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3 On Your Side

Tempe man 'taken for a ride' trying to save money on car repair

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Madan Vemula tried to save money on car repair by hiring a guy he saw online (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Madan Vemula tried to save money on car repair by hiring a guy he saw online (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Madan Vemula paid $1,600 for repairs but the work was sketchy (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Madan Vemula paid $1,600 for repairs but the work was sketchy (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Frankie Nicholas said health issues caused the delay in work but Vemula said the work was bad (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Frankie Nicholas said health issues caused the delay in work but Vemula said the work was bad (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Madan Vemula, who goes by Mady, says having a family and just one car is tough.

“We have a single car right now, and we're trying to manage the kids and my work with a single car,” Vemula said.

Vemula is down to just one car because his Camry was involved in an accident.

“I don't know what to do at that point," Vemula said. "I've never been in an accident.” 

Vemula turned to the Internet in hopes of getting his car repaired cheaper than say, a collision repair shop.

That's when he came across a guy by the name of Frankie Nicholas, who advertises himself as a mobile auto body repair man.

“This is the guy who responded in 30 minutes and said, 'I have a friend who is selling parts, everything you need for the car. For really cheap, I can do it for like $2,100,'” Vemula said.

For $2,100. Vemula says Nicholas claimed he could fix the car's frame, install a new radiator and condenser, repair the bumper, grill and headlights, just to name a few things.

Vemula says it sounded like a good deal and handed over $1,600 back in December to get the repairs started. 

“He said, 'I can get the car done before Christmas, worst case scenario, New Year’s,'" Vemula said.

But here we are in spring and Vemula's car still isn't repaired.

As for Nicholas, Vemula says the mobile repair man isn't returning phone calls anymore.

So 3 On Your Side got involved and we went to what was supposed to be Frankie's business.

But it turned out to be his home where Nicholas works on cars.

Turns out Nicholas says he wasn't surprised to see 3 On Your Side.

“Were you expecting me?” asked Gary Harper. 

Nicholas said he was and when 3 On Your Side asked him “why”?  

"He said he was going to call you,” Nicholas said.

So 3 On Your Side asked Nicholas what was going on.  Well, according to Nicholas, he says he's had health issues which put him behind.

“Okay, I understand what you're saying," Gary Harper. said. "But here's the deal, he gave you a lot of money, like $1,600."

"Actually, if you look at the car and put a price on the body work and the work I did on it, I'm trying to do him a favor and I'm trying to be a very nice person,” responded Nicholas. 

Nicholas went on to say the job may have been bigger than he thought but, after putting on a few more parts, the car can be picked up.

“I'll hang the bumper, the two lights, the bumper and the grill and I'm done,” Nicholas said. 

“And that will take a couple of days?” asked Harper.

"Yes, that will take a couple of days,” Nicholas replied.

Well, a couple of days turned into more than a week. But Vemula did get his car back, but it wasn't what he was expecting at all.

“The lights were coming off from this side and they were all hanging here and even this side were hanging here," Vemula said. "The radiator wasn't properly done and I asked him cause some of the bolts weren't good so he said ‘I don't know anything about it. Just take your car and go.’”

Well Vemula did take his car and managed to make it to another repair shop where he had to shell out another $900 just to get the car working right. 

Vemula says he'll never use a mobile repair service again, he'll never hand over money up front and he'll never do business with someone who does major repairs out of their house.

Vemula says at least he has his car back.

“I'm glad you guys are on my side and helped get back my car in a decent shape,” Vemula said of 3 On Your Side.

This a good reminder to always be careful when looking for goods or services online, especially when it's something major like a car repair.

We’re just glad we were able to get Vemula's car back because he didn't think he ever would.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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