Auto Body Shop Scams
Scam #1: Charging for factory parts and then using imitation or used parts. Some shops may convert money for parts by repairing old parts instead of replacing them.
This is one of the biggest rip-offs that has been going on for years. If your shop is charging you for factory OEM parts, be sure that is what they are using. Make sure the shop is not using imitation or used parts and pocketing the difference. Using cheap parts rip you off by not repairing your vehicle to its condition before the accident. Be sure the final bill lists exactly what was done.
Scam #2: Listing parts and procedures on estimates to get paid for them and not putting them on the vehicle in a different manner without your approval.
This happens all the time at unethical shops. When your shop appraiser is inspecting your vehicle, have them show you the damage quotation and explain the parts and procedures that will be used to repair your vehicle. When your vehicle is finished, have the shop representative go over the repair ticket to show you all the repairs and parts that have been used along with any hidden damage that was found. The shops final bill should list every part and procedure you were charged for, make sure you understand what was done.
Scam #3: inflicting more damage on your vehicle to increase the repair costs.
This happens in unethical shops. When a bad shop gets your car they want to inflict damage on parts of your car that they can go back and patch up later without you noticing. Broken headlight reinforcements, bent rails, broken radiators and much more. After they are paid to replace these items they do nothing to fix them or just patch it up, these shops maximize the amount they will be paid and minimize the amount they spend to fix your car.
Scam #4: Writing a low estimate that doesn't reflect the true repairs needed.
Be careful when looking for a shop to do your repair and don’t get pressured to sign any repair order until you have taken the time to investigate the shop. Many shops will write a low estimate on purpose to get work in the door by deceiving people to get the job, they turn in a large repair supplement after the car is stuck in the shop to get more money. These shops don’t really care about anything but money. A good shop will always write an itemized and complete estimate only after careful inspection. Good shops will look carefully at the damage and tell you in advance if disassembly is needed to write an estimate.
Scam #5: Shops claiming “We can bury your deductible”
Some shops use this tactic to prey on unknowing customers to make them think they are going to give them a deal. These shops imply they will overcharge the insurance company for your benefit. Why in the world would you trust this shop not to rip you off also? Your insurance company is smarter than you think when it comes to collision repairs; they handle thousands of claims every year they are not giving up a dime that is not owed to you. The shop will overcharge on the repair, but the person they overcharge will be you with one of the methods I mentioned earlier. Even worse is you gave them the permission to steal. Who will you complain to after you did not pay a $250 deductible but they shortchanged you $2,000 worth of parts? The result of this deal will be felt when you sell the vehicle and everyone looking it over knows it was involved in an accident, your vehicles value is sure to fall more than the $250 you saved. Worse if the repairs start to fall apart before you sell your vehicle you may have to pay someone else to do it all over.