The Pressure Washer Story
The Most Expensive Pressure Washer I Ever Bought
Written 11/2011 rewritten 02/2016 unedited
This is a story about our stubbornness and determination to try and make right a very wrongful action by an unscrupulous and lying tool sales company in Miami. In 2004, we had purchased a pressure washer with a Honda engine from them.
Turns out it was a copy they had made in China, and it was defective.
The problem could have been solved in a few minutes by any legitimate and honest tool company, but it didn’t work out that way.
Every word of this story is just as it actually happened, we were just fortunate that we had the physical stamina, and the financial ability to fight them.
The owner of the tool company, USA Tools, was Mr. Antonio Hernandez. He felt he had the right to lie about everything, and he obviously felt he could get away with it.
We found out later that the reason was because he had free legal advice from his wife who worked in an attorney’s office.
Mr. Hernandez liked to act as if he were an attorney himself, and pretty much made a real fool out of himself. I remember hearing a quote that said, he who represents himself in court, has a fool for a client, and Mr. Hernandez did just that.
Hernandez wrote all kinds of legal briefs, he fabricated stories, made up outright lies, and he did all sorts of things so as to prolong our legal battle with him as well as add on to our legal costs. Hernandez was hoping we would give up, but we didn’t.
The more he fabricated lies, and filed briefs, the more determined we became.
Antonio Hernandez kept up the legal maneuvers from March 2004, to January 7, 2008, that was when we finally thought the case was finished, and we had won.
Then on November 21, 2011, we were served with a civil action summons, between
USA Tools and Biscayne bank. It appears that Biscayne bank was after Mr. Hernandez of
USA Tools, for some other crooked thing he had done, and although we had nothing whatsoever to do with USA Tool, our name was on the summons. Thus we had to pay our attorney to respond to it and get our name removed.
If you get bored reading this story, remember, my wife Katherine and I, had to endure this indignity by USA Tool for over 4 years and having our attorneys complying and responding to Hernandez’s lies and court requests, and it all had to be done with our own attorneys, and all at our expense, so this is how it started.
In September 2001, my wife Katherine and I purchased a piece of property in the Florida Keys, located at 160 Palo De Oro Blvd, in Islamorada.
The property we purchased, was 7/8 of an acre in size, and it had an odd 1960’s somewhat “Art Deco” looking house on it.
The property was very unusual because it had 150 feet of seawall and a boat slip that was built under the front of the house.
The seawall, faced “Snake Creek”, which was the main waterway connecting the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.
The property having been built in 1967 was pretty run down by the time we purchased it in 2001. It had been rented out and sold several times over the last 34 years, and we were the fourth owners.
By 2001, all the old concrete work that had been done on the seawall back in 1967, was now deteriorating and rust spots were staining the concrete everywhere.
The unsightly rust stains were being caused by rotting rebar inside the concrete and from hundreds of iron screws that had been put into the seawall over the years to support rubber tires that had once been used as boat bumpers.
Then to make matters worse, the rust stained concrete on the seawall had been painted over with several coats of battleship gray paint.
When we bought the property, Katherine and I were fully prepared to take on the job of renovating and repairing everything, so one of the many projects that I knew needed to be taken care of, was removing the horrible rust stains on all the concrete seawall and walkways.
We purchased a 2500 PSI pressure washer from a local Home Depot hardware store, and we bought a kit to be able to use the pressure washer as a sandblaster. Using the pressure washer as a sandblaster now required us to haul down to the Keys bag after bag of dry sand suitable for sandblasting.
At first, our son in law, John Troutman, came down every week end, to help us with the sandblasting, as it was really horrible work, to do in the 100 degree temperatures of the Florida Keys summer.
By the end of the first summer, my daughter and my son in law, had decided to leave South Florida and move upstate.
When they did that, I stopped my other projects, and I took up continuing the sandblasting job that my son-in-law John had started.
By the time I got about ½ way down the seawall and walkways, the pressure washer stopped working, and that ended my sandblasting project. We had just worn the small pressure washer out.
I could see that the Home Depot pressure washer we had used, was not strong enough for the job, as it only produced 2500 PSI, and this had made the sandblasting a very slow job, so I already knew that a more powerful pressure washer would make the sandblasting job go a lot faster.
