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Pre Existing Damage Report and My Situation

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So right now im my shop I am dealing with a customer who is claiming we scratched there car in like 5 different places. Unfortunately we have been slacking on the pre existing damage report. Because really my multi point inspection form does not have a good one. Its just a 3 inch by 1 1/2 picture of a car and we are to circle the damaged areas. Now in this case here on out final road test a rock from a truck hit the windshield and put a nice chip in it. I called teh customer and explained what happened and told her I would replace the windshield for her which I did. Now half hour after she picks it up she is claiming of all this damage on the car. She stopped by today to show me the damage and it is on the d/s and p/s/ front door and a little on the fenders. Its not like one scratch its multiple blemishes obviously not caused at the same time. So being a new business and concerned with her blasting me on the internet I am most likely going to take this one on the chin and get it fixed. She had brought me in 2 estimates for 1000 dollars. I told her to go to MAACO and they gave me an estimate for 525. The thing that really bugs me is she kinda just wants me to cut her a check for 500 bucks so it appears she is obviously just is looking for money. How would you handle this?


Also in the future I am going to be doing a pre existing damage report on each car that is dropped off. But lets face it, most of the cars we see are 100k miles plus with multiple blemishes on them. What is the tolerance of what you are marking down? And even if you have the report they can always claim you added that in.





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I have come so close to offering discounts for online reviews... Then I realized the car lot down the road has 3 reviews. 1 says the salesman put his hand on her leg and told her to take a back road and find somewhere quiet, then told her he knows all the cops in town and they would never believe/listen to her. The other said the car lot sneaks onto your property at night and steals parts off the car they just sold you... Point being, these reviews are 3 years old and the car lot is doing just fine.


A negative review won't kill your business. Certainly not saying they are pointless and ignore them, but they are not the end of the world. And she might not even leave a review at all. It already sounds like a customer you don't want. It's OK to fire her as a customer. All she is going to do is hurt your bottom line, which makes it harder for you to stay in business and provide good service at an affordable price to better people.

Edited by mmotley
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I've only had to 'fire' 1 customer before. It consisted of telling them we will not work on their car and please do not return again. All was done politely in the office, closed door. No arguing, no revisiting what was said, no misunderstanding. Plain and simple, I respectfully decline to work on your car because we feel like neither party will be satisfied in the end.


In your case, yes, I would tell the customer to 'take a hike' IF you truly believe that you did not cause the damage. If you ABSOLUTELY KNOW that you or your employees did not cause the damage, I would not back down. SOME customers will take advantage of you if you let them. I would say to consider how good of customer they have been so far (bought all recommendations?), but it doesn't sound like they have much of track record to go off of.


Exercise your best judgement, but I wouldn't fix someones scratches just because they threatened me with negative online reviews. If the customer actually threatens with a negative review, I'd probably mention something about slander, unsubstantiated allegations, and compensation for loss of business.

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I have to agree seems like you are being taken advantage. She might think in her mind she is right but let's be honest here... She probably has no idea what her car looks like on a week to week basis let alone day to day. If I were you I would probably explain that you were honest enough to admit to the windshield however you feel like you are being taken advantage of. I know it's a hard situation and I feel like you are probably leaning toward caving in. Best of luck to you.

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You're in a difficult position for sure. I know taking vehicle condition photos will not help in this particular instance, but I would highly recommend taking them in the future. Shops have found photos to be helpful in instances where vehicles are dropped off with noticeable damage. This can help cover you should a customer claim the vehicle was damaged while at your shop.


Photos are also helpful to document which repairs are needed. If you'd like to learn more, please take a look at our blog: http://boltontechnology.com/photos-help-shops-sell-more-services/


Good luck to you.

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Mike brings up a great point that I completely forgot. I can't tell you how many times I have taken pictures of doors, dashes, seats, etc with my phone before I started working on them. I don't tell the customer, but I make sure my phone dates and times the photo. This avoids walking around the vehicle with the customer and pointing out every little detail, but covers me on some things that I feel I might be walking into. Great idea. Not sure if this would help in your situation since it sounds like she is complaining about arbitrary damages, but hope it helps some.

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here is another situation im in at my other shop: (and i swear this isnt the norm..lol) Customer comes in for a oil change and tire rotation in september then in november the guys studs break and wheel falls off.... guys is blaming it on us... is that possible 2 months later? He claims the wheels were over torqued... but 2 months really? Guy goes to the BBB demanding 1100 dollars for 4 new rims because his aftermarket wheel is no longer available....


bad week

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Over and under torque are both a problem that can cause wheel issues. Using an impact, lubricant or copper coat can cause severe over torque of lug nuts.

Do you mark down what the wheels were torqued to on your work orders? This would be the easiest way to prove that you didn't over torque them.


You might have to take a long hard look around to find a single rim for the guy, I find it hard to believe that they are completely gone off the face of the earth.

It might also be time to update your procedures in your shop so this can't happen again.

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1. Insomniac is DEFINITELY being taken advantage of and should not repair anything.

2. Get Dropbox on your phone so every picture you take is automatically uploaded to the cloud with a name which is the time/date stamp.

3. Studs snap when a car is driven with a loose wheel. The weight of the vehicle pushes the rim away from the hub 1 time for every tire revolution. At 30 mph this is allot of force on the lug stud and eventually snaps clean off. Kind of like bending a coat hanger fast until it snaps. If your lucky the customer will pull over when they here the "THUD", "THUD","THUD","THUD".


This happened to me just yesterday on a 1998 Mercury Mystique. I reviewed the video for December 1, 2014 and I can see the tech getting side tracked and skipping the wheel torque step. Fair is fair so I am paying for the complete repair including the fender.


We use a torque stick on every wheel. My tire tech uses a torque stick and then he verifies the torque with a torque wrench. Our invoice disclaimer states: "Lug nuts should be re-torqued after 200 to 500 miles. Call (401) 681-4994 to schedule your re-torque." 2 people in 5 years actually read it and came in.

Edited by UsedTireShop
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  • 3 weeks later...

We had a gal come in with a van she dropped off for service. We worked on the van she picks it up and then tells me we dented the fender. The fender that was dented was all rusted where it was hit so I knew that was not new. I asked


the guys in the shop, they told me that it was there when she came in. After spending approx 2 hours looking at video from our camera system, i could clearly see that dent was there from the first moment she pulled into the parking lot.


By the way, she was also demanding cash instead of repairing the vehicle, I showed her the video which showed her pulling in and the dent was there when she first pulled in. After that she just tells me that it's possible she got hit when


she was at Safeway before she came here. Not even an apology for wasting my time. Jeez. a customer I DON'T want back.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
      The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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