Classic car shop accused of exploiting customers

Classic car shop accused of exploiting customers

ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. — A classic car dealer and repair shop is accused of exploiting customers, charging massive fees to store their cars then trying to take possession of customer’s cars when they dispute the bills.

Vivian Pompliano, owner of Pomp Boys Motors, is facing four counts of exploitation of the disabled or elderly and one count of obtaining property by false pretense. Her dealership’s license has also been revoked. Sources told 5 On Your Side they believe the business is using mechanics liens to take advantage of their customers.

Danny Greene is a Pomp Boys customer who says he had trouble with them. He had big hopes for his classic Dodge when he dropped it off at Pomp Boys Motors in Roanoke Rapids in April.

“It’s a ’68 Charger RT. I wanted it completely restored,” Greene told 5 On Your Side.

He put down $5,000.

“[The car] was there a little over two and a half months and never been touched,” Greene claims.

Greene had enough. He wanted to take his car somewhere else, but says he couldn’t get Pomp Boys on the phone. There was rarely anyone at the shop, and when he did see a mechanic, they wouldn’t unlock the door. So Greene, a contractor for FedEx, tried a different approach.

“Drove up in the FedEx truck, [mechanic] opened the door. [He] thought we had a package. I went in, told him I wanted to look at my car. I looked at my car and I told him nothing has been done, so I’m coming to get my car,” Greene explained to 5 On Your Side.

The mechanic called Pompliano. Pompliano called Roanoke Rapids Police.

“Police had came and they said fine it’s yours,” Greene said.

Officers let Greene take his car, but also charged him with misdemeanor breaking and entering.

5 On Your Side went to Pomp Boys Motors to ask about what happened. The shop doors were locked and it appeared to be closed. While our crew was trying to figure out if anyone was at the property, Pompliano drove up. She would only talk to us with the camera off.

Pompliano claimed that Greene owed her money and she’d put a mechanics lien on his car.

“There’s no lien on it, I mean I gave her $5,000 down to start on the car, they never started,” argues Greene.

5 On Your Side checked – and found no lien on Greene’s car. However, WRAL found Pomp Boys has used mechanics liens against customers dozens of other times.

Mechanics liens are a common legal tool garages can use when there’s a billing dispute with a customer. The garage can take these liens all the way to civil court and try to convince a judge to let them sell the car for the amount a customer owes.

From 2019 through 2021, the mechanics lien process was started 219,448 times in North Carolina. About 34{e3fa8c93bbc40c5a69d9feca38dfe7b99f2900dad9038a568cd0f4101441c3f9} of the time, or 73,748 times, those liens led to a ‘Notice of Intent to Sell’ being filed against a car owner. A car owner can challenge those notices in civil court; but, if a judge finds in favor of the garage who filed the lien, the garage can sell the car.

5 On Your Side also looked at the mechanics liens Pomp Boys Motors filed. From the time they opened in 2020 through the end of 2021, they filed 16 liens against customers. Every single time, Pomp Boys also filed a ‘Notice of Intent to Sell.’ That’s a 100{e3fa8c93bbc40c5a69d9feca38dfe7b99f2900dad9038a568cd0f4101441c3f9} rate compared to the state rate of 34{e3fa8c93bbc40c5a69d9feca38dfe7b99f2900dad9038a568cd0f4101441c3f9}.

We dug through one of the civil court filings involving Pomp Boys. In it, a woman says her husband passed away. When she went to pick up his car from Pomp Boys, the shop tried to charge her an outrageous storage fee. When she refused to pay, the shop filed a ‘Notice of Intent to Sell’ the car. In the filing, Pomp Boys argues they told the husband how much storage would cost ahead of time.

“I think they should be prosecuted,” Green said to WRAL News.

Other complaints against Pomp Boys Motors are under investigation.

In some cases, customers ran into issues with Pomp Boys after making verbal agreements with them. Your best protection, according to the DMV, is to get everything in writing.

“Know that if they do overcharge you, or you disagree with what they’re trying to charge you, you do have a right to dispute it,” said Michelle Johnson, Program Supervisor with the NCDMV’s License and Theft Bureau.

But be prepared for the possibility of taking the dispute to court if needed. That’s why it’s important to know as much as possible about a mechanic before taking your car to them.

Before you sign any contract or work agreement, read it closely. Greene’s estimate from Pomp Boys Motors gives the garage the ability to charge Greene for work he didn’t agree to and Pomp Boys wouldn’t even have to tell him if they put new or used parts in the car.

But according to the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Repair Act, a customer must be notified if “a determination is made by a motor vehicle repair shop that the actual charges for the repair work will exceed the written estimate by more than ten percent (10{e3fa8c93bbc40c5a69d9feca38dfe7b99f2900dad9038a568cd0f4101441c3f9}).”

The Act also requires “A statement identifying any replacement part as being used, rebuilt, or reconditioned, as the case may be.”

It’s also a violation to “Substitute used, rebuilt, salvaged, or straightened parts for new replacement parts without notice to the motor vehicle owner…”

Pomp Boys Motors dealer license was also revoked in July, and they were hit with a civil penalty after the DMV found multiple violations with the way Pomp Boys was inspecting, documenting and selling cars.