Katherine and I discussed the problem and from our office in Miami, she started shopping around for a more powerful pressure washer. To do this she looked in various tool company advertisements that we received in the mail, as well as the local Miami phone book.
Eventually Katherine located a 3500 PSI pressure washer and it was being advertised in the phone book under the heading pressure washers. It was being advertised by a local tool company located near us called USA Tools Inc.
The 3500 PSI machine she located was obviously going to be much more powerful than the 2500 PSI pressure washer we had been using.
On January 8, 2004, Katherine requested a quote from the USA Tools Inc, and on the same day, January 8, 2004, they responded with what they said was their regular stock item. A Great Eagle Model QN-ZT-24, pressure washer with a 13 HP Honda engine. The price was $899.00 for the pressure washer, and the sandblasting gun kit was an additional $18.99.
The USA Tools company salesman said that delivery was available immediately.
On Jan 9, 2004 we issued a purchase order to USA Tool and offered payment by American Express. They wouldn’t accept AMEX, so we issued a company check for $919.18.
When we found out they wouldn’t accept American Express, it should have been a warning to us. American Express will always assist a customer if you have a problem with a purchase, that’s when I should have smelled a rat, but because we were anxious to get back to our sandblasting work in the Keys, we were not as diligent as we should have been.
We sent our warehouse manager and a shop employee over to USA Tools to pick up the pressure washer in our Chevrolet Astro Van.
That very next Friday evening we brought the pressure washer down to our house in the Keys.
Early on Saturday morning, I sat down to read the instruction manual for our new pressure washer, and that’s when I noticed that part of the instruction manual was printed in reverse, which I thought was pretty strange. The only way l could read the manual, was by holding it up to a mirror.
As I read the manual, it now appeared that the pressure washer did not have a Honda engine in it, but rather a look alike Honda engine made in China.
The manual specified the type of oil to be used, and we went out to a local Tom Thumb Mart, and purchased a few quarts of the correct oil.
After adding the oil and reading the instructions again, I rolled the machine down to the seawall to start sandblasting.
The second problem I encountered was that the fitting where the garden water hose attached would not accept our garden hose. It appeared to be a metric fitting and not the correct U.S. size. To fix the problem, I removing one from the old pressure washer machine we had.
The next problem was that the rope starter didn’t work properly. The starter rope would not recoil, once pulled. Upon close examination, I saw that the sheet metal cover over the rope starter, had been improperly put together. So to repair it, required me to loosen the screws and reassemble the cover, putting several spacer washers in the correct place.
At that point, I was wondering how many more problems, could I possibly encounter with the new pressure washer machine.
I started the engine and went to set up the bucket of sand to begin sandblasting.
The pressure washer had been running for about 3 minutes when I heard Katherine yelling that there was oil pouring out of the pressure washer engine, so I immediately shut the engine off and studied the problem.
Oil was absolutely pouring out from between the aluminum castings on the engine. It was obvious someone had assembled the engine incorrectly. Oil was leaking from everywhere, and I found a bolt lying next to the engine, it appeared to have had vibrated out from somewhere.
I had remembered reading in the instruction manual about a low oil pressure switch that would automatically shut the engine down if the oil got low, but it appears not to have worked, so I checked the engine oil and found it had only leaked about a quart onto the ground. I wiped everything clean and put another quart of oil in, and I restarted the engine.
I could now clearly see the oil dribbling out in the same place. There was no question this was obviously a defective pressure washer engine.
My hope of doing any sandblast work on that weekend was now gone. We knew we needed to bring the machine back to Miami, and return it to USA Tools, we were very disappointed.
On February 17 2004, we were back in Miami, and I called USA Tools, and we also at the same time, faxed them a list of the problems we had encountered with their pressure washer.
The fellow I spoke to on the phone appeared to be Hispanic with a poor command of the English language. But I did understand from him that USA Tool wanted us to return the machine to them for their evaluation.
The engine was still leaking oil, so we put towels down in the van and we sent the machine back to them, and along with the machine we sent a copy of the list of the problems we had found.
