Small Claims Case?

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My vehicles (2) sustained some hail damage on 3/31.  I took my vehicle in for an estimate to a local shop found through State Farm's website.  My intent was to review their estimate, have insurance pay out, then pocket **some** of the funds & definitely have them fix one unsightly dent, maybe more.  I dropped my car off, then received a call saying that they needed me to sign an authorization form for them to do the estimate.  I told them ok, and requested that they email the form to me.  They did.  I reviewed the form, and responded "Shouldn't I receive an estimate before I sign something that says I agree to repairs related to the estimate?" as the forms were clearly authorizations to do work, not just to obtain an estimate.  The response I received was: "THESE FORMS ARE JUST CONSENT TO DO THE ESTIMATE NOT ANYTHING FURTHER. WE CAN NOT LOOK AT THE VEHICLE WITHOUT IT."  This is where I messed up, I signed the form and send it back to them with the message:  "The wording definitely says that it authorizes you to do repairs according to the estimate, but I have signed & attached the form since you've assured me it is only for the estimate.  I don't mean to be difficult, I just want to be clear that I want the estimate before approving any repairs."

I received an estimate later that afternoon, but didn't review until the following morning.  I emailed the following morning asking what the estimated completion date would be if I authorized the work -- no response.  The next day I emailed "what is the process from here?" -- no response.  The next day I called to inquire about the process/completion date, etc - SURPRISE--they had completed all repairs as stated in the estimate!!  I spoke to a manager who told me that he had the authorization form and knew nothing of the email exchange in which I clearly stated that I did not want repairs started without first reviewing the estimate.  We were at a stalemate as to how to handle it, but he recognized that I had been misled.  I suggested that if they could repair 2 small dents on another vehicle I own (just bought this vehicle sometime after the storm, so not insurance covered hail dents) I would call it even as that's what I had intended to do with whatever insurance $ I ended up keeping .  I also agreed that I would have a second vehicle that also sustained hail damage in the storm repaired at their shop, with no intent of holding back any insurance $.  He agreed in principal, but said he had to get his manager's approval on Monday.  

On Monday morning, he didn't call.  I went to the shop around lunch time & picked up the car, but he was out to lunch.  I emailed him Monday evening after hours asking about our proposed arrangement.  No response on Tuesday, so I again called and was told that he was with a customer, but that he would call me back before he leaves for the day--no call.  On Tuesday night, I emailed him and told him that I couldn't help but feel he's avoiding me and that I need to know something from him one way or another so that I could proceed with getting my 2nd insured hail damaged vehicle repaired elsewhere.  I also threw in the cliche "I will talk to my attorney" about how to handle the work previously done without my consent if I didn't hear from him on Wednesday (that's today).  So far no response.  The repairs to the 1st car totaled ~ $1,200, so we're not talking big bucks.  Wondering how the FWF thinks I should proceed from here.  Even if it's not worth my time, I'm pissed off enough to be willing to waste my time if I could recover anything from them.

ETA:  I'm in Virginia if that matters.

Please stay on topic, I know that some of you wouldn't have filed these claims for fear of increased rates, etc, that's irrelevant.  

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Make sure to write a negative Yelp review on this place, so you can warn others about the shady/unethical practices.

ArmchairArchitect (Apr. 27, 2017 @ 10:41a) |

It may trickle down to them, but if their management chain (or corporate owner) gets wind of it, they may have a complet... (more)

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I don't think you should consider this petty. Sure, people sometimes write poor reviews to hurt the company. However, of... (more)

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Have you talked to State Farm claims dept?  Did you open a claim before you took the vehicle for an estimate?  I have never signed anything just to get an estimate and if any shop makes me sign such forms won't get my business. 

raringvt said:    I signed the form and send it back to them with the message:  "The wording definitely says that it authorizes you to do repairs according to the estimate, but I have signed & attached the form since you've assured me it is only for the estimate.  I don't mean to be difficult, I just want to be clear that I want the estimate before approving any repairs."
Looks like you signed the form and then wrote disagreement in the email. 

Here is what happened... they print the auth, go to work and are done. This one will be tough to fight. You essentially signed a contract and then tried to amend it on a separate document. 

