MIDLOTHIAN, VA (WWBT) - A Goochland woman calls 12 On Your Side after her car is damaged in a car wash and she can't get it to pay up. This is the second On Your Side investigation we've done involving Rio Car Wash in recent weeks.
Michele Cruey says what she's been through is very emotional, because she spent much of her savings trying to get a reliable car - a big deal to her.
"I had been saving for a car...oh, I'm going to get emotional now," Cruey said. "I had the car three weeks, three weeks."
That's before she went to the Rio Car Wash on Hull Street in Midlothian, back on March 24. Surveillance video shows her black Mazda pulling into the car wash. She says it was her second time using this location. This time, she paid more for her wheels to be cleaned.
"I'm going through the car wash towards the middle of the car wash, I hear a scraping sound," Cruey said.
"I get out, I'm walking around the car with my towel, because I was trying to dry it off some, and I noticed from the passenger side of my car all the way to the front, just scrapes," Cruey said.
But that wasn't all. Her wheel well liner is now in her trunk.
"It had been pulled down, like on the ground the front part of it, so I'm like, that clearly wasn't there when I got here," Cruey said.
She says an employee helped her fill out a claim form.
Sometime later, Cruey got a letter from the claims department denying the claim, saying Rio's blue soft cotton cloth washers don't scratch or damage vehicles, the scratches weren't consistent with damage that would have happened by other equipment there, and no other vehicles that went through the same washer were damaged.
"The machine did the damage to my car, period," Cruey said.
Investigator Eric Philips went to Rio searching for answers and he spoke to the location manager, Daniel.
"I personally don't handle any type of reimbursements. If something's damaged, I don't pay for it," Daniel said. "That's all done by the claims department."
Philips reached out to Rio's Operations manager but hasn't heard back.
Cruey's insurance company will cover the repair once she pays the $500 deductible, but if she wants to recoup her losses, experts say that'll likely involve court.
"She would have to show that, 'my car was fine when it entered in here, when it came out it, was damaged,'" said consumer attorney Ian Vance.
"I mean, it's difficult to show whether or not the scrapes were there, but clearly there's nothing hanging down in the front of my car as I pull in," Cruey said.
Experts say unfortunately, instances like this can be hard to prove, unless you have a witness to corroborate your position. An effective way of striking back can be by posting truthful, detailed information on consumer websites like Yelp.
This isn't the first time someone reached out to NBC12 about the Rio Car Wash on Hull Street in Midlothian. Back in December, Pharoah Mosby's son Elohim took his Acura through the wash portal when the vehicle on the track behind him slammed into him. Mosby says the car wash has refused to pay for the damages, because although surveillance cameras show the car jolting forward, company officials say it's unclear from the video what caused that jolt to happen - whether it was a car wash malfunction or driver error.
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