When I called USA Tools to find out about getting another machine, or a refund, I now spoke with a fellow who said his name was Antonio Hernandez.
At the same time as I was speaking with him, USA Tools faxed us 3 pages of their evaluation.
They stated that the pressure washer was ruined by us running it without oil, and he said that the engine was now seized up. This was one of their first of many lies, as I knew the engine ran fine, just leaked oil.
Then to make matters worse, Antonio Hernandez told me there was no guarantee on the machine, and he took a very strong defensive attitude.
I was kind of stunned, and I told Antonio that we weren’t looking to make a problem with him, but we were looking to resolve a problem, as we needed a pressure washer. I told him the machine was obviously defective, and as a customer naturally assumed that as it was a new machine we bought it had a normal warranty.
But it was apparent to me that by Antonio’s tone of voice that he could care less what I thought. I then told Antonio, that it would be easier for him to resolve a $900.00 problem today rather than have a $3000.00 law suit later.
I asked him what he was trying to prove by giving us such a hard time, we had paid him $899.00 for a pressure washer that didn’t work.
Antonio brazenly informed me. “We have had plenty of lawsuits before and we have our attorney ready”. Antonio Hernandez basically told me to get lost.
I couldn’t believe that anyone in a business could talk to a customer like this guy Antonio was doing, I knew that if I ran our business that way we wouldn’t have any customers left.
So now after my conversation with Antonio Hernandez, I had to stop and think.
As everyone employed at USA tools appeared to be Hispanic, I felt that if I sent two of our Hispanic employees over to USA Tool, they could talk to Antonio in Spanish, and perhaps they could resolve the problem. I felt that Hispanics dealing with other Hispanics could get a lot farther than I could as an Anglo.
I sent our shop manager Louis Cantos an Ecuadorian and two of our Cuban shop employee’s, over to USA Tools Company to talk to Antonio Hernandez, and hopefully resolve the problem.
They soon came back with the pressure washer machine in the back of the van. They said Antonio Hernandez told them we had ruined the machine, and he was not going to do anything.
That’s when our shop manager Luis Cantos told me that when he went to the USA Tools company, he immediately recognized the building. He said that he had bought an electric drill there about a year before and the drill didn’t work when he plugged it in.
When he brought the drill back to them, they said it was his fault and would not take the drill back, nor replace it.
Because the electric drill was worth only $38.00, Luis said he decided not to fight with USA Tools over it, and he simply threw the drill away.
Luis said he knew USA Tools were obviously crooks and he would have advised us not to buy anything from them.
I went out to the van to look over the pressure washed that they had brought back.
I could see that it was obvious that USA tools had themselves taken the machine apart and tried to fix the oil leak, and I saw where they had over tightened the engine bolts so much that the engine now wouldn’t turn at all.
As our own business is a rebuilding business, our shop manager Luis Cantos is a master mechanic, and Luis also observed that USA Tools had obviously taken the pressure washing machine engine apart.
By now I was getting pretty pissed off about the whole thing and trying to figure out what our next move should be.
My wife Katherine was also getting pretty mad about the situation as were our employee’s who had gone over to USA Tools, everyone knew USA Tools was lying.
On February 18, 2004 we received a fax from USA Tools refuting the list of problems we had sent them regarding the pressure washer, and they again accused me of running the machine without oil, and burning it out, which was an absolute lie.
They also accused me of anything they could dream up, this guy Hernandez really piled it on, he said that I had threatened them with a lawsuit, which was partially true.
I had said that it would be far better for us to settle a $900.00 problem now rather than letting it escalate into a $3000.00 law suit later.
USA Tools just worded everything I said differently, and made it sound like a threat.
This guy, Antonio Hernandez was quite a character, and it appeared he thought he could just brush us off.
At the time, our company was using an attorney named Lance Joseph, who was doing some bill collection work for us, so on March 1, 2004 Katherine got off a fax to Lance, regarding the problem we were having with USA Tools. She sent him the whole story, including a picture of the pressure washer leaking oil.
On March 5, 2004, after reading our letter, Lance Joseph sent USA Tools a “Notice of “Breach of Implied Warranty”.
