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Auto body shops...

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Brad Johnson, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I like cars. Body shops not so much. With one exception I've had nothing but drama with every one I've ever dealt with since the 1980's. As such this was typical...

    I had an accident last week with my 99 Miata. Rear tire blew at highway speed on interstate 270, rear locked up and went into a skid. I managed to keep the car from going back into the oncoming traffic and the front end scraped the concrete barrier. Could've been alot worse.

    So on Tuesday I go to a bodyshop certified by my insurance company. I explain in plain English what I'm planning on doing... getting estimates for the insurance part of the damage and a separate estimate for painting the rest of the car. The idea being if I find an estimate that works for the non-insurance part I'll get that shop to do both. After looking at the car outside the manager suggests I bring it back on Thursday and they can put it up so they can look under the car to do a more thorough estimate. He did not seem confused about what I was trying to do... get estimates from shops in order to figure out where I'll get the work done. He said he'd email both estimates. I signed a form which I was told I needed to do in order to bring the car inside to do the estimate.

    This morning I get both estimates. $3800 for the insurance part and $4600 to paint the rest of the car. A 1999 Miata, book value $6600. I called them up, the manager wasn't there. I thanked the person I talked to for the estimate and asked when I could get the car, I wanted to take it to the next shop for an estimate. I was told to hang on and when he came back to the phone he told me they had already started the work and that the car was in the paint shop.


    I told him that the car was just in for estimates and that I hadn't told them to proceed with any work, why would I need estimates that I didn't need to approve? He said the manager was at the dentist and he'd be back in an hour or so and I could talk to him. At this point I had not seen my car.

    I immediately drove over to the shop. The manager wasn't there as far as I could tell and the owner, who had gotten me to sign the form on Tuesday came out. She didn't know anything about the conversations I had with the manager and said I had authorized them to go ahead and do the work by signing the form. I explained my conversation with the manager again, that I clearly intended to get multiple estimates from more than one shop and she suggested I talk to him when he got back.

    I get a call from the manager about an hour later. I suggest that instead of going over this on the phone I stop by again. He agreed. When I got to the shop, he takes me into the bay and I see that he's removed all bodywork on the front end of the car except for the hood. Also removed the passenger side skirt, which was not the side that was damaged. We go round and round about what was expected, he says he can drop $1,000 off the remaining work that I'd be paying for, I told him that even at that price it exceeded what the other shops were going to charge for painting the entire car. It ended up with me asking for a price for putting my car back together. He said he'd have that on Monday. At no time did I raise my voice or appear upset. I know that never helps.

    I came home and called my insurance company. They called the shop and after a lengthy conversation with the manager call me back. First question, did I sign anything. I tell them yes, what I was told I needed to sign for them to bring the car in the shop to do the estimate, not do the work without knowing what the estimates would be. The manager said he had already ordered parts and started the work and gave me three options: pay to put the car back together and a possible restocking fee for the parts ordered, have them do the bodywork but not the paintwork and last, do the insurance work only as estimated. I was told I needed to get back in touch with the manager to let him know what I wanted done.

    I called the manager and told him to go ahead with getting me an estimate for reassemby on Monday. This IMO was a very simple transaction and he tried to screw me into getting the work done... and he still might get away with it.
  2. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Sorry Brad. I hope your car gets fixed properly.

  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Never a big fan of them either. When I had my El Camino I was T-boned by a guy who fell asleep behind the wheel of an F-350, run a stop light and get me in the front quarter panel and driver side door.

    Once we got everyone on the same page with insurance, I found two auto-body shops who wouldn't touch it because they couldn't get the body panels anymore for the door. The damage to the door wasn't bad at all, and the quarter panel could have been repaired as well. Two shops didn't want to touch it because they couldn't replace the panels.

    I found a third shop who would replace them for a decent price, but was having difficulty with the paint selection. Once they got the parts they realized they ordered the rear quarter panel instead of the front. At this point, I decided not to have my car fixed and drove it severely dented for the next year of my life.

    Auto body shops, in my experience, would rather replace parts than repair. I guess they get a better markup on parts than labor. But starting on your car without consent, that's just super shady.
  4. did you read the form before you signed it?...i can't believe they did this to you without authorization. surely the form said what they were authorized to do.

    but did they?...i am still unclear about what the form he signed said

  5. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    If you sign an authorization form for working on a car after being told it's an authorization to write up a quote, that's even shadier to me.
  6. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    My mechanic has a standard form for any repair work. You write down the problem(s), then there's a box to check if you want an estimate before any work is done. It's been so long since I've gone to anyone else, but I wouldn't be surprised if other shops' forms were more confusing (on purpose).
  7. may be...and i have no love for body shops...but that's why you read things before you sign them.

    maybe the manager did know it was just for an estimate, but by the time it got back to the shop, the guys just saw the authorization and began work...don't know, and i'm not defending the shop...but the OP should have read it first and if it said something that he did not authorize, should have refused to sign it...just sayin'

  8. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Im not, however, saying that the OP did not read the form he signed.