I am curious as to what others will recommend since you authorized them to do the work.

I won't have signed the forms that clearly didn't meet my expectation of an estimate only. If I did sign, I would have marked up the agreement so it would at least have been clear that you wanted just the estimate without the supporting email which was "lost" in this case.

tennis8363 said:   
raringvt said:    I signed the form and send it back to them with the message:  "The wording definitely says that it authorizes you to do repairs according to the estimate, but I have signed & attached the form since you've assured me it is only for the estimate.  I don't mean to be difficult, I just want to be clear that I want the estimate before approving any repairs."
Looks like you signed the form and then wrote disagreement in the email. 

Here is what happened... they print the auth, go to work and are done. This one will be tough to fight. You essentially signed a contract and then tried to amend it on a separate document. 

  
If they said it was a requirement in order to do an estimate and that it's only for an estimate... didn't they themselves amend their own document to a certain extent?

justignoredem said:   If they said it was a requirement in order to do an estimate and that it's only for an estimate... didn't they themselves amend their own document to a certain extent?
 

  Exactly. Show them their original email response (in all CAPS) that said they it was only for doing an estimate.

Other than maybe to get a copy of a final invoice or something like that, I can't imagine dealing with a Body Shop by email.

I think I would just show up with the other car.  See him in person and say, "Are we going to be able to work this out like you said?"  If he agrees, get him to write up a no cost work order.  If he doesn't, move on.

justignoredem said:   
tennis8363 said:   
raringvt said:    I signed the form and send it back to them with the message:  "The wording definitely says that it authorizes you to do repairs according to the estimate, but I have signed & attached the form since you've assured me it is only for the estimate.  I don't mean to be difficult, I just want to be clear that I want the estimate before approving any repairs."
Looks like you signed the form and then wrote disagreement in the email. 

Here is what happened... they print the auth, go to work and are done. This one will be tough to fight. You essentially signed a contract and then tried to amend it on a separate document. 

  
If they said it was a requirement in order to do an estimate and that it's only for an estimate... didn't they themselves amend their own document to a certain extent?

  Yes, in theory, but it is simply a "he said/she said" case at that point with the only real proof being an executed agreement for work. 

dcwilbur said:   I think I would just show up with the other car.  See him in person and say, "Are we going to be able to work this out like you said?"  If he agrees, get him to write up a no cost work order.  If he doesn't, move on.
Even after he has blatantly ignored all other contact attempts?  

raringvt said:   
dcwilbur said:   I think I would just show up with the other car.  See him in person and say, "Are we going to be able to work this out like you said?"  If he agrees, get him to write up a no cost work order.  If he doesn't, move on.
Even after he has blatantly ignored all other contact attempts?  

As I said, I couldn't imagine conducting business like this by email or phone anyway, but I'm more of a handshake deal kind of guy.  Yes, I would get in the car and show up in person.  

My work keeps me pretty busy during business hours. As I said, I did go in person, but my guy was at lunch (I did speak to the person that told me "just an estimate" who didn't even offer an apology), so I've attempted to contact him via channels that he had previously responded to. That's just how things are done these days.  I suppose it's personal preference.

If you pocketed part of the money rather than getting a complete repair, I doubt your insurer would allow you to keep comprehensive coverage. I doubt a judge would award you anything as you seem to be whole already and on the surface your plan seems to be a bit of a scheme.
I would not have another car repaired there as there is now bad blood between you and this place. This seems like more of a lesson learned than anything.

It's supposed to be up to the insured what they choose to do with insurance money. With hail damage, if you don't repair it, the insurer will deduct the amount of foregone repairs against any future hail damage claims. Absolutely nothing shady about my plan.

I certainly would not take a second vehicle to them. Who knows what they would do to it?!

I think you should inform State Farm of the issue through their proper channels. If this shop is listed on the insurer's website, then they in essence are endorsed by State Farm and bring in a lot of extra work due to being on the list. That carries a lot of weight with me. Of course, I read other reviews but I'd likely only use a place on State Farm's list.