Unfortunately our attorney was more of a bill collector than a litigator but his letter was perfect and asked for an amicable resolution to the problem.
Lance informed USA Tools to make restitution, as we were serious about filing a law suit, and he said that USA Tools should govern themselves accordingly.
By now, I had already resigned myself to the fact that I was dealing some pretty crooked people, however I didn’t know how crooked they really were.
On March 9, 2004 we contacted the “Florida Better Business Bureau”, and sent them a copy of the problem as well as a copy of the outrageous denial and accusatory fax from USA Tools that we had received, and the Better Business Bureau assigned it a complaint number 1417766.
We told the Better Business Bureau that we had requested a full refund from USA
The “Better Business Bureau contacted USA Tools twice, and twice, USA Tools refused to respond to the problem. “Citing that the matter was currently under pending litigation, and upon advice of counsel they couldn’t comment, but they asked the Better Business Bureau not to publish any information regarding the matter.
On March 26, 2004, the “Better Business Bureau sent us copies of the ridiculous replies that USA Tools had sent to them.
On March 27, 2004 we received a rather threatening letter from USA Tools.
Antonio Hernandez said that we had threatened him on the phone and in his show room, which of course never happened. I had never ever been to his showroom, and he said, “We had threatened him by giving a statement to the “Better Business Bureau.”
With that, Antonio Hernandez listed a whole bunch of Florida statutes that he said we had broken, and his letter was written like an attorney had written it.
I have to admit that Antonio’s letter sounded professional, it also listed a whole bunch of things he was going to charge us with.
Antonio said that our threats were in violation of Florida statutes 775.082 and 775.083 and .084.
It all sounded pretty impressive, but his English language was horrible, and it was obvious that Antonio Hernandez who spoke poor English had written it all, with the assistance of someone in the legal profession.
On April 1, 2004, The Better Business bureau apologized to us that they were unable to compel anyone to do anything.
Katherine replied to the Better Business Bureau, by sending them a copy of the absolute nutty faxes that we had received from USA Tools.
On April 7, 2004 I sent our attorney, Lance Joseph a copy of the pressure washer operator’s manual that was printed in reverse.
That very day we received from USA Tools, a copy of a fax they had sent to the Better Business Bureau, stating that we were uncooperative.
Our Attorney, Lance Joseph asked me for a deposition, which I gave him before a Notary Public, and he then filed suit against USA Tool for $919.98 for reimbursement, and $750.00 in attorney’s fees and $88.00 in process costs.
On June 6, 2004, Katherine E mailed the Better Business Bureau again, thanking them for trying to resolve our problem with USA Tools. She told them, that as a consumer we were victimized by USA Tool, and that was not to mention having to read the abusive letters and lies sent to us by them.
On June 30, 2004, our attorney Lance Joseph advised us that Antonio Hernandez had appeared in court, and denied any liability. He had said we were the problem, and made no offer to resolve our claim.
Another trial date was set for October 12th, 2004, and our attorney Lance Joseph said that Katherine and I should appear with any of our employees that could testify as to what happened.
On July 12, 2004, USA Tools filed a “Request for Production”. Antonio Hernandez wanted us to supply him with 25 different items. He wanted copies of any pictures we took of the pressure washer, and copies of the copies we made of the reverse printed pressure washer operators manual. He also wanted copies of our complaint to the Better Business Bureau, copies of all company checks and bank statements and on and on. Hernandez even wanted copies of our birth certificates. It was all just an obvious attempt to aggravate us and make us waste a lot of our time to comply.
On July 13, 2004 our attorney filed a “Motion for Protective Order and Sanctions” against USA Tool, to keep them from harassing us with their “Request for Production”, so we didn’t have to reply to their list of off the wall questions.
On October 12 2004, we appeared at the Miami Courthouse with our 3 witnesses who were our employees that knew about everything that had transpired with USA Tool.
We were also instructed by the court to bring the pressure washer, as the judge would like to see it, so we went to the court building, pushing along the pressure washer.
We all felt pretty ridiculous standing in the courthouse line with the pressure washing
Machine leaking oil, but we did it.
