PA Jeeps

The Garage => Vendor Feedback / Experiences => Topic started by: Colli on May 02, 2014, 03:35:39 pm

Title: Carlisle Customs and Classics - DON'T GO THERE
Post by: Colli on May 02, 2014, 03:35:39 pm
If you've read my "Colli Goes Commando" thread (, you know I am in the process of restoring a 1967 Jeepster Commando. After some random Googling I went to Carlisle Customs and Classics (aka Carlisle Autobody) for the body work. To be fair, I will say up front that the body work itself looks to be a quality job and the end result looks great. However, I would NOT recommend doing business with them. Iím not generally one to rant, but this ordeal has been the worst customer service experience I have ever had. This is going to be long winded so I will summarize my main complaints up front:

ē   I ended up paying  50% more than the initial estimate and had to consult a lawyer to avoid paying out even more than that. At the end of the job, the grand total on the invoice I was given says the total cost was 350% more than the estimate. Thatís 3.5 times more!!
ē   It took almost 2 years (23 months) to complete the body work. This was body work only Ė no mechanical, interior, trim, drive train, engine work or anything else.
ē   They made alterations/decisions on the vehicle without asking me first.
ē   The owner tried to get out of replacing/repairing my bumpers by saying the ones I gave him were unusable and I would need to get new ones. I had to argue with him to get him to take care of the bumpers.
ē   My windshield got cracked while in their possession and they were not going to replace it until I argued with them to get them to do so.
ē   When the vehicle was done and supposed to be completed I went to pick it up and found the following:
   o   The windshield and rear window were not installed.
   o   The hood hinge bolts (and several other interior bolts and screws) were left unfinished Ė just bare metal.
   o   Without consulting me first, they installed and after market hood prop rod that is too big, unfinished (more bare metal), and looks horrible.
   o   The tailgate does not line up correctly and the owner told me thatís the best they could do.
   o   He did not replace some plugs in the truck bed rails because mine were unusable and he didnít bother to find something to replace themÖ leaving a series of holes around the bed of the truck.
   o   The vehicle's original trim tag had been thrown away, and the VIN tag had been carelessly ripped off the vehicle and damaged.
ē   The owner would consistently request that I send my periodic payments to him via wire transfer or overnight a check to him and was pretty pushy about it. That seemed really sketchy.
ē   In general the owner was a fast talker who gave me a lot of lip service, changing stories, and excuses and did not live up to his promises as far as budget, timeliness, and communication.

Now if you have a whoe lot of time to kill, here are the details surrounding the above issues:

When I met the owner of Carlisle Customs and Classics, Vinnie Scalavino, he came out to give me an estimate on a body work restoration of my 1967 Jeepster Commando. The vehicle was completely disassembled at this point so everything was out in the open to see.  Vinnie gave me a big speech about how he would be committed to staying in communication with me to make sure everything is just how I want it and deliver my dream car to me. He also talked about horror stories you hear about people having their cars tied up in body shops for over a year and he assured me that would not happen with him and he would get the car back to me so I could enjoy it. During the conversation I stressed several times that I wanted this vehicle restored to its original factory conditionÖ no customizations or alterationsÖ completely stock. He assured me again that he would deliver my dream car and I would be completely satisfied with his work, and gave me a reasonable estimate. So I was promised communication, complete satisfaction, in a reasonable amount of time, for a reasonable amount of money. None of these things came true.

As agreed upon in the contract I signed, I put down 50% and agreed to put down more money as the job warranted it. Eventually, it got to the point where I had already paid him a fair amount over the estimate and assumed the end was near, but he came back and asked me for more money.  The contract did state that the estimate was no guarntee of final cost, but I asked him how much more this was going to be and what the bottom line would end up being. He told me he wasnít sure. He couldnít give me a final number, or even an idea of a final number. He went on and on about how much more work there was than he expected and what bad shape the vehicle was in and how there arenít any replacement parts available so they have to fabricate and patch everything which takes a lot of time. I asked him what the point of the estimate was. I argued that the point of him looking at it in advance was to see how much work it was going to be, and that perhaps he should have done some research before taking the job so he would know parts arenít available. I expressed my extreme displeasure that he wasnít living up to his estimate and he just kept talking about how much work it was and that the estimate was no guarantee. At this point I decided to consult a lawyer to find out what consumer rights were in regards to estimate overages.  It did clearly state on the contract the estimate was no guarantee of final cost, but I didnít think that gave someone carte blanche to run up the charges as far as they want. I was right. The lawyer verified that there was legal precedent in PA dictating that anything 25% or more over the original estimate is considered egregious and legally actionable. I gladly shared my findings with Vinnie and we exchanged a few e-mails on the topic before coming to an agreement on a final number that I agreed to pay and not a penny more.  Even with all that in the end I paid out 50% more than the original estimateÖ and it would have just kept going from there if I had not put a stop to it. At the end of the job, the grand total on the invoice I was given said the total cost was 350% more than the estimate. Thatís 3.5 times more! To illustrate the point with purely ficticious numbers... a $10K estimate would have been turned into a $35K job. And he didn't see a problem with that.