    Sorry to hear about that Brad. Hope everything turns out for the better.

    That sounds like something that very likely could have happened.
  9. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I feel your pain Brad and have been there. The shop is unscrupulous and in the end will probably not even do the work correctly. I wish you luck though.
  10. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Check the laws in your state.
    That would never fly where I live. I own a repair shop.
    You signed for a estimate, not a repair without a estimate.
    I know in my state I would loose in small claims court if a customer wanted to take me over something like that.

    I have had mechanics start a jobs before I got the okay from the customer.
    A couple of times the customer did not want to do the work and I had to put everything back the way is was.

    Tell him to put it back together as it was for no cost to you or you will take him to court.
    If he refuses, pay him to put it back as it was and then take him to court. You will win.
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    That is the plan. I'll pay whatever they charge me to put the car back together and go from there. And I'll be very pleasant about it.

    I did read the agreement and I was told I needed to sign it for them to bring the car in to do the estimate. So I didn't have an issue signing it. I've never had anyone I requested an estimate from just go ahead and alledgedly order parts and start the work. What did I need the estimate for?

    The estimate box was checked. I told them I was getting estimates elsewhere afterwards. No one seemed confused.

    The fun part was when the guy initially told me today that car I'd just dropped off the evening before was in the paint shop. Despite the fact that they'd supposedly just ordered the parts and hadn't received them. That's fast work.

    He had walked into the shop to check! It was a blatant lie.

    My car will get fixed somewhere eventually. I'm not mad just venting about some fairly lame business behavior. Figured someone could relate to that.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Yep. I already know I can't trust them.

    They made a big deal about not being able to find the small OEM airdam on the front of the car. I knew mine only had a small crack on the end which appeared to be easily repairable. I was told they found one today before I stopped by. When I went back in they had mine sanded down... it didn't need to be replaced. He told me he decided to repair mine because the other one cost so much.
  13. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    You're definitely going to want to make it clear that you're watching their every step.

    I really appreciate HDracer's comments above.
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Me too.
  15. ^^This.
  16. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Hoping you have a copy of what you signed. It would be nice to have the ability to call a lawyer friend on your cell from the body shop when you go to pick up your re-assembled vehicle and discuss your "options".

    Similar thing happened to me WAAAY back when I was in college. Took my car for one of those "free" transmission oil changes and check ups. They told me my transmission oil had metal chips in it and it would need to be overhauled. I said no...poor college student.....no money. They said, "your choice, but it's gonna start slipping in a couple weeks, then it'll need replacement, which will cost more than an overhaul". Surprise, surprise when it started slipping. Took it back and gave them an authorization to apply for financing. They called me later that day to tell me the finance was declined (poor college student) but the car was repaired and would cost me $600 (this was in the '80s....may as well have been $6,000).

    Called a lawyer friend of mine. He said "priority one is get your car off their property. I can't advise you to steal it, but....it would be easier for you if they sue you to get paid instead of you sueing them to get your money back". Long story short, I jumped in the car, drove it off their lot, parked in front and let them call the police. They sued me, I won.

    The irony of the situation.....I graduated college a couple years later and became..........

    A transmission engineer! And eventually responsible for the entire engine and transmission service engineering and service manual authoring group at GM ('97-02). In other words...my team developed all the diagnostic and repair procedures for all GM transmissions.

    Good luck, Brad
  17. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    A critical customer may not like the job a tin-knocker does re-shaping a fender or panel. Replacement parts are cheaper; just slap it on & repaint it than all those hours bangin' around on stressed metal. Plus, body shops mostly warranty parts & not necessarily labor.
  18. billjr


    Jul 25, 2006
    Darlington, SC
    25% markup on parts, new and used.

    No markup on labor.
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Just got a call from my insurance company. The body shop wants $600 for teardown and partial repair. When I asked how they could do a repair before giving me the requested estimates they said they didn't know and would need to check with their liability department. I rehashed what I'd already told them, they said they already had that info in the file. I asked why didn't they check with liability before calling me and saying we owed for an unauthorized repair?

    The answer was they didn't know why. So I mentioned that State Farm, a company that had been fine in the past, had dropped the ball on my last claim , causing me to have to pay my deductible after being rear ended. That I'm watching this one closely. Supposed to hear back in an hour.
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    So... State Farm is going to pay the $600 to put my car back together and pay me the remainder of the estimated cost of repair. Looks like I'll be going to court and finding new insurance. I'll follow up if anything happens.

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