No one likes taking in a car for repairs. We have to carve out time to drive it in or have it towed, we have to arrange for transportation back home or to a car rental shop, and of course, we have to shell out our hard-earned cash -- cash that could be better spent on vacations or groceries or bolo ties for cats.
A new service called Openbay won't make you fall in love with the repair process, but it could make things run a bit smoother, and there's a chance it could save you some scratch, too.
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Openbay is a little like Lending Tree, the website where consumers apply for loans and compare offers from a variety of banks. With Openbay, consumers visit Openbay.com or use the company's iPhone app to plug in basic information, like the make and model of the vehicle needing service, the problems that the car has been having, and perhaps the service that's required (if known). Users can also set preferences, like how far they're willing to travel for repairs, when they'd like the repairs carried out, and finding shops that offer loaner cars.
Once that's done, participating shops evaluate the driver's request and respond with bids. Before booking, users can check out each shop's reviews from others who've had work done there. When the driver has decided on a particular garage, she uses the Openbay website or app to book the service.
Beyond generating numerous quotes for service, Openbay offers a few other perks:
- It's free to use. The shop pays Openbay a 10 percent fee for the referral.
- When booking service, drivers can plug in their credit card info. Openbay handles the credit card charge, ensuring that shops don't charge more for repairs than they've quoted.
- Service records are kept online, meaning that owners have access to them on the go, no matter where they are. That's handy, especially if your car breaks down while you're out of town.
Of course, if you already have a preferred garage -- as many of us do, thanks to endless trial and error -- Openbay may not seem all that attractive. But it can't hurt to peek, right?