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THORNTON, Colo. -- A quick wash has now become a weeks long battle for Irma Romero.
On March 5, Romero went to the Bubble Time Express Carwash in Thornton. When her car wasn't properly cleaned the first time around, she went again. Both times, Romero says a faulty track caused her to lose control.
"It’s scary when soap is all over your window and you can't see and your wheels are going back-and-forth," Romero explained.
Looking back, Romero wishes she left after the first run. She says the second trip ended with damage to the back of her car.
"Then I went in there a second time, I had soap all over my car and then my wheels started wiggling again. So I kind of got nervous like, 'Oh my God,'" Romero told Denver7.
Romero says she followed the instruction by keeping her car in neutral, not braking, and not steering. Yet, midway through the wash, she felt her car jolt. When the wash was complete she realized the next car in the was had rear-ended her. The driver was Lupe Lopez.
"Almost like halfway through I felt like, a push. A really big push and then I looked up and I seen that I was hitting the lady in front of me," Lopez said.
We put a Denver 7 vehicle through the same car wash with no issues.
However, both Lopez and Romero claim they lost control in the same manner. Lopez says she bumped into Romero's car twice.
"I put my break on to make it stop and she started getting more space so she started going more and I took my foot off the break, and then after a few more seconds, it did it again. It just pushed me right into her," explained Lopez.
Lopez tells Denver7 she even got stuck in the car wash for about ten minutes.
"I kept honking and honking for these guys to go out there and stop the machinery," said Lopez.
Both say an employee at the wash told them they'd been having issues with the equipment.
The Vice President of Operations for Bubble Time, Matthew Munoz, tells Denver7 600 cars were washed that day and "the two cars involved in this incident are the only ones who reported a damage claim involving this situation. If there was an equipment malfunction in our tunnel, it would have been impossible to run that many cars without having a significant amount of damage claims similar to this."
Munoz also said, "We told her (Romero) to get a few estimates for damage cost and look into things further on our end. We didn’t say we were taking fault, but that it would be the next step in our process for a normal damage claim."
On Friday, Munoz sent a lengthier statement from the company, which reads as follows:
First off it is unfortunate that anything of this nature happened. It is unfortunate that any customer had to reach out to a news source to feel heard. Our company prides itself on being a locally owned and operated car wash that provides a clean car as well as a safe wash experience every time. We have also been working with this customer directly and we have been waiting on her to send us estimates.
Being an operator since 2019 when we opened our first car wash, we have not had damages caused by our wash that were not already prior/existing damages; or customer caused damage. We do have a car wash damage policy that we follow to ensure that every customer who files a claim against our car wash is heard. That does not mean nor has it ever meant we are responsible and we make sure to let anyone know that upon filling out a damage claim against our car wash.
When it comes to the damages you are requesting information for; I want to make sure we clarify the details.
When there is ever a collision in our tunnel, we follow this process:
1. Our staff verifies if this collision was a cause due to an equipment malfunction.
2. We verify if a similar incident was reported throughout the day.
3. We let the customer know at that point and time that there was/wasn’t an equipment malfunction in our tunnel.
4. If there would ever be a malfunction in our tunnel, we will definitely set things straight and cover all costs to fix the damages. That is our policy 100% of the time.
5. If a collision in our tunnel was not caused by an equipment malfunction, we let that customer know who is reporting it to us that they can
absolutely file a damage claim form. However, we also ask them to file a report with the Thornton PD. We request this so that there is a police report on file when we direct them to take the claim up with the insurance of the car that caused the damages. We also do our best to give them the information on file for the other driver if they refuse to give that information up.
Referencing this specific damage claim you are asking about; the customer was advised of all of these things on the day of the incident. With that being said, she emailed our manager in which we relayed the same message. We told her to get a few estimates for damage cost and look into things further on our end. We didn’t say we were taking fault, but that it would be the next step in our process for a normal damage claim. Once she messaged our manager back stating she had the damage estimates, she was advised to send them to my email which she still has not done up to this moment on March 22, 2021.
Had this been done as requested, our owners had authorized us to fix the damages that this customer was claiming. Not because it was caused by a wash malfunction, but because in the world we live in today, everyone needs a helping hand. Again, as we stated to her, we are not taking responsibility; we just want to help this customer out in a time of need.
With all of that being said, on March 5th we washed 600 cars. Of the 600 cars we washed, the two cars involved in this incident are the only ones who reported a damage claim involving this situation. If there was an equipment malfunction in our tunnel, it would have been impossible to run that many cars without having a significant amount of damage claims similar to this. The conveyor system we use to operate our car wash is tried and true when it comes to safety and handling. You can check among other car washes around the country and they will tell you the same thing. Those conveyor-operated systems don’t fail unless it is customer-caused. That is why we stress the importance of keeping your foot off the brakes, your car in neutral, etc. This is displayed on our signage at the beginning of the tunnel and it is pointed out by our team when loading every single vehicle. A large majority of customer damages that are claimed to have happened due to a conveyor-related issue are customer-caused, i.e. putting their foot on the brakes. We wash thousands of cars a month and do a lot of upkeep on our tunnel and car wash as a whole. That is why this incident is truly unfortunate. I know she says that an employee told her that something was wrong, but the information that she has relayed to you of it being equipment-related is hearsay. The only employees allowed to assess a damage situation and certify cause is the Site Manager or myself. This customer was upset which she was fully entitled to be. However, her version of things isn't as they happened on March 5th.
Being a locally owned and operated business, we strive to be the best that we can possibly be in all scenarios. We give back to charities often and we fundraise periodically throughout the year to help those who need it most. We maintained full employment for all of our staff and continued hiring while maintaining safety during these tough COVID times. Our intention is to create a positive environment for our team, our customers, and our community. The most hurtful part of this is that we reached out to Channel 7 News to help us find a family in need to donate to in honor of the Grand Opening of our second carwash and unfortunately you couldn’t help us. However, now you are quick to respond to negative attention that is meant to hurt our company.
With all of this being said, we stand by our policies and cover ourselves for matters similar to this that could ever happen at any car wash. When it comes to this particular situation, we did everything that we could to answer her questions and/or concerns without cooperation from her. Instead of wasting time reaching out to try and slander a locally owned and operated company doing everything we can to give back, she should have sent the estimates to us as requested. This would have all been resolved and there would have been no need to waste your time.
We do appreciate you caring about what is happening in the community, however, if the full facts were presented to you as they should have been, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. If you really think promoting a story about our company is important, you could report on a cause that is near and dear to us called “A Precious Child”. We will be making a large donation to this charity and would love to get more publicity to help them out. They are currently running a donation match campaign. Here is a link to their website https://apreciouschild.org.
I hope this clarifies that we aren’t running from this incident, we just never heard back from her. We plan to help out in any way that we can because that is who we are as a company.
VP of Operations
Romero sent a quote on Thursday for $2,565.08 but was told by Bubble Time she would need three quotes. She's now going through her insurance.
Thornton Police told her it was a civil matter.