In a a pickle: Insurance co. vs. Body Shop vs. Me - BMW M5 Forum and M6 Forums

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Old 8th February 2007, 01:31   #1
MPire
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In a a pickle: Insurance co. vs. Body Shop vs. Me

So like I was saying in the other thread I just posted, my E46 M3 is almost ready for me to take delivery from the body shop. Problem is, not without settling a dilemma.

When I was involved in the second of back to back accidents, I sustained considerable damage to the front end of the car. As such, I looked at the situation opportunistically, and asked my advisor at the body shop (with whom I had forged a 3 month long relationship just beforehand during the first accident the car had) if I couldn't substitute some aftermarket parts in lieu of OEM parts -- without any cost passed on to me. Namely, I wanted the hood and bumper (both damaged) replaced with Vorsteiner versions from Evosport, and the airbox (damaged) replaced with an AFE stage 1 intake.

Needless to say these parts were more expensive than their OEM counterparts, and would also require additional labor fees for custom fitment. I wasn't concerned with the "how" of making this work, just the "can it be done without me paying?" and the answer was "yes." My advisor had a good relationship with the adjustor from the insurance company, and he assured me all was good. After all, I was repeat, big-margin business, and had given them a glowing referral despite a sub-par experience my first time through, in consideration of the fact that they went above and beyond the call of duty to make right on my car.

The problem started when my advisor, who was handling the situation, and was well versed in mods and aftermarket parts for my car, QUIT - leaving me and my car up in the air mid-job, and the poor advisor who inherited the file in the dark.

Apparently whatever steps my now ex-advisor was taking to make things happen for me, were met with a great deal of scrutiny from one of the supervisors of the body shop who eventually had the file land on his desk. When I went down to handle the paperwork yesterday, he tells me that there is a balance of $3800 between what the insurance covered, and the actual invoice for the car, which needs to be paid for before they release the vehicle.

He pulled out the last piece of paperwork I signed on the car: an estimate that included all the work that was to be done, along with a cover page that read: "Ali, here is a final estimate, I think I can get all of this covered, [ex-advisor]." Needless to say I signed without a second thought considering my advisor had been made well aware of my requests, and my desire to have no costs passed on to me. If the insurance company wasn't going to foot the bill, he would undoubtedly have called me to tell me that prior to initiating the work or parts purchases -- that is of course if he was still working there!!

So now the insurance is not going to pay for the extras (understandably), and the body shop expects me to swallow the pill. My problem is that an employee, acting on behalf of the company, made a good faith commitment to handle my request, and now because he is no longer working there and the s*** appears to have hit the fan, they want to go after me. I like my ex-advisor, and he took care of me when working there as well as it appears he screwed me by quitting, so I don't want to throw him under the bus. But it would seem that if the body shop is looking to recover a balance on the invoice then they need to take that up with their ex employee -- not me. Especially considering they are a phone call away from confirming (so long as he is honest about this) that despite the "I think I can cover this" paperwork, I was abundantly clear with him that the only way I wanted any of this work to be performed was if no costs were passed on to me. Unfortunately, the fine print on the estimate talks about authorizing the company to perform the work on the car regardless of what the insurance covers or not, and how I am responsible for any difference in the end .

My girlfriend is an attorney and I have spoken to her about this already, but was looking to perhaps simply share the experience with you all, if not get some feedback or suggestions. I don't feel like I should have to pay, but if I decide to draw a line in the sand and fight my car continues to sit in the shop as collateral unless I write a check for $3800.

Fuming,
Ali
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Old 8th February 2007, 01:48   #2
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wow ali !! i don't even know what to say,i think the fight will be meaningless even if the previous advisor says yeah thats what i told him, if he left on bad terms the boss isnt gonna care what he says.its screwed up cause you/car are stuck in the middle.

the real question is did the ins co write a check for the total cost of the repiars and the aftermarket or did they give a check for just the damages ??
first call the ins co and ask what was the check for then call body shop and ask how much was the repair for if its equal then call the ins back and tell them this guy is trying to make you pay extra,but if its a $3800 diff then i believe you're gonna have to foot the bill..

