KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alan Herbranson can start up the engine on the family van, he just can't put it into gear. It's a dire situation for Herbranson, who spent all of his savings paying a mechanic to fix the transmission on his family's only car.
The day Herbranson picked up the van from the repair shop, he knew there was a problem.
"It was clunking into first," he recalled.
Repair shop owner Donnie White of Dependable Auto told Herbranson to keep driving the vehicle and the problem would work itself out. But it just got worse, so he brought the vehicle back to Dependable Auto, a repair shop with no signage that operates out of a warehouse on North Church Road in Kansas City, Mo.
For the next four months, Herbranson's van just sat out front never getting fixed. Herbranson, a carpenter, was forced to rent a car to get to work.
"Week after week we heard different stories about why the van wasn't getting fixed," Herbranson said.
Finally, Herbranson gave up on waiting and towed the van back to his home Kansas City home. Donnie White, the repair shop owner, promised to refund Herbranson the $2,500 he'd been paid, but that was several months ago and Herbranson hasn't received a dime. Without the money, he can't afford to pay someone else to repair his van and has been unable to go to work.
It was Herbranson's wife Sarah who called FOX 4 Problem Solvers. What Problem Solvers learned about Dependable Auto wasn't good. The repair shop has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau and owner White has been sued multiple times. According to court records, he has several judgments against him from unhappy customers as well as the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Problem Solvers paid White a visit. He agreed the van's transmission wasn't working and he needed to refund Herbranson his money. White insisted he tried making payments to Herbranson, but Herbranson refused to take them and wanted all the money up front.
We told White the Herbransons were more than willing to take payments from White, and we would be happy to collect the first one. But White said he couldn't give us any money until the Herbransons had signed a formal agreement with him.
Concerned White was just stalling, we asked for a time and day the Herbransons needed to be there to sign the paperwork. White declined to give us one and said they'd just have to call him. But minutes after we left White, he called the Herbransons himself.
Alan Herbranson said he never offered them any money.
"He said basically 'F-you' guys," Herbranson said.
Tired of messing with White, Problem Solvers sought out a transmission repair expert Certified Transmission. Certified Transmission was more than happy to fix the van for free once we'd explain what the Herbransons had been through at the hands of Donnie White and Dependable Auto.
Certified Transmission expects to have the Herbransons' van repaired in time for Christmas. Perfect timing for a family that never expected this holiday to be a happy one.