Edmunds.com Advises Car Owners How to Avoid Scams in "Confessions from the Auto Body Shop."

Edmunds.com Advises Car Owners How to Avoid Scams in "Confessions from the Auto Body Shop."


Edmunds.com Advises Car Owners How to Avoid Scams in "Confessions from the Auto Body Shop."

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — April 27, 2011 — Getting a fair deal on auto body work starts with choosing the right shop, according to the latest installment in Edmunds.com's "Confessions Series" titled "Confessions from the Auto Body Shop."

"Of every ten body shops, three of them are unethical and five of them do mediocre work at best," said "Neal," one of three anonymous auto body business veterans who agreed to give Edmunds.com an insider's look at some of the shady practices carried out across the industry.

According to the insiders, many auto body shops will engage in dishonest behavior like adding unnecessary steps in the repairs process and charging for old parts as if they were new. Some body shops, they say, will even work with insurance companies to cut corners in order to minimize costs before adding "back charges" to areas not covered by insurance.

To make sure customers are not getting ripped off on their auto body repairs, Edmunds.com advises the following steps:

  1. Choose the right body shop. Look for a second-generation business or family-owned shop. Word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family carry the most weight. Research the shop to make sure it has a track record of dealing fairly and honestly with its customers.
  2. Get an estimate breakdown. Each line of an estimate represents one step in the repair process, which in turn constitutes another charge. Without understanding the steps, the estimate won't make any sense. Do business with a shop that listens patiently and replies with reasonable answers to any questions you may have.
  3. Turn down the "save the deductible" come-on. Some shops may offer to effectively scam the insurance company by not collecting the deductible payment. This is a sign that the shop is either not performing necessary work or overcharging for something to compensate for the waived deductible.
  4. Ask about the parts. Get the body shop to define the parts it intends to use. Will it use OEM parts? Aftermarket? New or used? Or will the parts be repaired and reused? Your charges should reflect the answers to these questions.
  5. Don't get pushed to "preferred" shops. Insurance companies paying for repairs will often steer clients to a "preferred" list of body shops that will gladly accept the stream of steady work in exchange for cutting corners and costs. For this reason, most state laws allow consumers to choose their own auto body shops when an insurance company is paying for the repair.
  6. Be your own advocate. Insurance companies try to cut cost to the bone while still retaining policy holders. And even the most ethical body shops still need to make a profit. Balance the input from both sides as you choose the best shop to protect the value of your car while remaining cautious of overcharging.

After the job is complete, consumers are urged to check the quality of the finished work as closely as possible. Edmunds.com offers a guide to what to look for at http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/how-to-tell-if-your-body-shop-did-the-job-correctly.html.

For more details on how consumers can avoid being ripped off in their auto body repairs, please visit "Confessions from the Body Shop" at http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/confessions-from-the-auto-body-shop.html.

Edmunds.com frequently taps insider knowledge to protect automotive consumers against a wide range of automotive scams, from car thieves to shady rental car agencies. See Edmunds.com's entire "Confessions Series" at http://www.edmunds.com/confessions.html.

About Edmunds (http://www.edmunds.com/help/about/index.html)

Edmunds publishes Web sites that empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site and hosts the most established automotive community online. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.edmunds.com, makes car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and otherwise on the go. InsideLine.com is the most-read automotive enthusiast Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.insideline.com, features the wireless Web's highest quality car photos and videos. AutoObserver.com provides insightful automotive industry commentary and analysis. Edmunds is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/edmunds.

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