sorry i hope it works out for you..
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Old 8th February 2007, 03:11   #3
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Well you were trying to get over on the Insurance company. If they caught wind of this earlier, it would not have gone through. The fact that you were friendly with the body shop employee and he with the insurance adjuster is not enough. The fact that an employee was hooking you up does not mean the company is responsible. When he left, so did the deal. I mean he could have been lying to you and you could have ended up in the same boat. JMHO.
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Old 8th February 2007, 03:37   #4
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Is 3800 dollars the difference between the cost the insurance company would have paid for the parts and the aftermarket parts from evosport?
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Old 8th February 2007, 05:00   #5
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Any time you can settle your differences out of court is better (IMO) for all involved. But not always possible because of either or both sides not willing to budge.
Considering both sides of the situation:
1) Customer did get some upgrades worth ??? 2 to 3 thousand $$. and the insurance company really shouldn't have to pay
2) Employee did make some promises (but did he have the authority to make??) thus possibly leaving the employer in an awkward position.

If you can come to a mutual agreement on a price that will leave neither party feeling like 1)you got raped by the shop and 2)they (the shop) feel screwed by the customer - both sides should be able to move on and learn from the experience.
I think that legally the shop's employer would have the upper hand but if it was me, as the owner, I would want to give the best price break I could to keep my customer somewhat happy without feeling screwed myself. I'm speaking from an employers point of view because that's what I are. Good luck.
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Old 8th February 2007, 05:39   #6
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I'm not flaming you here, but here's my interpretation of your situation:

By your own admission you were trying to get "something for nothing": Specifically, you wanted your insurance company compensate you in excess of their reasonable obligation, which is to restore your car to its pre-loss condition using OE parts.

The body shop may have had some margin to play with in terms of its labor cost, but not enough to cover the $3800 parts cost delta. I can't imagine any body shop making this kind of deal assuming they're on the up-and-up and are in business for profit.

In short, it seems like you had expectations of a deal that was too good to be true, and unfortunately, that's how it turned out. Even if your ex-advisor at the body shop made these commitments to you, it seems as if the arrangement was made under false pretenses that might even implicate you as party to fraud (though I'm not a lawyer and I'm certainly not accusing you of such).

Perhaps the most reasonable solution is to split the additional cost with your body shop, but given that you don't have anything in writing supporting your position, you may have a tough time with this...

Good luck.
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Old 8th February 2007, 06:17   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LI-M5
the real question is did the ins co write a check for the total cost of the repairs and the aftermarket or did they give a check for just the damages ??
Not sure LI, I will ask the insurance company for copies of the estimates that were provided to them, and I will compare that with the estimate given to me, looking for any discrepancies. I will also ask the body shop to identify any and everything they are charging me for (i.e. that the insurance isn't paying for).

Quote:
Originally Posted by MMMach5
Well you were trying to get over on the Insurance company. If they caught wind of this earlier, it would not have gone through. The fact that you were friendly with the body shop employee and he with the insurance adjuster is not enough. The fact that an employee was hooking you up does not mean the company is responsible. When he left, so did the deal. I mean he could have been lying to you and you could have ended up in the same boat. JMHO.
I was actually trying to take advantage of a potential opportunity to replace OEM parts with more desirable aftermarket ones. If "getting one over on the insurance company" was how that was pursued by the body shop then that is a big problem -- but their problem, not mine. And at no point would I ever recommend, suggest or endorse illegal or fraudulent activity!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalik314
Is 3800 dollars the difference between the cost the insurance company would have paid for the parts and the aftermarket parts from evosport?
Yes, but the difference in parts is actually only about $2800, and I can only assume they are holding me accountable for an additional $1000 in extra labor associated with custom fitment time, above and beyond the time the OEM version of the parts would have required. I will look at the final paperwork once I get it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by M CRISIS
Any time you can settle your differences out of court is better (IMO) for all involved. But not always possible because of either or both sides not willing to budge.
Considering both sides of the situation:
1) Customer did get some upgrades worth ??? 2 to 3 thousand $$. and the insurance company really shouldn't have to pay
2) Employee did make some promises (but did he have the authority to make??) thus possibly leaving the employer in an awkward position.

If you can come to a mutual agreement on a price that will leave neither party feeling like 1)you got raped by the shop and 2)they (the shop) feel screwed by the customer - both sides should be able to move on and learn from the experience.
I think that legally the shop's employer would have the upper hand but if it was me, as the owner, I would want to give the best price break I could to keep my customer somewhat happy without feeling screwed myself. I'm speaking from an employers point of view because that's what I are. Good luck.
CRISIS, I agree that this would seem to be the most fair and reasonable resolution at the end of the day. That said, if there is evidence that the body shop was potentially pursuing a fraudulent approach to my claim, that reality equips me with quite a bit of leverage with which to place the business in a position to weigh their reputability, licenses, BMW NA authorization, and millions in annual earnings vs. the $3800 write off it would take to make me go away. That's not extortion, just legal process/negotiation.

