A Welsh couple claims convicted car repair fraudster Karl Abbott threatened them when they asked for a refund.
Former Queenstown working holiday-makers Sam Forbes and Angus Lewis-Jones wanted $1400 back, describing Abbott’s repairs on their 1990 Toyota Liteace van as “poxy”.
Taking the van in for a check-up last October, Abbott quoted $500. The van was returned two weeks later with a $900 bill for a cracked head, new water pump, radiator, oil and filter.
In December, Forbes returned the van – leaking oil. A $475 bill followed for a cracked rear seal, oil and five hours’ labour.
In January, oil began leaking from the same place, Forbes says.
“I took it back and he said it was the front seal that he did, not the rear and [his other mechanics] got it muddled up.”
Forbes went to another mechanic who said the head that Abbott claimed to have fixed was actually “warped” – something that wouldn’t happen two months after being repaired.
The replaced radiator was also “too big and was rubbing against the chassis … and it was rusty”, Forbes says.
The couple planned to leave Queenstown last month to drive to Auckland. Instead, with the van off the road, they were forced to buy another car, change airfares and sleep on couches.
Forbes phoned Abbott early February to tell him he wanted money back.
“He was like, ‘No way, I’m not giving you any money’.
“I said, ‘I’m pretty sure the newspapers and police would want to hear about this’ and then he went mad.
“He kept screaming over and over saying, ‘If you f*****g go to the police or papers I’m going to make sure you don’t leave this f*****g country’. He said ‘I’ve been around for so long, you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who I know’,” Forbes claims.
“It was a bit scary. Then he phoned the next day to apologise.”
The van, which the couple are trying to sell from afar, is still in Queenstown.
Abbott won’t comment.
Queenstown sparkie Rob Dickinson says he paid Abbott $300 to replace a cambelt – but claims Abbott never installed the part.
Dickinson, 35, says he took his Toyota Corolla to Abbott in 2007. Months later – after Mountain Scene’s July 2007 report about a complaint against Abbott’s work on a local taxi-van – Dickinson checked his cambelt. “It was the same belt. You can tell when a cambelt is worn.”
Dickinson says he hit Abbott up about it in a bar last year and Abbott offered him money. Dickinson declined money and told Abbott he thought he was a “rip-off wanker”.
Neither Abbott, nor partner Rhonda Tomlin, would comment.
Queenstown manager Glenn Maiden, 38, claims in 2007 he gave Abbott his cheapie Honda to fix a cracked engine head – and didn’t get it back for three months. He paid $600 for repairs and it overheated within an hour of Abbott returning it. Maiden, a former Fernhill neighbour of Abbott’s on Lochy Road, returned the Honda to Abbott, saying it wasn’t fixed. “I never saw it again. I was following up for about nine months. I just gave up,” Maiden says.
“I’m more bitter he’s still operating and doing it to other people.”
Abbott’s partner Tomlin wouldn’t comment. “No idea. That’s too far back.”
– Ryan Keen