Did you sign any paperwork on picking up your car? I would hope not! If you didn't and if you aren't 100% satisfied with the repair, let State Farm know and let them know you aren't comfortable returning to the same shop. I don't have any idea how they'll respond but if they withhold payment to the first shop, they may be open to paying a second shop for making the repair proper.

I agree that I don't have much of a legal leg to stand on here, and even if I did, I've already told them that I would accept then taking out 2 dents in another vehicle (approx value $200), so I've demonstrated a low damage value to the point that it's not worth small claims court. That said, I'm very irritated at the people at that shop that mishandled this start to finish (except for quality and speed of their work if I'm being honest). I accept it's my own damn fault signing something I knew didn't match my intent. How best to get some level of justice against these assholes?

1) Seek out state agencies and consumer advocacy groups to whom complaints can be lodged.

2) notify state farm of the incident--this is a preferred provider of state farm.

3) write a letter or two to the corporate office of the Body Shop, they're affiliated with a huge regional dealership. Oddly, their dealership network is where the car was purchased and has always been serviced--corporate will not be happy to lose a decent customer.

4) I'm not petty enough for slamming them in online reviews.

Anything else you can suggest?

So now they've gone from not replying to your email to being assholes?

You've admitted that they do good work, and that you bear some responsibility for signing the work order.  I'm really at a loss as to what the beef is all about.  Life is full of little challenges like this. 

raringvt said:   I agree that I don't have much of a legal leg to stand on here, and even if I did, I've already told them that I would accept then taking out 2 dents in another vehicle (approx value $200), so I've demonstrated a low damage value to the point that it's not worth small claims court. That said, I'm very irritated at the people at that shop that mishandled this start to finish (except for quality and speed of their work if I'm being honest). I accept it's my own damn fault signing something I knew didn't match my intent. How best to get some level of justice against these assholes?

1) Seek out state agencies and consumer advocacy groups to whom complaints can be lodged.

2) notify state farm of the incident--this is a preferred provider of state farm.

3) write a letter or two to the corporate office of the Body Shop, they're affiliated with a huge regional dealership. Oddly, their dealership network is where the car was purchased and has always been serviced--corporate will not be happy to lose a decent customer.

4) I'm not petty enough for slamming them in online reviews.

Anything else you can suggest?

  A state insurance regulator may be interested (no idea if this is within their purview though), but a general consumer affairs government agency probably wouldn't care that much. That may help you reach a resolution. If the huge regional dealership cares about their BBB rating, you could try submitting a complaint through the BBB.

If your goal is to help someone else avoid this situation, I'd say (4). I have to imagine at this point that your goal is to help others and/or cause them a little pain (nothing wrong with that if what they did was wrong - but I don't really understand it based on your post). Number 4 is probably the best option for achieving either of those results so not sure why you're against it.

dcwilbur said:   So now they've gone from not replying to your email to being assholes?

You've admitted that they do good work, and that you bear some responsibility for signing the work order.  I'm really at a loss as to what the beef is all about.  Life is full of little challenges like this. 

In addition to signing the authorization only after being assured that it was only to perform an estimate, then finding that all work was completed, my beef is that when I spoke to the manager after finding that they had performed work, he agreed that I had been misled, claimed to feel badly about it and seemed agreeable to fulfilling my request to make it right.  He promised to call me first thing Monday morning - he didn't.  I went by the shop & picked up my car - he was out to lunch, I asked for a call back when he returned - didn't happen.  I emailed him later that day - no response.  I called again the following day, he told the receptionist that he would call me back prior to leaving that day - didn't happen.  I emailed again - no response.  I'd say that's asshole qualifying behavior.  I would be happier if he had simply told me tough luck in our first conversation about the issue instead of carrying on the ruse that they cared about making it right.

