Body Shop Nightmare

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Feb 6, 2010
Central Texas
Having just received the sled back after an 18-day stay and dealing with one-idiot-of-a-general-manager, I thought I'd rant to my fellow BITOG'ers. Despite my skill at avoiding drivers attempting to occupy my space at the same time I was in it, probability finally caught up with me. Just not in a place I ever would have thought: An astronomy observing field at 2am! I'd been helping this guy & his wife with a telescope problem prior to our leaving. Upon arriving at the gate, he stops & so did I. Then next, for some unexplicable reason, he puts his truck in reverse and starts to back-up! Despite my horn-honking, his bumper hits my driver side headlight, bends the hood up and crumples the driver side sheetmetal panel (fender? front qrtr panel?) between my door and the bumper. After a rather lengthy discussion, trading info, numerous apologies from him & his wife, I head home. The next day, Sunday afternoon, after returning from the grocery store, the original starter/solenoid finally goes Tango Uniform. Toes Up. No click. Nothing. Great..... Skipping ahead, for some reason the local starter/alternator shop is unable to obtain all the necessary parts to rebuild my Bosch unit. Puzzled by this, I finally give in and obtain a new/rebuilt/whatever one locally with a lifetime warranty. I asked the guy to test it first. It proceeds to smoke & spark a bit, so I veto it. Unfortunately he doesn't have another, so I have to go somewhere else, in rain coming down so hard it's difficult to see. The plus was I was in my neighbors MB and I'd never driven one before. Most impressive.... I find another, have it tested, no fireworks nor smoking, so off I go to install it. After getting it all back together, the sled comes to life. After weighing my options, various opinions & recommendations, I choose a body shop. They take in the car. The next day the guy who took it in is out and he being the only State Farm rep., chaos ensues. Because it's SF, we must use used parts if they are available (they were), we need to call in a regional inspector/advisor/claims adjuster, SF might total your car due to age & mileage, etc., etc., etc. Pure chaos. Mind you the sled has only been hit once, about 9 years ago. Not my fault. Her insurance paid, put me in a rental and a different shop had it done in about 5 days. Easy peasy. No worries. I went to this shop first, but they were so busy I was told it'd be 10 days or more just to get to it. OK, back to where I was....the following day, the guy I first dealt with is back, writes up an adjustment, apologizes for the previous days chaos and resumes the reins. Says used parts are available locally, and it'll all be done in about four days. I'm in their rental, so we're good. However, my gut is whispering to me that this place may have been a mistake.... SF wants to total the sled as repair estimate is within 60%? of it's value. Having never encountered this before, I ask WHAT?? Turns out I received more $$$ from the insurance co., even after fixing the car, than if they would have just paid to fix it. I don't get that. Further, when I asked "What happens if I'm hit again, and it's not my fault? The car has been totalled once, will you total it again?" Yes. Go figure. Onward through body shop... After nine days, they call and say the sled is ready. Upon inspection, I find a few things not fixed (loose bolt holding the newly painted fender in place, still circled in green, door lock button completely pulled out (it was loose, but now flopping around, (my doors don't automatically lock/unlock with ignition key position like newer vehicles. If the door is locked and you pull the inner door handle, the door it should). I kept the key fob and left them the key. The general manager comes out while I'm looking her over, I point out these issues, he says keep the rental, they'll fix it and it'll be ready tomorrow. Mind you it took me 30 minutes to drive over there in later afternoon traffic, which I rarely go out in, and it's 120° in the Sun while I'm inspecting her. Still, $*&! happens... They call the following day, late in the afternoon, saying the car is ready. I tell them I'll pick it up the following day to avoid the traffic nightmare. When I show up the next day around 3pm, I find even more things wrong: The loose fender bolt is still loose, though the marker has been wiped off, bottom edge of the interior door panel is very loose, trim ring around interior door handle is missing, several dirty finger prints on the vinyl, the front fender panel is sticking outside the vertical plane of the door, the radiator support is still loose, a 90° piece of plastic just above the fan shroud is very loose, I find two loose Torx screws that attach the fan shroud to the radiator support, I find glass fragments and a 8mm bolt sitting just forward of the battery, behind the headlight, white masking tape stuck to the inside of the hood, and both horns appear to not be mine. Plus the front bumper is loose on the drivers side compared to the