On top of that after all the talk about getting the vehicle back to me so I could enjoy it, would you believe it took him almost 2 years (23 months) to finish the job! So the money and timeframe parameters were completely blown. But wait thereís moreÖ

At one point I was on the phone with Vinnie (one of the times he called asking for money, which is the only time I heard from him) and he was telling me about all the progress they had made, including adding three support braces to the roof. Wait what? I asked him why he did that without talking to me and reminded him that I wanted this vehicle to be completely original and didnít want anything altered from its original state. He tried to convince me that the changes made the roof stronger and that it was too flimsy without the extra support, and that nobody would notice that these three braces arenít original. I told him that I would notice and thatís all that matters and furthermore, the roof had been fine for 47 years without the extra support and I was confident it would hold up. I told him I did not authorize the addition of these support braces, I do not want them on there, and he needed to take them out. We went back and forth on this for a good 20 minutes before he finally agreed to take them out. However, Iím sure he had already charged me the labor to put them in and he probably charged me the labor to take them out too.

Then another time I was talking to Vinnie he asked me what I was going to do about bumpers. I reminded him that I gave him the original bumpers. He told me those bumpers were unusable because there were too bent. I said Iím sorry but how is that my problem? I delivered the original bumpers to him with the body and the bumpers were listed on the contract so I expected him to deliver restored bumpers. We went back and forth on this topic too a little before he agreed to get bumpers. This was after I had already pulled the lawyer card so he knew he wasnít getting any more money from me and I think he was now trying take shortcuts wherever he could so he didnít lose money.

During another discussion he asked me what I was going to do about a windshield. Again, I reminded him that there was a windshield on the vehicle when it was delivered to him. First he tried to say he didnít have it, and I said he better look again because I gave it to him and it was listed on the contract. (as an aside, there were a few other parts that he said he didnít have and when I told him to look again he found them) Then a few weeks later he was talking to me about a few parts I needed to order and he again said I would need to get a windshield. Again I told him that I already gave him the windshield. Now he says he has it but it is cracked so it canít be used. I told him it was most certainly not cracked when I gave it to him so if it is cracked now they are responsible. He tired to say they had it sitting safely wrapped up in a box on a shelf so they didnít do anything to break it. I said I donít care where it was sitting, it was not cracked when I gave it to him and I have a lot of pictures to prove it so they are liable and will have to replace it. We went a couple rounds on this and it got a little heated. He actually told me I was pushing the envelope asking him to replace a the windshield but he wasnít going to argue over a piece of glass so he would go ahead replace it. Damn right! Again, I think he was trying to get out of paying out any more money out of pocket since I wansn't paying the 350%.

Hereís something else that struck me as very sketchyÖ whenever he asked me to make a payment he wanted me to wire the money to him or send it overnight. He was pretty adamant about this and tried to convince me it was safer than putting a check in the mail in case it got lost. I told him it would be fine and I could always stop payment if there was a problem. I thought it was weird that he asked me to do this and strange how pushy he was about it. I felt like he was trying to solve his own immediate cash flow problems using me. I did not oblige.

When he finally called me to say the Jeepster was done and I could come and pick it up, I made arrangements to get off work and showed up at his place 1.5 hours from my house with my truck and trailer. Well, there were several issues. First, the windows were not installed. He said he planned to install them but the seal he ordered didnít arrive in time. I asked why he didnít just call me and tell me this so I could reschedule picking it up. He said he didnít want to make me wait until he could get his glass guy out there. I told him I had already waited 2 years and wouldnít have minded 2 more weeks if it meant the windows got installed. Now I have to pay someone to come out and put them in. Iím sure he didnít call to reschedule because he figured if I came all the way out there with my trailer I would just take the vehicle and go and he would get out of paying the glass guy. He was right. I let him know I was not happy, but I just wanted to be done with him.

