Jim Doherty will never forget the phone call he got from his daughter saying she needed help three hours into a 12-hour drive to North Carolina.
"(She) hydroplaned, lost control, over-corrected, hit a guardrail with the front end of her car and that’s what caused the accident," Doherty said.
First responders on the scene called for a tow and off it went to Quality Towing and Auto Repair (QTR) in Westport.
In hindsight, Doherty wishes he asked his insurance company for an approved shop so his repair work would come with a guarantee. Instead, his insurer cut QTR a $5,000 check and three months later he got his vehicle back.
Fast forward to July, Doherty takes the car to his mechanic, who tells him to pull it off the road immediately.
"They did not replace the bumper (and) behind the vinyl cover was not replaced," Doherty said. "The welding around the radiator was really poorly done, there were a couple pieces missing with the air intake."
He blames QTR since they handled his car last. At first, QTR said they stand by their work.
Doherty felt conflicted and unsure of how he’d pay for the repairs himself, but grateful because without the second look, Doherty said he never would’ve known of the problems.
"Unless she gets in an accident and gets killed," he said. "There was nothing protecting the front of that car, except for the engine."
When Doherty expressed his concerns, QTR asked for a written report from Doherty’s insurance inspector.
In it, his inspector wrote, in his opinion, the car is not safe to drive. Doherty thought, with that, he was all set. He wasn’t.
"They said, 'Okay, we’ll pick it up on Saturday,' and nobody shows," Doherty said. "'Okay, well it was the holiday weekend. We’ll pick it up the following weekend.' Nobody showed. And then after that, nobody’s answering the phones that we’re calling. So that was kind of a dead end."
He tried for weeks before contacting NBC Connecticut Responds. We got a response from QTR the same day we reached out. The manager apologized and said, "We had a death in the family and this got by me."
He offered to pick the car up the next day to make the necessary repairs. Soon after, Doherty’s insurance inspector gave the final OK.