passengers. WTH? I point this out to the guy who took in my car, as the GM is gone for the day. "You call this ready? I drove over here for this? That's nuts." He starts writing on the windshield in a pink marker. So it's Friday about 5pm by now, I'm soaked from being in the Sun and it's obvious I won't have my car back. I write an email that evening, detailing these issues, my disatification with their shop, communication style and obvious lack of QC. I'm still driving their rental, they haven't been paid a penny and they've now had the sled for 11 days. Well beyond the originally-promised 4. The following Monday a.m. I speak to the GM. He apologized several times, said he'll buy new horns?? and a new trim ring. Says his list when we met the previous Wednesday wasn't followed, etc. I tell him I have to be out of town today and I'll follow up tomorrow, Tuesday. When I speak to him on Tues. afternoon around 3pm, he said they detailed the engine compartment?, obtained a new door handle trim ring, horns and backing clips from the dealer. When I asked for an explanation as to why the fender panel and the radiator support were loose, he said "the old clips were used and they were worn out"! WTH? "So you used old plastic clips and didn't even bother to tighten the two Torx screws. Further, the fender top bolt is still loose. So I'm guessing that 'clip'/insert/ etc. is stripped and not holding. Why didn't you just tack-weld a nut to the backside when the panel was off and be done with it?" Well...we could have done that...yes. He promises 'further detailing' and says the car will be ready tomorrow. I tell the GM over the phone "You have a list of things that need correcting. Don't call me, telling me the car is ready, until you've personally checked those items. Are we clear? Do you understand?". With that, I hang up. It's now obvious this guy's an idiot and NO ONE is doing QC but me. The following day, Wednesday, I receive a call from the GM. The reason the front bumper is loose on the drivers side is because there was a support that was torn that they missed/didn't bother to fix. So they pulled the bumper and fixed it with a plastic welder. "We'll correct this and have your car ready tomorrow afternoon." I counter with "You've said this before. More than once. You've obviously failed to personally check the items in my email. What assurances do I have your going to get it right this time?" This IS the GM after all.... Thurs I receive a msg around 3pm the car is ready. I call back the GM, ask if he's PERSONALLY CHECKED all items on the list sent LAST FRIDAY. "Yes, I have". I ask about the print-out from the alignment and if they have the old parts. He says he'll look and call me right back. By 4:20p, I hadn't heard anything. So I decided to go because I suspected he was still [censored]'ing me, I was STILL going to find something amiss, and that I'd better check TODAY if I wanted my car back TOMORROW for the weekend. I arrived around 5:20p and began my inspection in the late Tx afternoon heat. Sure enough, the top fender bolt is STILL LOOSE, the panel is outside the plane of the door when viewed from behind, the 90° plastic shelf above the radiator fan is still loose, there is some missing paint on the bottom edge of the A-pillar where it meets the body, and the inner door panel is missing a clip near the back edge. When I asked for an explanation, he began his bob & weave act. I explained that a loose bolt is NOT an abstract concept, why was he having trouble with this? The GM of a body shop is clueless about this? And repeatedly lies to his customer(s) that he's personally checked, that the car is ready, when it's not? Clueless, idiot, incompetent moron, screw-up, screw-ball, could-care-less, null & void?, space-between-the-ears full of hardened bondo? Obviously, he's used to others buying his [censored] but I was going to hold his feet to the fire. He said he would take the car inside and have them tighten it, shouldn't more than a few minutes. I could wait inside. I explained "It won't hold tight because the insert is stripped. Further, I'm going with my car." By this time, it's nearing 6p., it's very hot outside, I'm nearly soaked, but determined and persistent. Mind you, they're still paying for the rental car and I haven't paid them a cent. They've now had the car 17 days. I follow my car into the shop. A tech comes over and starts wrenching on it. The bolt just spins....obviously. Turns out they've been using small plastic inserts, that are supposed to fit into a squar hole in the uni-body. Problem is when I was hit, the force popped all five bolts loose and tore the uni-body sheet metal: They forgot to repair the sheetmetal on this one. Again, I ask "Why didn't you tack-weld a nut in there when the fender was off?" "Well...we could have". "That's what it's going to take to do this right, do you understand? You're going to have to take that off and do it right. I'm not paying you a cent until it's as tight and lines up flush like the other side. Period. You continue to waste my time with excuses and shoddy work." I leave at 6:42p, still