I wish that was the only problem. I also noticed that the tailgate didnít line up exactly with the body. He actually said it was t he best they could do but I could bring it back if it really bothered me. Also, there are 12 holes around the edge of the truck bed rails that were filled with buttons/inserts when I dropped the body off. These holes were left empty. I asked him why he didnít put my buttons back in and he said it didnít have anything in the holes. I told him it most certainly did and I have lots of pictures to prove it. So then he changed his story to say that mine were unusable because they were too rusted and they donít make replacements. You would think that being a body shop they could have come up with something. I think the truth is he didnít even bother to look into it... you know, since he wasn't getting any more money out of me. Then he showed me this big ugly hood prop rod he installed. Not only was it not original, it was oversized and unfinishedÖ a bare metal monstrosity hooked to a finely painted classic hood. This is another thing he did without asking me first and it looks terrible. I am going to have to remove it and hope the holes it leaves arenít too bad. Also, a lot of the exposed screws and bolts were not painted, including the hood hinge bolts that sit front and center on the hood. This is a very noticeable spot and it looks terrible. He said he saw pictures on the internet where Commandos had unpainted hood bolts. I told him I had never seen one like that. Then he said maybe itís a matter of preference which really pissed me off and I asked why he didnít call and ask me what my preference was since itís my car? Then he said he wanted to leave them unpainted anyway in case I was going to take the hood off to put the engine in. The story keeps changing and the excuses keep coming.  He finally said if I really wanted them painted I could send them back to him, but seriously?

These were the main issues along the way but there were a bunch of similar smaller things too that I wonít bother going into. So basically his initial promises about communication, timeliness, and costs were not met and he gave me a lot of lip service, changing stories, and excuses along the way. Again, to be fair, the body work does actually look very good. I will also say that for the most part Vinnie remained calm and professional during our interactions. However, the overall general business practices of Vinne Scalavino and Carlisle Customs and Classics were less than satisfactory.
Title: Re: Carlisle Customs and Classics - DON'T GO THERE
Post by: Death Wobble on May 02, 2014, 05:08:43 pm
Damn!  What a jerk!  If I were you, I'd relay that entire message to the Better Business Bureau.  You may also want to Yelp! or start a FB page about it as well.  I believe that WGAL-8 also has the ability to investigate bad business practices in this region and put the stories on the air to get you satisfaction and warn other consumers.

Re: wire transfers...Never use them unless you are the one doing the extorting.  They aren't usually traceable or recoverable.

Memorize the names of prominent NYC crime bosses and casually slip them into conversation whenever someone is giving you the runaround.

Sorry to hear that your dream has become a nightmare.  I was wondering what was taking so long with your project!  Hope that you can get some satisfaction by getting this experience out in the open and possibly have some action taken.
Title: Re: Carlisle Customs and Classics - DON'T GO THERE
Post by: (Tattoo) Jack on May 02, 2014, 05:18:04 pm

   OMG ... sorry to hear about that ordeal. Hope it gets better from here on.

Title: Re: Carlisle Customs and Classics - DON'T GO THERE
Post by: Rick_Bear on May 03, 2014, 07:53:06 am
You have friends that have been highly trained in the event you feel services such as Jimmy Hoffa received are required.

Knowing you I'm sure you won't let this one go and hope you don't!
Title: Re: Carlisle Customs and Classics - DON'T GO THERE
Post by: Death Wobble on May 03, 2014, 09:09:48 am
It's very strange...Last night I looked at their BBB page, and they had an F for billing / collection issues.  Today, I went back to look, and the slate is wiped clean with no complaints.  Amazing how it just disappeared like that!  I'd report them anyway.
Title: Re: Carlisle Customs and Classics - DON'T GO THERE
Post by: Colli on May 05, 2014, 07:33:43 pm
Yeah, I'm still undecided about contacting the BBB. I definitely plan on posting more feedback all over the internet. In the grand scheme of things though... he may have won some battles, but I won the war. If his invoices are even close to what the total job really cost in labor hours, (which I don't doubt after seeing first hand how bad the rust was) he lost way more money than he got out of me!  >:D