I also sympathize with the position of a business owner and am not looking to get one over on anyone, or make enemies. But I won't bite the bullet on my own for mistakes made on their end of the equation as a matter of principle. They have to be accountable for their employees' actions.

The owner of the shop has an E60 M5 exactly like mine...color, trim, interior, options etc. We chatted quite a bit when my M3 was in there the first time and I think I would like to get him involved in helping us come to a resolution. He seems like a very reasonable guy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmayzurk
I'm not flaming you here, but here's my interpretation of your situation:

By your own admission you were trying to get "something for nothing": Specifically, you wanted your insurance company compensate you in excess of their reasonable obligation, which is to restore your car to its pre-loss condition using OE parts.

The body shop may have had some margin to play with in terms of its labor cost, but not enough to cover the $3800 parts cost delta. I can't imagine any body shop making this kind of deal assuming they're on the up-and-up and are in business for profit.

In short, it seems like you had expectations of a deal that was too good to be true, and unfortunately, that's how it turned out. Even if your ex-advisor at the body shop made these commitments to you, it seems as if the arrangement was made under false pretenses that might even implicate you as party to fraud (though I'm not a lawyer and I'm certainly not accusing you of such).

Perhaps the most reasonable solution is to split the additional cost with your body shop, but given that you don't have anything in writing supporting your position, you may have a tough time with this...

Good luck.
No flaming taken.

I was not trying to get "something for nothing." There was damage to several parts (OEM and aftermarket) in my stock bumper (HID foglight conversions, Hamann inserts, OEM foglights etc adding up to quite a bit of money) that given a CSL style bumper replacement, did not need to be replaced, and did not require labor. I speculated that the savings to the body shop's invoice given this, was to be applied to the purchase of the aftermarket parts.

The supervisor explained to me that that is called cost shipping and would be unethical, but at no point was that ever brought to my attention by my advisor, who didn;t tell me how he was going to take care of things. I am not pleading ignorance, but there was no reason for me to think anything was awry if the insurance company paid what they owed based on my policy and legitimate claim, and the body shop was paid what they were owed based on the work done right?

There are several correspondences via email between myself and the advisor, though considering I deleted many of them (not thinking things would come to this ), I would be counting on his hotmail account to turn them up if it came to that. Somehow, I doubt if there is anything there that would potentially implicate him as responsible for the costs or overstepping his bounds as an employee at the time, that he would furnish the emails.

What a sticky situation. I have no problem paying for what is fair to pay for, but again, I wouldn't have had this work done if I was told: "You will have to pay $3800." It would have been as simple as: "Sorry, Ali, can't do that" to prevent this, but instead it was "No problem Ali, I'll take care of it."

Ali
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Old 8th February 2007, 07:31   #8
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Big old pills...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MPire
...So now...the body shop expects me to swallow the pill...
...and the s*** appears to have hit the fan...
...so I don't want to throw him under the bus.
...Fuming...
Ali
Yikes!

I'm envisioning (to a gutteral, choking soundtrack, no less), brown-splattered walls and tire-tracked tee shirts...

Ali, I feel your pain but my thinking is that you'll end up writing that check (sadly, the check'll be in writing, but the aforementioned wasn't) -- live and learn, as they say. Hope you'll ultimately regain lost sleep .

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Old 8th February 2007, 15:34   #9
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I would suggest that propose that the shop re-caculate the bill excluding the "additional labor" for the custom parts and charging you cost on the after-market parts in question. This way, they still make a profit on the remainder of the work (and are essentially whole with the small exception of the mark-up on the OEM parts they would have charged) and you still get the better result at less than full price. This seems fair considering that you would not have agreed to the "extra" work if you were going to pay full price for it.

If you want to drag this through a trial, they may have an issue as they are leagally bound by the oral agreements of their employees. However, they know and you know that you are not going to do this because (i) it isn't worth the $3800, (ii) they have your car and (iii) good luck proving what was agreed to orally.
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Old 8th February 2007, 19:01   #10
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