BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — Seventy-nine-year-old Sue Adams likes to keep her garage-kept car clean. For years, she was loyal customer of the Blue Dolphin Car Wash on Cortez Road in Bradenton.
In 2019, she forked over $481.50 for 10 gift certificates for detailed car washes at the Blue Dolphin and got two free.
“I also have given some of these out as gifts,” she said. “They do a great job.”
During the pandemic, however, Adams said she didn’t drive much and didn’t need fancy car washes, so she has six car wash certificates left.
The value of each one is $48.15 and the expiration date is clearly listed as March 2025. But when she went to use one recently, she was turned away.
“We’re under new ownership and we don’t accept them,” Adams said. “I was just in shock.”
Blue Dolphin’s website touts it has been in operation 35 years in Manatee County and says “customers are always greeted with a positive attitude and respect.”
Consumer Investigator Shannon Behnken went to the carwash. Then, an employee called the owner, ordered her to leave and threatened to call the police. The owner did not return calls for comment.
Consumer attorney Charles Gallagher said the law is on Adams’ side.
“Florida law agrees with her,” Gallagher said. “I think they should be honoring those gift certificates. The same company issued them at the outset. We’re not talking about a new entity. If there was some problem where the new owner didn’t understand he had outstanding liabilities with the purchase, that’s his fault.”
He said a business owner needs to do their homework.
“There’s a due diligence period when there’s any kind of purchase from one business to another. Take your time, ask the extent of the liabilities,” Gallagher said.