Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: March 22, 2017

Paint job leads to nightmare for biz owner

Mike Selmer
Mike Selmer

Of the Keizertimes

For the past five months, Jerry Long’s RV has been sitting in the parking lot of a Scio-based auto repair shop. It went in for a paint job, and as far as Long can tell, the only work that’s been done is to remove pieces from it.

“My main concern is that someone else will get screwed,” said Long, owner of Keizer’s ABB Stoves.

In August of 2016, Long and his manager at the store came to an agreement with the owner of Mike’s Auto Repair and Towing, Mike Selmer, to recondition, repaint and perform some other work on a 1995 Monaco Executive RV and repaint a 1986 GMC Jimmy pick-up.

Long found out about Selmer from an employee who had sent a vehicle in for repairs and was satisfied with the work. Based on that recommendation, he sent one of the company’s van in for repairs and Long was also satisfied with the quality.

Long had no idea what he was in store far with the RV work, or that Selmer is a convicted felon with a lengthy list of prior offenses and convictions.

Long was given a total estimate of $6,800 and gave Selmer a $3,500 deposit. The two men agreed that the RV work would be completed by Oct. 25 and the pick-up would be completed within three weeks after that. Selmer picked up the vehicles in the second week of September.

In the first week of October, Selmer went to ABB Stove store and said he would need an additional $600 for fiberglass needed to complete the RV’s paint job. Long said he agreed to the additional charge and cut a check for the remaining balance, $4,200.

In the midst of working toward the RV repairs, Long connected with Selmer on other business-related transactions. Long installed two ductless heating systems at Selmer’s Scio shop and cut another $3,000 check to purchase a forklift for ABB Stoves that Selmer claimed was available at an auction in Baker City, Ore. He has yet to be paid for the heating units and installation, a total of more than $3,280. The forklift never materialized either.

The October deadline came and went, but Selmer claimed that work was continuing and he would get the RV finished in time for a trip Long had planned around Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving passed and there was no sign of the RV. Then, Long said, Selmer started ignoring his phone calls, text messages and emails.

By the end of December, Long said he and his manager had made several trips to the Scio shop and were unable to catch Selmer at work. He did, however, see the RV.

“It was sitting outside, unplugged and lights and canopy had all been taken off of it. The lights, mirrors and canopy had to be removed to repaint, but there were also things that didn’t need to be taken off, like the fan belt and all the screws in the dashboard,” Long said.

Keeping the RV unplugged from a power source can lead to other troubles. Even while resting, some components of Long’s vehicle, like the refrigerator, need power. Without it, the fridge will eventually suck all the life from the batteries and then fail when the ammonia that helps cool the unit settles.

The pick-up’s bumper had also been removed, but no paint work had been done.

While they didn’t connect with Selmer, they did meet Rey Garcia, the owner of Rey’s Auto which is next door to Selmer’s shop. It turned out Garcia would be the one doing the painting, and Garcia said he was told by Selmer that Long had declined to pay the extra amount for the fiberglass.

“He also overcharged me,” said Long. “Rey said it only would have been $300. I was also led to believe that Rey worked for Selmer.”

Garcia also tipped Long off to Selmer’s past criminal record.

Selmer has had run-ins with law enforcement dating back to at least 1999 and include multiple convictions for theft, aggravated theft, forgery and even one for sexual abuse and then failing to register as a sex offender. The Statesman Journal did an investigative piece on Selmer for fraudulent towing in 2014. Selmer has four registered business names, Mike’s Auto Repair and Towing, Northwest Emergency Services, Mike Automotive Repair, Inc. and Auto-Medics Auto Repair. Only Mike’s Auto Repair and Towing has a rating with the Northwest Better Business Bureau, it’s a D+.

Long returned to the shop in January, and the RV was in even worse condition. Since it was left unlocked, Long went inside and found evidence someone had been living in the RV. There was trash throughout the unit, scratches on the counters and floors, a sleeping bag, a stash of clothes and the toilet and shower had been used. The roof had also begun to leak.

“I think all the snow during the winter piled on top and it began to leak since it was just left there unheated,” Long said.

He did manage to catch Selmer at the site – after leaving for lunch and returning to the shop – but received only more assurances that the work would be completed.

“We were there on a Tuesday and he guaranteed the RV would be done the following Monday and forklift would be delivered next week,” Long said.

Selmer, reached by phone Tuesday, March 15, said that Long entered into the agreement with full knowledge that Garcia would be the one to do the paint job, and that his only part in the deal was to strip down the exterior to make way for the paint job along. He blamed Garcia for holding things up.

“Right now, the paint job is done, but there is one part that was not done right and I won’t take possession back until it’s repaired. If (Jerry) wants me to take it back, I’m happy to do that, but the job has not been done,” Selmer said.

Long said he was under the impression that Selmer and his employees were taking care of all the work until meeting Garcia in December.

Selmer said Garcia has already been paid in full for the paint job. Calls to Rey’s Auto in Scio went to voicemail.

In regard to the as-yet, unpaid-for heating units, Selmer claimed that those items were taken in trade for the body work as well as cleaning in the diesel tank on the RV. He did not comment on the forklift. Additionally, Selmer claimed all conversations about the deals were recorded on body cameras and cell phones.

Long denies that the heating units were sold and installed as part of a trade agreement, and said the original estimate and the $600 extra payment were supposed to cover all the work.

The last contact Long had with Selmer was in January when Selmer met him at a south Salem auto shop to show Long the high-quality lights he planned on purchasing for the RV as a make-good gesture.

Long has sent complaints to the Better Business Bureau and filed others with the Oregon Department of Justice (ODOJ). Representatives of the ODOJ told him they were powerless when it came to the business transactions regarding the forklift and heating installations. Long is still waiting to find out if the consumer complaints will be assigned to an attorney.

Selmer said the audio and visual recordings of conversations with Long have been sent to the BBB to rebut the claims.

“I just don’t understand how he is still allowed to operate and I don’t want anyone else to be hurt by him,” Long said.