Maaco Autobody Complaint - Unbelievable Contempt for the Customer
BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON -- In May 2005 I took a car into the Bellevue WA shop and spoke to the estimator about getting the car into saleable condition. The main problems were paint chips on the hood, some light scratches in the clearcoat on one door, and more severe scratches on the bumpers. He looked it over and said that only the hood needed to be painted, and all the scratches would polish out. He wrote up an estimate for $315 plus tax.
When I picked up the car, an employee was still working on the side door, and the manager stated that polishing out the scratches had been more difficult than anticipated. As it was raining heavily, I wasn't able to properly inspect the work before paying the bill and taking the car home.
The next day, on examining the work that had been done, I saw that:
(a) The front bumper had not been touched at all.
(b) The scratches on the right door were now worse, as a very clumsy job of polishing had been done.
(c) There was a paint bubble on the hood where the repainting had been done.
I phoned the shop and pointed out these problems to the man who had given me the original estimate. He was apologetic and promised to personally do the work to my satisfaction if I would bring in the car again, which I did.
I went to pick up the car again a week later. I found it in the yard in a dirty condition with the front license plate and antenna sitting in the back seat. On inspection, I found that some work had been done on the bumper, and the paint bubble had been sanded so that it was now just an unsightly blotch. However, the scratches on the front door were worse than ever, and in fact the rear door was now badly scratched as well; the whole side of car appeared to have been attacked with sandpaper.
When I brought these matters to the attention of the manager, his manner was extremely unhelpful and insulting. First he said that "the story keeps changing," which was nonsense; the work I had wanted done was quite clearly stated on the estimate and I had never asked for anything else. Then he tried to throw the blame on his estimator. Then he said the $315 was only for the painting, and the polishing had been done "free" as a "favor" to me. Finally, he stated that his shop didn't normally do polishing at all, and that if I had wanted that done, I should have gone to a detailing shop. He refused to accept that his shop had any responsibility for the fact that (a) I had been told that the car would be put in a saleable condition, which it was not; (b) the scratches on the side of the car were far worse than when I had first brought it in. He refused to even look at the car and told me outright that he would not do anything more for me.
In the end, I asked for my keys and left the shop, telling the manager that since he was not willing to give me what I had paid for, I would have the work done elsewhere, send him a demand letter for the cost, and sue the shop in small claims court if necessary. His last words were, "Fine, I'll see you in court."
I then took the car to two other shops for estimates. Both told me that the paint on the hood has been so badly applied that it would have to be entirely redone. The scratches on the side of the car -- mostly from overaggressive polishing by the Maaco people -- were too deep to be dealt with other than by repainting. In the end, it cost me $1600 to put the car in saleable condition, in addition to the $315 I had paid Maaco.
In response to my demand letter, the owner of the shop apologized for his manager's manner but refused to acknowledge that I had any claim. He too asserted that the polishing was a "free" item even though it was on the estimate. (He didn't address the issue of the additional damage caused in the course of doing me this "favor".) He also stated that I had chosen not to take advantage of their warranty -- which is absurd, since the manager had clearly told me he was finished with the car and he wouldn't even look at the faulty workmanship. I might also mention that I wrote to customer service at Maaco national headquarters and did not even receive the courtesy of a reply.
So, this matter is ending up in court, and I advise staying away from this shop if you want quality work and courteous treatment.
UPDATE 9/15/05: The judgment in small claims court was in my favor, despite some questionable testimony from the Maaco representative, who asserted that I had asked for the car to be left on the street (not true) and that the scratches on the side of the car must have been caused by vandals! The judge ruled that I was entitled to a refund of what I had paid Maaco, plus the cost of repainting the side of the car. So in effect I just ended up paying for the repaint on the hood.