Let’s face it. We all hate visits to the body shop. There boring, smelly (in a high kind of way) and you always seem to meet the dullest of people there who seem to have the life sucked from them. Sometimes we have no choice…
The Devil Is In The Details
A general rule of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
One such instance where this rule is in play is when the body shop will claim to be able to help you save a stack of money by ‘saving the deductible’ from your insurance claim.
What this actually means is that the shop is going to scam the insurance company by not collecting the deductible payment.
You might probably be thinking, ‘Wait, but this scam is just between the shop and the insurance company. I walk away with a bit of cash saved and am probably in the clear. Isn’t that awesome?’
Thats where you’re wrong. What you don’t see about the scam is that the shop is actually intending to shortcut a lot of the necessary repair work for your vehicle, or even overcharge you for something else to balance out those waived ‘deductible’ charges.
In other words, you’re getting screwed over. Trust me!
If you’re not careful, you’re letting the shop get away with low quality body work that do not meet industry standards and may even be dangerous.
The worst part? You can easily counter this if you just open your eyes and pay closer attention to the repair work they’re actually doing!
When i say ‘the devil is in the detail’, i really mean it.
For example, to ensure they’ve properly carried out the repairs, you want to make sure that the lines and panel gaps of your car are both flush and have the same sized gaps.
Simply crouch down until you’re at eye level with the body of the car. Examine the lines, making sure there even, straight and flush throughout the edges of the panel. You’ll easily be able to spot a low quality repair done if these gaps do not have an even width from top to bottom, showing that they’ve not been aligned properly, or worse still used a shite copy panel, which doesn’t line up, period.
Many people will completely skip over these subtle details, which is why they probably don’t get their money’s worth when it comes to body repairs.
Do not be one of those people.
As soon as you hear the words ‘Save The Deductible’, be very cautious of the shop you’re working with, or better still walk out whilst throwing the odd insult at them.
Quality Is Key
This is a classic one, but nonetheless will sting just as bad if you are not cautious. Some bodyshop owners might try to earn a quick quid by charging you for new original (OEM) body panels, when they’ve actually used aftermarket parts or in some cases, hammered out the original part from your car and poly-filla’d it up. They will go out of their way to repair your original part, install it back in the car but charge you for the new part instead.
Always remember: quality is key.
For example, instead of turning a blind eye towards the replacement parts your body shop uses, take the time to make sure that quality OEM panels are used, and not cheap fibreglass alternatives from China.
Do not sit by wary as they pull an invisible veil in-front of your eyes. Ask for specifics about the parts that are being installed. Ask to see any old body parts or review the original quote and request documentation of the parts the body shop had used for the repair.
Don’t let them corner you into giving up unnecessary money. Instead, corner them by beating them at their own game. It is required by law to disclose in their estimates that they intend to use non-OEM parts, so by asking them, you’ve given them no other option but to cooperate and play the hand that you’ve dealt them.
Know Your Vehicle, Know Your Estimates
Let me ask you a question: if you don’t understand the work that is being done on your car in the first place, what’s preventing the shop from pulling off unnecessary work on your car that bears no relevance to the body repair, just to earn a few bucks?
That’s exactly how plenty of unscrupulous body shop owners charge a hefty price tag for the repair of your car, simply because you didn’t run through and understand your estimates.
The next time your car gets into an accident, understand beforehand just how much it would take at a bare minimum to repair the damaged parts. This initial diagnosis is important, as many shops will make use of the driver’s ignorance on his own car to earn undeserving money.
To illustrate my point, let’s say your ball joints are damaged by the crash. This should be an inexpensive and fairly easy repair, if you knew that. But if you just walked-in clueless about the state of your car, it does not take much for them to ‘sell’ (literally) you on the idea that you need to pay hundreds on other irrelevant work to get your car fix when it should only cost you at most a tenner or so.
Once the body repair is finished, run through each line of their quote meticulously, understanding every item on it and comparing it to the original amount you’ve initially totaled before.
If there’s a huge discrepancy in the price estimates, you know you’ve caught a dishonest body repair shop red-handed.
To sum up, there are a bunch of invisible games being played around you that you probably didn’t even know about. If you don’t pay close attention, you run the risk of getting bent over without the lubricant, right under your nose. Get acquainted with these rules, and learn to play safe 😉