If you are approached by a person at home or in a parking lot who is offering to fix a dent on your car, think twice before agreeing – you could be getting ripped off.
Greg Bedford, of Bedford Autobody in Mountain View, recently had two customers come into his shop who were targets of the “fix the fender” scam.
“I have this truck in here now where the guy came out to my customer’s house and said he could fix the dent for $200. He finished and said, ‘Don’t worry about the paint; I’ll come back and paint it, but I need to have some money today.’ He left and never came back. It’s going to cost my customer 3 times as much. The guy stretched the metal and even put Bondo [autobody filler] over the stripes.”
Bedford had a second story: “One woman was at a shopping mall, and one of these guys approached her and asked her if she wanted him to fix her car’s dent’s. He said he could do it in the parking lot while she was shopping.” She fell for it. It cost her $1200.00 there was Bondo hanging off the rear bumper,left tailight and the left quarter-panel. He told her to take the car to her body shop for the paint, but, of course, that Bondo had to come off and be redone.
IF A CAR IS HIT hard enough,the frame will bend. If the frame is not straightened, the car is virtualy worthless. It’s like a house with a rotting foundation. The way it looks on the outside dosen’t mean much if the foundation is crumbling.
Cathy Lewis, co-owner of Bel-Carlos Autobody in Belmont, said she knows of many customers who have been taken by these “body men.”
They (the solicitors) slapped on some bondo and that was it; there was no preparation, no taking out the dent, parts didn’t matter- it was just a big ripoff. Anybody can do what they did.”
When I was in high school, a friend of mine was approached outside his home by a guy who said he could fix the dent in his Chevrolet Suburban Wagon. He packed body filler on the damaged panel, took the money and left. The next time the wagon was washed, all it took was a garden hose to knock the filler off.
Adam Smith, national director of Collision Repair Specialists, went on to say when a car is in an accident, the metal is stretched and has to be put back to its original shape using cold water and a torch. “It’s an art. Only one out of two body men have the capacity to heat-shrink” he said. He added that these “body men” do little grinding on the dent, and pack filler on. “Filler should never be over an eighth of an inch thick”, Smith said, “if it’s too thick, it will crack. It will cost three times as much to undo what was done and correct it. What I find ironic is there is a shortage of body men. A good body man can earn as much as $80,000 a year in Northern California.
“If these guys were good, they would have jobs.”
East Palo Alto police officer Nick Bennett gives this advice, “Unless it’s a reputable body shop, don’t let people work on your car” he said that otherwise, “it’s generally a rip-off.”
FOR OVER 30 YEARS: Owner, Greg Bedford of Bedford of Autobody has seen it all. He is not only the owner of bedford autobody, but does hands on Autobody and Painting. He has restored numerous classic cars and has traveled through out the country, Showing some of his classic car’s in numerous award winning car show’s.
In June, 2010 Greg won 1st place in his class at the Palo Alto Concours D Elegance, with the showing of his 1952 Buick Super 2 door hard top, which he restored himself.
“In the future, if some guy is coming to your home or to a store parking lot to repair dents on your car, don’t fall for it, it can’t be done.” In order to do autobody and painting, it has to be done at a reputable body shop that is licensed with the State of California Bureau of Auto Repair. Bedford Autobody has the facility and the skilled technicians to do the work to the highest standard.
Like our motto say’s quality work: “Done Right The First Time”