OLATHE, Kan. — Customers of a Johnson County auto shop are left hanging now that the business has been seized for what the state of Kansas says is tax evasion.
“In a way, I was kind of held hostage with my car, because my car was here, unless I got it towed,” said Geri Azinger, a customer of Econo Lube N’ Tune in Olathe.
The Kansas Department of Revenue Civil Tax Enforcement and Johnson County Sherriff’s officers seized the business assets of Econo Lube N’ Tune and Meineke Car Care Center.
The auto repair shops at 13395 S. Blackbob Road, Olathe and 7525 Metcalf Ave.,Overland Park, were sealed closed. Investigators say the business owed the state $31,362 in sales taxes.
The owner –John Callagy — has two tax warrants against him in Johnson County for both sites.
Now customers who’ve spent thousands of dollars want answers. Azinger went to Econo Lube N’ Tune back in November just for an oil change.
“One thing led to another,” Azinger explained.
They offered to fix other things they said were wrong with her car.
“Then they told me they would have to take the engine apart, it had major engine problems,” Azinger added.
Five visits later and her car was worse than before. She’s been driving a rental for a month now for the most recent issues, and decided to swing by Thursday night when she was having trouble getting ahold of the business.
“When I got here, it was swarmed with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, and they were serving tax papers,” added Azinger, “My car was sitting over here in the parking lot, with the hood ajar, and just happened to see that nothing had been done,I looked inside, and all the parts had been stripped from the inside where the engine is at.”
A former employee, Cody Lackamp, says he worked there almost five years.
“Money was tight, and there was a little bit up in pricing,” Lackamp said.
He also says he was asked to do work on cars that he felt didn’t need to be done… often costing customers more than necessary.
“A few cars, I did not agree with the diagnosis, or the repairs that were being done,” Lackamp added.
Lackamp says he knew the business was struggling for at least a year but didn’t know the taxes weren’t being paid.
“There were definitely poor choices made by the owner,” Lackamp said.
Azinger says she’s spent at least $4,000 on her BMW at the business, and now has to fix all the new damage on top of that at a different shop.
“It’s just turning into a really big nightmare,” said Azinger.
Azinger says she’s very frustrated, and doesn’t even know if she has all the parts to her car back, but she’s thankful the doors are closed, and hopes others do their homework.
“I made an error in judgement, and it’s sad because so many people, I think, want to put their trust in places like this,” Azinger said. “I am extremely happy, because no one else is going to get taken advantage of like I have.”
Customers are hoping to get at least some of their money back, but whether that will actually happen is still unknown.