Our attorney Lance also came, and after our waiting outside the courtroom for several hours, we were informed that USA Tools had requested a postponement.
On September 13, 2004, we were notified by USA Tools that Antonio Hernandez had now filed a request to depose Katherine and myself to answer a list of over 25 crazy questions, most of which had nothing to do with the pressure washer case.
It was very apparent that Hernandez was trying to drive us crazy, with his amateurish attempts to act as if he were an attorney.
When Katherine and I arrived, with our attorney for the depositions, we found that there was Antonio Hernandez, his wife, and a fellow in a wheelchair, who didn’t appear to speak any English, they said his name was Mr. Rafael Lopez.
We had already learned that Antonio Hernandez’s wife worked for an attorney named Mr. Hoffman, and she was the one advising Antonio Hernandez, on how to write the absolutely crazy legal sounding letters he was sending us.
Sitting in the room, there was also a court reporter there to record our depositions.
Katherine and I answered all Antonio’s questions, many were so off the wall and childish that it was hard for all of us to keep from laughing. We all watched Hernandez trying so hard to act like an attorney. He was such a dope, that it was hard for us to keep from rolling our eyes.
One of Hernandez’s questions that he asked Katherine, was if she could read backwards, referring to the backwards printed instruction manual that came with the pressure washer.
On Dec16, 2004 we received a bill from our attorney Lance Joseph for $1485.00.
There was also a bill for $735.00 in other costs.
On January 3, 2005, USA Tools filed a “Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice”, saying that our attorney had not advised them of a change of dates for the previous depositions.
On January 11, 2005, USA Tool sent a long letter to the Honorable Judge Richard J. Suarez, with 9 paragraphs of all the bad things we supposedly had done to him. Our attorney sent us a copy of the letter.
In the letter to the judge, USA Tools said that he, Hernandez had made two attempts to have depositions from our employee’s. He also said that our attorney had made it impossible for him to do so, and had used profanity.
Hernandez was also mad because our attorney was acting like an attorney for us. His letter to the judge was over 4 pages long.
On Jan 26, 2005, we were notified by the court that our attorney had to file a status report before Judge Edelstein on February 15, 2005, so our attorney Lance Joseph did that.
On February 16, 2005, we were notified that again depositions would be taken by USA Tools.
On February 24, 2005 we were informed that they would depose our shop manager Luis Cantos, also our warehouse manager Emanual Maynard, and our assistant warehouse manager Roni Mejia.
On March 1, 2005, Hernandez asked that Katherine and Howard Yasgar would again give depositions.
On March 2, 2005, USA Tool filed a motion for emergency hearing for “Contempt and Sanctions”.
On March 10, 2005 we received a subpoena to appear for the deposition.
Antonio Hernandez now claimed that our attorney Lance Joseph had been deliberately disruptive and used discriminatory misconduct aimed at ridiculing, embarrassing and mocking Mr. Antonio Hernandez.
He also said that Mr. Howard Yasgar sat in an intimidating manner and stared into Mr. Hernandez’s eyes. I have to admit that was true, I did that.
On March 27, 2005, the “Non Jury” trial was again set for January 23, 2006, before Judge Judith Rubenstein.
On January 23, 2006, the final judgment was in the favor of CME Arma, Katherine and myself Howard Yasgar. USA Tools was to pay all costs and attorney’s fees, and we were to return the pressure washer to USA Tools.
Now our collecting the money from USA Tools was going to be another thing entirely, however we thought the case was over, and regardless of all our cost in time and money we had the satisfaction of beating this crook.
On February 2, 2006, USA Tool appealed the Judges verdict.
On February 16, 2006 we received a fax from USA Tools advising that they had appealed and they sent us a copy of the appeal.
On February 17, 2006, Lance Joseph advised USA Tools that CME Arma would accept $4000.00 as settlement and dismissal of all claims. He gave USA Tools until February 24, 2006 to reply.
Our attorney Lance Joseph then filed with the court another motion for attorney’s fees and costs.
On March 28, 2006, Lance Joseph advised the court that he was willing to wait until
USA Tools was finished appealing the verdict.
