CENTREVILLE, Ill. — A military family is warning others about a truck repair business they say gave them a disastrous RV makeover.
They said the work was so bad, their RV was almost a complete loss.
Sometimes home is where you park it.
"It was dated, but it was very clean," said Kassandra Tippey when describing her 2000 Coachmen Mirada motorhome.
The RV was supposed to be a temporary home for Tippey, her active-duty pilot husband, two daughters and three dogs. The military family has been reassigned to Alaska.
They thought, along the way, they might as well see the country.
"We discovered it might be a fun family adventure to just get an RV where our pets can roam around, where our kids can use the restroom," said Tippey.
To prepare the RV for the long journey ahead, they took it to A&E Truck Center in Centerville.
Tippey said it was in good shape and didn't need much much. They paid $500 to have some maintenance done. Then they asked for some cosmetic upgrades.
"I thought it would be a good idea to make it pretty. I wanted to update it. Paint the walls gray, paint the cabinetry white. The original timeline, [Eric Zimmerman] said would take two-to-three weeks to have it painted," said Tippey.
Tippey said two-to-three weeks became 10 weeks.
And she grew impatient with A&E Truck Center owner: Eric Zimmerman.
"It became a game of excuses. He said the guys in the shop were sick. He said he had court. He said he had a shriner's meeting," said Tippey.
it wasn't until early June she finally got the RV back. Well, she got most of it back. The damage was detailed in a police report Tippey filed after picking up the RV.
"They ripped everything apart. They used packing tape to hold onto the stairs. They never primed it. There's exposed wiring throughout the whole RV now. They painted the carpet. Everything in here will have to be ripped out and replaced," said Tippey.
It's not the first time Zimmerman's truck center has been accused of not living up to their promises.
Since 2013, Zimmerman has been ordered by the courts to pay more than $18,000 to former customers for repairs he failed to make.
So what did the business owner have to say when we showed him the work?
I-Team: "Why is it such a mess? The dinette is all ripped up, there's clear tape on the floors."
ZImmerman: "No it's not ripped up. That was taken apart. Have you ever painted a house?"
I-Team: "But this is how they got it back?"
ZImmerman: "Yes ma'am."
I-Team: "Why does it look like that?"
Zimmerman didn't want to talk to our camera. But behind closed doors, he opened up
I-Team: "The Tippeys say you trashed their RV. What do you say to that?"
ZImmerman: "We didn't trash it. We took the RV apart. Everything was taken apart," said ZImmerman.
I-Team: "Was it put back together?"
ZImmerman: "No because they demanded it be done by 10:30 that morning."
I-Team: "They say you had ten weeks to work on it. The Tippeys showed us a series of text messages that seem to validate that."
ZImmerman: "No. She took five weeks to pick out the colors."
I-Team: "This is acceptable though? It's not even painted all the way."
ZImmerman: "We didn't not complete it. They demanded it back at 10:30 that Saturday morning."
I-Team: "So you just give it to them like this?"
ZImmerman: "We've sued them for a million dollars for defamation. [Kassie's husband] will not be going to Alaska on his trip."
I-Team: "You know he's active duty military."
ZImmerman: "Everyone keeps throwing that in my face. I understand that. That's a choice everybody makes. I respect that. We give 40% off. That's why we didn't require a deposit."
Zimmerman said he did not have enough time to complete the job and denied the family gave him ten weeks to work on the RV.
Kassie says it's taken $4,000 to repair the damage she said was done by Zimmerman. And she wants to warn others who may put their dreams in his hands.
Zimmerman's business — A&E Truck Center — is not registered to do business in the state of Illinois.
The Tippeys weren't charged for the work relating to the painting or flooring.
They said the police ultimately told them it was a civil matter. They say they're also planning on filing a lawsuit against Zimmerman.
The Tippeys leave for Alaska in their newly repaired RV on July 28.