Stranded in NJ and out of options

Stranded in NJ and out of options

From Tobia Mae Elgersma

A mechanic here in NJ is holding our truck hostage, leaving us with no way to move ourselves and the camper. We already paid for our stay in FL, Ethan's job is down there, and southern NJ campgrounds all close in a week.

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This September our family of five (twin toddlers, our beautiful daughter, and now one on the way) started living and working full time in our camper.  One of our first stops was here in NJ where we planned on spending a much needed Thanksgiving holiday with our relatives.  However our plans were quickly hampered due to our work situation falling through making it necessary to return south to continue making an income.  Before leaving we dropped our F350, our only vehicle used for work and pulling our camper, off at a local mechanic to have the oil changed and a sensor checked out before starting the thousand mile trip.  What followed was a nightmare.  Three weeks of delays, ever changing stories, and finally the realization that the shop owner was not only ignoring our requests for what we wanted done but instructing his mechanic to do work we had specifically asked him not to perform.  Even with many assurances that we would soon be on our way we realized we were being strung along and the campground we were staying at was closing for the winter in a week.  We finally received word last week that our truck was not running and the owner claimed he had performed $5000 worth of work and demanded a certified bank check before he would release the vehicle.  When we asked why he had never notified us of the work he was doing to the vehicle he had no answer.  We asked to see the bill and were told we could not see it until we presented him with a certified check.  We asked to use our credit cards and were told he would not accept them.  When we asked to have access to our vehicle to at least see what had been done to it he refused and locked it in his shop, threatening to begin tearing parts out of it if we didn't pay.  Stranded with no options and only a little over $600 in our bank account we called the police to file a report, but they informed us there was nothing else they could do due to it being a civil matter.  We filled out reports with the BBB and consumer complaints as well as called multiple legal offices, all of which are closed for the holidays or due to Covid.  We are hoping to receive a call back or a response next week but in the meantime we are trying to negotiate with the owner to have our truck returned to us.  The last conversation we had he lowered his price to $3800 to release the vehicle to us so we are attempting to come up with that amount to have the truck released next week.  I made contact with a local mechanic here who is willing to let me use his shop and diagnostic tools and give me whatever aid i need to repair what they did and get the truck running (he was confident we could get it back to normal in a day or two).  This would give us just enough time to move the camper and head out before the campground closes.  We would then continue our legal battle with the owner of the shop but without him being able to claim storage costs or abandonment.  We would attempt to stay in NJ and fight the legal battle before paying him, but we have to relocate ASAP to somewhere we have income  Any financial help to overcome this impossible situation would be appreciated beyond belief.  No one expects something like this to happen and we have used up all our options and are now reaching out for help.  From all of us:  Ethan, Tobia, Haven, David and Ethan Jr (and the little one on the way) Thank you and Merry Christmas.♡

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