Jim Butler Chevrolet of suburban St. Louis is seeking $25,000 in damages after a customer claimed the dealership overcharged him for service done to his vehicle in February.
Dwayne Cooney, also of St. Louis, took his vehicle to the dealership for service on Jan. 31 because buttons on the key fob wouldn’t work and the tire pressure monitor and airbag warning light had illuminated. Automotive News reports the dealership told Cooney that General Motors had notified them of a possible fault in the wiring and that repairs to his Chevrolet Malibu could be extensive. Cooney approved for a maximum of four hours of work to be done on the car, took his rental car and left.
This is where things got a little awry, according to both Cooney and the dealer. Jim Butler Chevrolet called Cooney back and told him the repairs took 4.5 hours instead of the maximum 4 hours he had approved. Cooney of course was not okay with this. The dealer rebutted by saying it had it given him a good deal, charging for 4.5 hours of labor when the job took more than five, which reduced his bill to $553 from $674.
The dealer didn’t realize Cooney had a dash-mounted camera in his car which was recording while his vehicle was in for service. He later posted the video of the service to YouTube, which he also narrated over. According to him, the video is proof that the service actually took just an hour and a half instead of the five hours he was quoted.
Jim Butler Chevrolet says the video presents an inaccurate representation of what happened. According to them, the video has been edited and does not depict the entire time the car was in the service bay. Dash cameras often record on a loop, automatically taping over older footage and erasing it.
“The video shows only one afternoon of our tech working on his vehicle,” Brad Sowers, co-owner of Jim Butler Chevrolet, told AN. “He neglected to show any of the work done in the previous two days.”
Cooney argued this by saying he doesn’t deny they had worked on the car the day before, but if they did, he doesn’t know what work was performed as what needed to be fixed was done in the hour and a half which he recorded.
“I never disputed that they worked on it on any previous day,” said Cooney. “The question is, if you did, what did you do?”
Cooney’s video began to gather views and cause a bit of a stir online, prompting the dealer to worry about the negative impact it might have on the store. Sowers and Jim Butler Chevrolet filed a defamation lawsuit against Cooney demanding that he remove video. On Feb. 24 a judge ordered the video to be taken off YouTube, which she reversed eight days later citing his First Amendment protection of speech.
The suit against Cooney still remains. Sowers said he would drop the lawsuit if Cooney agreed to pay the $8,000 in legal fees Jim Butler Chevrolet has racked up as a result of the situation and remove the video from YouTube.
“I have been trying to meet with Mr. Cooney every day since this went up online,” Sowers said. “He has refused to meet with me.”
The dealership has since created a dash cam video of its own, which depicts a typical service day at Jim Butler Chevrolet for a vehicle. For each view the video receives, the dealer has vowed to donate $10 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis.