morning when the shop settled down I called Jennifer and asked if she knew Britney and the situation with the Mazda. She stated that they had been helping her get her life back together since her child had passed away (a very sad bit of truth in this whole story). She was aware that there was a broken down Mazda that Britney needed to get running for a new job and that they would be paying for the repairs. For a split second I debated whether or not to inform Jennifer of Britney’s deceptions as she seemed very caring and deeply involved in Britney’s plight. Whether it is a blessing or a curse I have always been compelled to do the correct thing in life and I told her the whole sorted story as I knew it. I presented it as kindly as I could. She was not surprised and informed me that she had personally taken an interest in Britney and was well aware of her tendencies to manipulate people and situations to her own selfish ends. It was among many things she had been trying to help her with. She further stated that she would be paying the bill on the car and that she would make Britney bring the check to me and apologize in person for the whole situation. It did not seem right to me for Jennifer and the aid agency to do this for Britney since in my opinion Britney had been scamming them for quite a while. What the heck, I know cars not people.
About an hour and a half later Britney’s friends from the weekend arrived at the shop. I explained the situation to them and that as far as I knew Britney would be arriving shortly with the payment for the repair. They stated that was okay but Britney no longer owns the Mazda. I asked for proof of that statement and they opened a folder and presented a nice crisp Vehicle Title. They also pulled out a driver’s license to prove their identification. I asked how they got the title and they explained that Britney had signed the bill of sale on the old title when the $100 deposit was given for the Mazda. They did not want to lose their $100 so when they had the chance, they lifted the title from Britney without her knowing it and transferred the title, first thing Monday morning. I came right out and asked if they intended to still pay her for the car or if they were simply going to “steal” it. They said no they had the money and fully intended to pay the balance for the car. I asked to see the money and they produced it. I told them I had to call Jennifer at the aid agency to see how this could all be worked out. Between the parking lot and the office the idea hit me. How about Britney’s friends paying me for the repair work and paying the aid agency for the balance on the transaction. From there Jennifer could then do what she wanted to help Britney and Britney would be taught the lesson that maybe she is not quite as smart and crafty as she thinks she is. To my surprise Jennifer agreed with my scenario and we put the plan in action.
Back to the parking lot to talk with Britney’s friends! They agreed. I brought them into the office and called Jennifer back. She gave them directions and off they went. Another hour went by and my phone rang. It was Jennifer on the other end and she told me that the agency had been paid the balance of the transaction between Britney and her friends and she felt that I was free to allow them to pick the Mazda after they paid me my bill. Thirty minutes later they were back at my shop, paid the bill and were off.
Before they left we talked over the situation and all agreed that it worked out the best for everyone except Britney. We also agreed that she really needed a dose of her own medicine which we all collectively had given her.
Oh well, back to work with a good story to tell to others. Not so quick, I am working right along, look up and there is Britney walking into my shop. Not again, I thought this was over. Is she alone? Where is the phone? These were just a few of the things that ran through my mind. From a fair distance she ask if she could speak with me. I knew she was a good actress but she did seem genuine at the moment. Right or wrong, I decided decided to talk with her. She told me that Jennifer had explained everything to her and she realized that she was wrong in her actions and apologized to me. She also stated that she was going to do the same with her friends. I told her that I truly hoped that she could get her life back together but in the meantime not to expect anyone to trust her until she worked hard enough to earn it.
After she left, I called Jennifer to let her know that Britney had come by, took ownership of the deceit and apologized. She stated that was the first step in the agreement between Britney and Jennifer in order for Britney to have any possibility of future help. Regular counseling was the second step.
As far as I know I have never heard back from any of the parties involved. Quite honestly if they walked in my shop tomorrow I doubt that I would recognize any of them.
A few lessons learned form this experience:
I do not allow older cars to come into my shop if I do not first have a working relationship with the owner. More than three days of involvement, spread over nearly two months, for two hours of billable work is just not worth the trouble.
If I hear a long story about a customer’s plight before I even get to see the car, I’m out.
By comparison vehicles are much easier to fix than people.
I am happy there are organizations out there that work on fixing people.
You know someday I need to write down my list of rules, do’s and don’ts for me and my shop. After twenty five years of owning a shop and another fifteen working with the motoring public there are quite a few.