without the sled, beyond frustrated and angry at this House of Fools and their incompetence. It's been quite awhile since I've experienced this level of incompetence, deceit, deception, manipulation, fraud and abuse from a service. Any service. Then again, I'm used to relying on myself when it comes time to repair something. I wonder how many people this place has ripped off because they don't know any better or even bothered to look? This isn't some hole-in-the-wall either. They have all the right placards, endorsements, etc. Even came recommended from a nearby place that only works on Swedish cars. Perhaps the good body guy(s) have left and what's left are riding on training wheels? I will say the paint guy did a great job matching and painting the hood & fender. No issues there. Friday morning I find out the 'original local owners' have retired! Their names are still on the website though. This place now has three locations and there is a regional manager, so I call him. Unfortunately for me, he's out of town at another location. I explain my predicament, the shoddy work being done, and the complete lack of any attention to detail. I thought they'd want to really fix my car, get paid, stop paying on a rental, move on, get rid of me, and move my file to the archive. Obviously not. So with the RM now involved, he says he'll look into it and will call me back. Soon. Which he does. They've now used a METAL THREADED INSERT, the bolt & panel is tight, in plane with the door and someone else has verified it. I tell him I'm going to be barking in his ear if I get over there for the 4th time and the dam bolt is STILL loose. Further, I expect a discount for the amount of my time that's been wasted from repeatedly showing up at the end of the day, in traffic, to pick up a car, that's STILL not ready. THIS time, on Fri afternoon, it's finally tight, the panel is flush and the panel is secured.....for now. We'll see how long it lasts. They did write down the bill but only about 10%. In addition I wasn't charged at all for the rental car. This place is FUBAR. Evidently their reputation was built on the past, but that's now over. Obviously they're fed mostly by the insurance industry and rely on their own customers doing QC. Those who don't check are at their mercy. Caveat Emptor!
Wow, that is one bad story! The 2 times I have needed bodywork done on the Cruze the shop (one of the larger ones in the area) was decent to work with. Everything went generally smoothly. Hopefully the work was okay by the end, and you can move on with life now!
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Originally Posted By: sleddriver
Then next, for some unexplicable reason, he puts his truck in reverse and starts to back-up! Despite my horn-honking, his bumper hits my driver side headlight, bends the hood up and crumples the driver side sheetmetal panel (fender? front qrtr panel?) between my door and the bumper.
puke .....sorry...I have nightmares about that happening to me.
Thankfully I perform my own bodywork,and will take the check and repair it myself.What bodyshops charge for repairs (mind you,not even including "frame straightening") is ridiculous.And most do a slap dash job to increase their profit dollars,aferall the insurance companies arent paying them the big profit bucks like they used to.
The collision repair industry has a HORRIBLE reputation, just like the $stealerships do! I've dealt with two body shops in my lifetime (both supposedly had decent reputations) and BOTH did shoddy work, when confronted with that fact did not want to remedy it to any reasonable degree of satisfaction and acted as if they were doing me a favor in the process. There is NO doubt that the US auto repair industry in general has a LOT of arrogance, fraud, incompetence, and stupidity surrounding it. I worked in the $tealership and body shops over the years and all I can say is most places were not just "bad" they were downright HORRIBLE, and crooked as well.
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An honest body shop is a fantastic find, and a crooked one is a nightmare. A lot of times a crooked body shop will quote a repair figure and then cut all kinds of corners so they can make bigger profit. Usually the body shop them diverts the customer's rage at the adjuster, and for some reason John Q. Public is easy to fool by body shops; and this is one of the reasons why there are claims adjusters, to stop the worst of the abuses. The better shops are honest, but there are ones out there that for instance will demand that the parts all be new parts rather than used ones, tell the customer that; the adjuster will agree to get the deal settled, and when all is said and done the customer will call the adjuster yelling because all the body panels installed on his car are used parts. That's why adjusters always tell the customer that he and he alone makes the decision as to what body shop to use. There is a body shop in my area that is as honest as the summer day is long, and two of them both as crooked as Madoff and as sleazy as Sandusky. That's the way it goes.
