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Customization of truck fuels big-money dispute

This has got to be one special truck.

Brian Lorenc said he paid $80,000 for the 2006 Ford F650 -- and he bought it used two years ago. Then came the customizing.

Soundproofing the truck cost nearly $2,500.

New leather seat covers carried a $1,900 price tag.

By the time workers at Kustom Workz in Depew also installed LED exterior lights and a speaker system, among other items, the bill totaled nearly $14,000.

"I told them I didn't want to spend that much," Lorenc said.

But the bill for the work is not even half of the story.

Kustom Workz said it tried to get paid, calling Lorenc and mailing bills for the $12,753 balance he owed, according to a State Supreme Court lawsuit.

After three weeks of trying -- but failing -- to get paid, the business in April 2011 stored the truck at Buffalo Truck Center and started charging Lorenc $75 a day for storage.

The medium-duty commercial truck has been there since. Lorenc hasn't seen it in more than a year.

Now the storage fee has reached $25,039, according to the lawsuit.

On top of the bill and storage fee, the company also wants $3,859 in interest and court costs. So before Lorenc can get back his truck, Kustom Workz wants $41,652, according to the lawsuit.

The business won a judgment for that amount earlier this month, after Lorenc failed to contest the lawsuit.

Michael Penfold, the owner of Kustom Workz, did not return a message seeking comment.

Attorney Erin E. Cole, who represents Kustom Workz, declined to comment, saying the court papers reveal all of the information she wishes to share about the case.

Lorenc said he wants his truck back. "I'm not happy about it. I'm not going to let the truck go," he told The Buffalo News.

He said he anticipates settling with the Depew business. The two sides talked Tuesday, after The News began inquiring about the dispute, he said.

"We'll probably work it out," Lorenc said.

Lorenc said a $420 charge for cleaning the truck especially irked him.

He said he watched an employee use a hose to spray water on the truck. "I was there," Lorenc said. "I watched the kid spray the truck."

The bill indicates an employee, for $60 an hour, spent seven hours cleaning the truck. "There's no way it took them seven hours to wash a truck," Lorenc said.

When he brought the truck to Kustom Workz, Lorenc expected to pay about $8,000 for the work.

"I had an issue paying this because of the stupid charges they put in the bill," he said.

Why has it taken so long to settle the dispute?

Lorenc said he called the business' lawyer twice and left messages, but he did not hear back. He recently returned from out of state to find the judgment had been granted for Kustom Workz.

Buffalo Truck Center, which sought a lien on the truck because it had not been paid, has been charging $35 a day for storage, according to Lorenc, who obtained its bill.

He said Kustom Workz inflated the storage fee. "How does it go from $35 a day to $75?" he asked.

Kustom Workz "has been made to store defendant's vehicle as a result of defendant's failure to pay his bill and claim his vehicle," according to the lawsuit.

The business said in its lawsuit that it entered into a binding contract for the requested services and products and that Lorenc agreed to pay for them.

A Kustom Workz work order included in court papers indicates the business tried to contact Lorenc: "Called many times, sent bills and no money. Promised many times to stop in and pay. Called Brian and told him this is his last chance to settle. Called Brian again. No response."

Lorenc, 43, a contractor who lives in the Village of Lancaster, said he bought the truck for personal use and wants it back. He also wants his bill lowered.

"I didn't do anything wrong," he said.

email: plakamp@buffnews.com