- The Openbay app allows consumers to get competitive auto repair quotes from several shops before deciding on a service provider.
- The free app also lets consumers check out reviews and ratings from previous Openbay customers before deciding on a repair facility.
- Openbay launched last year in Massachusetts with about 400 shops and has since expanded to 44 states and thousands of service providers.
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — A free app called Openbay allows consumers in need of auto repairs to get competitive quotes from several shops and read reviews from previous customers before deciding on a service provider.
After registering as a member, customers either download the app or go to the Openbay Web site, then input vehicle information and the type of repair needed. There are also provisions for entering preferences, like time frames for repairs, distance willing to travel and need for a loaner car.
Openbay matches the request with multiple repair shops in the selected area that are able to perform the necessary service. The customer can then review the shops' charges and look over reviews and ratings from previous Openbay customers.
After making a selection and booking an appointment, the customer takes the vehicle in for service and pays through Openbay. Afterwards, they have the option of reviewing the shop's performance for the benefit of others.
There is no membership fee or additional charge for using Openbay.
Openbay, founded by veteran entrepreneur Rob Infantino, launched in October 2013 with about 400 shops and 600 customers, primarily in Massachusetts. It has since expanded to 44 states and thousands of service providers and customers.
In addition to the repair shops that have signed on as Openbay providers, Infantino told Edmunds: "We have a database of over 220,000 shops in the U.S., and if a service request is submitted in an underserved area, an e-mail blast will be sent to shops within that area."
Infantino said he got the idea for Openbay when he took his BMW to a dealer for a simple wheel alignment and was shocked to get an estimate for $4,000 worth of repairs they thought the vehicle needed. His response: "I don't think so."
Infantino said he then "called around to various shops looking for estimates for wheel alignments for my specific car. Surprised that I couldn't find an existing service to do just that, I thought, 'There has to be a better way,'" and Openbay was born.
While the concept is a good one, and Openbay seems to be on a growth track, it's not exactly unique. A quick online search turned up such competitors as AutoMD, Fair Mechanics and Repair Jungle, all of which appear to work in a similar manner, although it looks as if Repair Jungle is online only, with no downloadable app.
Edmunds says: Services like Openbay can save consumers the trouble of contacting a number of local providers individually.