Keep up the good fight. It's hard when you're the only sane one somewhere, from the outside looking in. Like "Grimey" Grimes.... laugh
wow... one of my kids went through something like that. Then after he got the car back, he was making return trips because quirks kept popping up (power window stopped working, door-ajar on & off while driving, alarm system going haywire, power lock stopped working, slamming door to get fully closed etc.). He made several trips every time something new or repeated popped up). It got to be every time (about weekly) he arrives because of an issue, he could see the manager through the window when he was parking, but the manager was nowhere to be found by the time he walked in. The manager was not only getting nervous seeing a repeated return customer, he got to hiding when that customer returned and the counter guy/gal gave stories how the manager was out to lunch, working another shop for the day, late for work or left earlier. Probably took about 10 return trips but looks like everything been fine for awhile now. A bunch of [censored], but my son said he was going to visit weekly or more often until everything was right.
Originally Posted By: Cristobal
A lot of times a crooked body shop will quote a repair figure and then cut all kinds of corners so they can make bigger profit.
I know someone who used to own a body shop and they showed me a few things like that they routinely did. Last time I used a body shop, I had to inspect it 4 times before they got everything right. They also mentioned using a trainee on my car. I bet if I had a more expensive car I would have gotten better treatment.
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An addendum as I ran out of time: 1. When I went back to pick up the car for the last time, I noticed a set of dirty, black fingerprints on the leather drivers seat. I pointed this out to the GM standing there. Further evidence nobody does a final look for things like this. 2. When questioned as to why a metal threaded insert was NOT used in the first place, he bob'd & weaved. So I pressed further "I'll bet it's because it cost more and takes more time to install." He sheepishly admitted it so. More of my time & gas wasted making unnecessary trips, more of their time & money paying for the rental & multiple do overs. All over a part that's a buck or two more. Ridiculous. So much for 'quality' work. Do it as cheaply as possible. Period.
Yeah, but they still come out ahead because for every customer like you, they get probably 10 or more, that just get in the car and drive without checking anything. People simply don't want to be bothered with cars as long as the wheels keep on turning. Shops everywhere take full advantage of this attitude and most of the time get away with very shady work and a very fat paycheck.
I was t-boned in the rear quarter panel of a 91' Eclipse years ago, dealer made the repairs - Lincoln Merc. was doing the body work for this particular Mitsu. dealer. Got the call it was ready: Still had bent rear axle beam (looked like a v), was missing the wheel cover from left rear wheel, it smelled like gas in the cabin when driving and the paint didn't match perfectly. After some back and forth, they replaced the rear axle beam and found a wheel cover. They never repainted and failed to take care of fuel smell, they could not smell it. Sold it about a year after repair, was never the same. So I can relate to some degree. Great rant by the way.
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sleddriver did two things very right-- He carefully inspected the job. YOU GET WHAT YOU INSPECT, NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT. And he did not accept the shoddy job. He continued to demand that they get the job done more or less right, and he worked his way up the corporate ladder.
I have had similar experiences with [censored] body shops, luckily I managed to find one that for now is pretty decent.
Reminds me of the place that repainted my hood and roof, they proceeded to break off most of the small plastic clips that fastened the rubber trim on the roof used putty to put them back, painted around the hood mounted windshield squirt nozzles! LOL and the paint was supposedly a two stage clear and base coat job. The job has numerous lines in it in the primer (brushed it on???) and debris in the painted surface as well. Then "someone" tried to compound the hood and scratched the [censored] out of the paint. What a forking joke. A shop that was recommended by my independent mechanic. Never again. I told them what a [censored] job they did. To the guy that posted that the customer should have to stand over these crooks and watch their every step because you cannot trust one [censored] thing they do. You get what you inspect, not what you EXPECT. Well that is probably true but when consumers call the industry a bunch of scoundrels and crooks they ought not to cry and whine about it either.
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