I have made arrangements to have my 2nd vehicle repaired elsewhere (obviously).  I also spoke to State Farm's regional director for the Select Service about the issue - they were adamant that this is unacceptable and that they will be in touch with the Body Shop.  I guess we'll see where that goes.  I will also definitely contact BBB and write letters to the corporate office.  I'm sure all of that will trickle down to the 2 people I dealt with at the shop.

raringvt said:   I have made arrangements to have my 2nd vehicle repaired elsewhere (obviously).  I also spoke to State Farm's regional director for the Select Service about the issue - they were adamant that this is unacceptable and that they will be in touch with the Body Shop.  I guess we'll see where that goes.  I will also definitely contact BBB and write letters to the corporate office.  I'm sure all of that will trickle down to the 2 people I dealt with at the shop.
 
The BBB is perhaps the most corrupt business I've yet to see. Complaining does nothing, they help with nothing. The only thing they do is take money from the company to make complaints go away.

You might as well write a letter and then burn it.

justignoredem said:   
raringvt said:   I have made arrangements to have my 2nd vehicle repaired elsewhere (obviously).  I also spoke to State Farm's regional director for the Select Service about the issue - they were adamant that this is unacceptable and that they will be in touch with the Body Shop.  I guess we'll see where that goes.  I will also definitely contact BBB and write letters to the corporate office.  I'm sure all of that will trickle down to the 2 people I dealt with at the shop.
 
The BBB is perhaps the most corrupt business I've yet to see. Complaining does nothing, they help with nothing. The only thing they do is take money from the company to make complaints go away.

You might as well write a letter and then burn it.

  I would agree that the BBB is one of the most corrupt businesses that claims to be the very opposite of a corrupt business (YUUUUUGE thumbs up to Wolfgang for giving them the finger). But they are definitely not the most (or one of the most) corrupt businesses that exist.

That being said, the very fact that some businesses care about their BBB rating means they'll respond to BBB complaints, which is why I qualified my statement about the BBB in my suggestion.

justignoredem said:   
 
The BBB is perhaps the most corrupt business I've yet to see. Complaining does nothing, they help with nothing. The only thing they do is take money from the company to make complaints go away.

You might as well write a letter and then burn it.

  BBB got issues, but that's way over dramatic.

Some business cares about BBB rating, it's very much of an advantage for consumer to use that to their benefit.  I seen it from the business side and also got very good result writing to BBB from the consumer side, Of course, YMMV.

Make sure to write a negative Yelp review on this place, so you can warn others about the shady/unethical practices.

raringvt said:   I also spoke to State Farm's regional director for the Select Service about the issue - they were adamant that this is unacceptable and that they will be in touch with the Body Shop.  I guess we'll see where that goes.
Please update this thread on the outcome/result of State Farm's intervention.
raringvt said:   I will also definitely contact BBB and write letters to the corporate office.  I'm sure all of that will trickle down to the 2 people I dealt with at the shop.
It may trickle down to them, but if their management chain (or corporate owner) gets wind of it, they may have a completely different attitude and get back to you in a timely manner (hopefully w/ an amicable resolution).

I've rarely ever used the BBB, but over a decade ago their intervention resulted in success.  Back when I bought items w/ MIR's on a frequent basis, I got nowhere w/ a rebate processor regarding a missing (or perhaps rejected) rebate.  With nothing to lose, I contacted the BBB (which entailed filling out a form on-line), filing the complaint against the MANUFACTURER (i.e. the ones who offered the rebate) using the BBB site corresponding to the state of the manufacturer's corporate mailing address.  A week or so later, a representative from the manufacturer contacted me, was very apologetic and put the blame on their rebate processor.  The manufacturer made me whole by sending me a check, where normally the check would have arrived from the rebate processor.  The representative strongly requested that once I was made whole to notify the BBB so that the case could be closed out w/ a successful resolution (which I did).

If you know who the corporate owner of the Body Shop is, you may want to file your BBB complaint against them in addition to the Body Shop itself.

raringvt said:   
4) I'm not petty enough for slamming them in online reviews.

 

  I don't think you should consider this petty. Sure, people sometimes write poor reviews to hurt the company. However, of your four choices, this one is most likely to help other consumers avoid such problems. You seem satisfied with the work. Other reviews will reflect the same satisfaction so people are likely to be drawn to this Body Shop. With your input, people will also be careful to not get snagged in the same net. Without people participating online to assist others, great resources such as FWF wouldn't even exist. I encourage you to reconsider online reviews.



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