Prevailing In A Real Life Car Repair Dispute

June 3, 2010

Patrick and Vanessa Ryan figuratively raised their window and yelled at their insurance company: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” But from the description of the extended repair as related at nj.com, it took a lot of persistence and perseverance to overcome multiple setbacks in the process.

Their 2009 Toyota Corolla was in a rear end crash back in February. The Ryans did everything right. They solicited a recommendation of a friend and had their car towed to a body shop. According to Patrick Ryan, the insurer said that the repairs would be made with Toyota parts, which became an issue later in the nearly $8,000 repair process.

After about a month Ryan paid his $500 deductible, but found that some of the items were not repaired and noticed that an aftermarket part had been used to repair the tail light. He compiled a list of deficiencies and met with the insurance adjuster. Subsequently they gave the shop another chance at repairing the car, but upon returning (it was April Fool’s Day) the list of repairs had not been completed.

At this point the Ryans became really proactive and paid $453 to have another auto body shop check out the car. Its report indicated that flaws in the repair made the car “compromised” from a safety and structural standpoint. According to the nj.com article, the insurance company stilled balked at taking action.

Then Ryan filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  The body shop responded that their use of aftermarket parts in place of Toyota parts was motivated by a desire to facilitate the repair process in light of what they saw as Toyota’s poor record for supplying the right parts in a timely manner. These parts were meant to be replaced with the OEM versions at a later date the body shop said in a response to the complaint.

In the end the insurance company took responsibility for all of the Ryan’s problems and offered to cover the cost of a rental car during the re-do of the repair performed at another shop and reimbursed the couple for the $453 second opinion. Check out Bamboozled on Facebook for updates to this story.

One of the lessons learned from this adventure that has lasted nearly four months and is not over yet is that one recommendation doesn’t always make an ironclad endorsement. Also, confrontation is a necessity when a car repair goes south, which is what Patrick Ryan was willing to employ when he discovered the non-Toyota tail light assembly. And finally, the value of taking the dispute to the next level can never be undervalued. Ryan did it when he sought a second opinion and again when he involved the Better Business Bureau.

The next time you are involved in an auto related consumer complaint you can either go to the mat with the repair company like the Ryans did or you can decide that you’re not really “mad as hell” and simply take it.

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