ROANOKE RAPIDS, NC — A classic car dealership and garage are accused of exploiting customers, charging high fees for storing their cars and then trying to take possession of customers’ cars when they dispute the bills.
Vivian Pompliano, owner of Pomp Boys Motors, faces four counts of exploiting the disabled or elderly and one count of acquiring property by committing fraud. Her dealer license was also revoked. Sources told 5 On Your Side that they believe the company is using mechanic liens to take advantage of its customers.
Danny Greene is a Pomp Boys customer who says he’s had trouble with them. He had high 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 to be 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 was never touched,” claims Greene.
Greene had enough. He wanted to take his car elsewhere but says he couldn’t get Pomp Boys on the phone. There was rarely anyone in the shop and if they saw a mechanic they wouldn’t unlock the door. So Greene, a FedEx contractor, tried a different approach.
“Drived 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 checked my car and told him nothing was done so I’m coming to get my car,” Greene told 5 On Your Side.
The mechanic named Pompliano. Pompliano called the Roanoke Rapids Police Department.
“The police came and they said, well, it’s yours,” Greene said.
Officers let Greene take his car but also charged him with the misdemeanor of breaking and entering.
5 On Your Side went to Pomp Boys Motors to find out what happened. The shop doors were locked and it appeared to be closed. While our crew was trying to figure out if anyone was on the property, Pompliano pulled up. She only talked to us with the camera off.
Pompliano claimed Greene owed her money and that she placed a mechanic’s lien on his car.
“There’s no lien, I mean I gave her $5,000 down payment to start the car, they never started,” argues Greene.
5 On Your Side checked – and found no lien on Greene’s car. However, WRAL found that Pomp Boys had filed mechanic liens against customers dozens of times.
Mechanic liens are a common legal tool that garages can use when there is a billing dispute with a customer. The garage can take these liens all the way to civil court and try to convince a judge that they will sell the car for the amount a customer owes.
From 2019 to 2021, North Carolina mechanic liens were initiated 219,448 times. Approximately 34% of the time, or 73,748 times, these liens resulted in an intent-to-sell filing against a car owner. A car owner can challenge these communications in a civil court; However, if a judge rules in favor of the garage that filed the lien, the garage can sell the car.
5 On Your Side has also looked at mechanic liens filed by Pomp Boys Motors. From opening in 2020 to the end of 2021, they filed 16 liens against customers. Each time, Pomp Boys also filed a “Notice of Intent to Sell.” That’s a 100% rate compared to the state rate of 34%.
We dug through one of the civil court filings involving the Pomp Boys. In it, a woman says her husband has died. When she went to pick up his car from Pomp Boys, the store tried to charge her an outrageous storage fee. When she refused to pay, the store filed a “Notice of Intent to Sell” for the car. In the filing, Pomp Boys argue they told the husband in advance how much storage would cost.
“I think they should be prosecuted,” Green told WRAL News.
Other complaints against Pomp Boys Motors are currently being investigated.
In some cases, customers have had problems with Pomp Boys after making verbal agreements with them. Your best protection, according to the DMV, is to get everything in writing.
“Know that you have the right to challenge this if they overcharge you or if you disagree with what they want to charge you,” said Michelle Johnson, program director at the NCDMV’s Licensing and Theft Office.
However, be prepared for the possibility of taking the dispute to court if necessary. That’s why it’s important to know as much as you can about a mechanic before taking your car to them.
Before you sign any contract or employment agreement, read it carefully. Greene’s quote from Pomp Boys Motors gives the shop the ability to charge Greene for work he hasn’t agreed to, and Pomp Boys wouldn’t even have to tell him if they were putting new or used parts on the car.
The law also requires “a statement identifying each replacement part as used, rebuilt, or refurbished, as the case may be.”
It is also a violation of “Replacing used, rebuilt, salvaged, or straightened parts with new replacement parts without notifying the motor vehicle owner…”
Pomp Boys Motors’ dealer license was also revoked in July, and they faced a civil penalty after the DMV found multiple violations in the way Pomp Boys inspected, documented and sold cars.