SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - You've probably seen pedicabs on your local downtown street. Some people use them to get around on their own, like the man you're about to meet.
Stan Haley was hoping a motorized three-wheeler from a company called Ped-E-Cab Inc. would give him independence. In our investigation, we found major problems with the one he bought and a lack of oversight on safety for these types of rigs on our roadways.
Haley has Parkinson's Disease. Earlier this year, he had to give up driving and sell his car.
"I like to do things my way, on my time schedule," said Haley as he sat in his Santa Barbara apartment with a group of friends.
He took $2,400 from the sale of his car and bought the electric three-wheeler to get around town. Almost immediately, Haley noticed the bolts and screws started falling off and the brakes never worked well. Three months after he bought it, the entire front wheel fell off.
"It went sideways. It was with enough force that it bent the forks out of place." said Haley.
Luckily, he was not hurt. He immediately called Gina Garcia, the owner of Ped-E-Cab Inc, the company that sold him the three-wheeler. He told NewsChannel 3 that Garcia has refused to repair it, refused to refund his money and now refuses to even return his calls.
"It's the most frustrated I've ever been probably, yes," said Haley holding back tears.
The broken down Pedecab just sits outside his apartment now, yet another reminder of his lost independence.
With no where else to turn, he called the NewsChannel 3 Tipline. We tried calling Garcia, but phone call after phone call, at least six in all, went unanswered. I checked out the company and found other complaints online.
Garcia imports these pedecabs from China and sells them for at least $2,000 less than American-made pedecabs.
"You can see that bolt, looks like it's working its way outta there. Some on this side too." said Vincent Posner as he inspected Haley's broken down pedecab. Posner is a mechanical engineer with almost nine years experience. He said the metal is so poorly made, he wouldn't use it to support the weight of a child.
"I would definitely say the brakes are not safe enough based on that material that was used there. you can see the pot metal has broken off," said Posner as he pointed to the front wheel.
How does something, that appears to be so dangerous, make it onto our roads?
NewsChannel 3 called the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looking for answers. They didn't seem to know anything about these imported Chinese-made pedecabs. When we asked which agency would regulate or inspect the pedecabs for safety, there was a lot of finger pointing, but no answers.
Since Garcia didn't return our calls, we drove to the Reseda address for Ped-E-Cab Inc. It's the same address that appears on Haley's receipt. We found an empty, rundown building that at one point in time rented out post office boxes.
After months of not answering my calls, Garcia finally called me back just hours before our story aired late Thursday afternoon. She claims her business is shutdown.
But, we discovered the website is still up and the company's phone, with a greeting is still connected.
Garcia also says Stan Halley hit something with the pedecab and that's why it's broken. Haley stands-by his account and said the front wheel just fell off. He wants other people to know that even if he doesn't get his money back from Garcia, he wants to warn others about Ped-E-Cab Inc.