On August 17, 2006, Katherine advised Lance Joseph that we still had not received any word from USA Tool, and was it possible for us to bill them $50.00 per month for storing the pressure washer in our warehouse all these months?
On December 21, 2006, Lance Joseph advised us that the court had received a brief on behalf of USA Tools. But this time Hernandez had retained an attorney to do it.
Our attorney Lance, said that the brief was weak and totally contradicted the facts. He said that USA Tools had already had 10 extensions with the court.
On January 3, 2007, Lance Joseph advised us that the appeal of USA Tools would now require us to hire an appellate attorney, and he suggested an attorney named Nancy Wear.
Katherine was really mad now and instructed Lance Joseph to charge USA Tools $100.00 per month storage for every month we had stored the pressure washer in our warehouse.
We forwarded a check for $2000.00 for the services of Nancy Wear for the appeal reply. With the check Katherine advised Lance to “Sock It to USA Tools”.
On January 31, 2007, Lance Joseph sent us a copy of the appeal against USA Tools written by Nancy Wear, and informed us Nancy had also filed a request for attorney’s fees.
On February 27, 2007, Nancy Wear filed another “Objection to any further Brief
On June 27, 2007, a hearing was set that we didn’t need to attend. We were told that we were denied attorney’s fees, but as we prevailed in the suite, we were entitled to costs.
On July 28, 2007, we sent Nancy Wear the appellate attorney, a picture of the pressure washer, as we thought USA Tools was going to pick it up.
On July 31, 2007 our attorney Lance Joseph sent a letter to Richard O’Brien Esq, the attorney for USA Tool, He asked for attorney fees $1455.21.
Our attorney Lance, suggested that perhaps USA Tools was now tired of playing the game, although nothing they did would surprise him. He said that once he was paid he would allow USA tools to collect the bond they had posted to appeal the case.
On September 7, 2007, our appellate attorney Nancy Wear also contacted Richard O’Brien the attorney for USA Tools requesting the judgment of $919.98 plus 23 cents per day in interest, also the court costs of $375.00.
On November 15, 2007, we received a bill from Nancy Wear for 10.4 hours at $250.00 an hour or $2600.00, also a charge of $162.83 in transcript fees.
On December 3, 2007, Nancy Wear, sent us a copy of Case No. 07-406.
“CME Arma Inc, Appellant v USA Tools Inc. Appellee”, her paperwork was about 20 pages thick.
On January 27, 2008 Nancy Wear filed “Objection to third brief extension and a motion to prohibit further participation by appellee, for failure to file a brief”. It appears USA Tools never responded to her Appellate work.
It also appeared that USA Tools had filed a motion with the courts for fees.
Our attorney Nancy Wear wrote a “Motion for appellate fees, and opposition to USA Tools Motion for fees”.
On June 30, 2008, we returned the pressure washer to USA Tools with pictures of the machine and a copy of the Miami “El Nuevo Herald” on top of it to show the date it was returned.
On June 6, 2008, we were advised that Nancy Wear had received a check handed to her for $420.00 by Antonio Hernandez, and the sum of $1,085.58 was to be sent to her from the Court Clerks office which she would send to us.
On July 10, 2008 we received a check from the clerk of courts, for $1085.58.
On July 14, 2008 we received a letter from Nancy Wear. She said she had not heard as yet the results of her fee hearing.
On July 15, 2008 we paid Nancy Wear an additional $5,700.00.
We never added up our total costs of dealing with the pressure washer situation, but as we had purchased it through our corporation, the costs were deductable.
It was also interesting to see how someone can run a company like USA Tools, taking advantage of people, by lying and manipulating the court system.
We thought we would never hear from USA Tools again.
On November 21, 2011, while at my office, I was told there was a process server looking for me, and he handed me a file from Biscayne Bank Vs USA Tools and Antonio Hernandez.
Our companies name was also on it.
It appears that Antonio Hernandez had defrauded Biscayne Bank out of $351,319.96 and they were filing a civil action against him, and why our name was associated with him, I have no idea.
We now had to contact our new attorney Steven Tunstall, who wrote a letter to have our name removed.
Writing the letter cost us another $250.00.
We wonder if we have heard the last of USA Tools.