As a car owner, you can’t always rely on DIY fixes for vehicle repairs. You’d have to take it to an auto body shop at some point. But did you know that as a customer, you also have rights?
Knowing Your Rights: Why It Matters
Some auto shops simply cannot be trusted and will do whatever they can to make money out of unsuspecting car owners. They might sell you services you don’t need, or hike up the prices of substandard car parts to maximize their profits.
Several car insurance providers direct policyholders to certain repair shops – a practice called steering. But it’s not to ensure you get the best they could offer. Rather, these shops have agreed to keep repairs on a budget so insurance companies can cut costs. Unfortunately, it comes at your expense as the policyholder.
The 5 Rights Of An Auto Body Shop Customer
Knowing your rights will help you avoid being taken advantage of. More importantly, it empowers you to be in control and make decisions based on your situation and preferences.
1. The right to choose an auto body shop
Earlier, we mentioned steering and how it’s being employed by some car insurance companies. The practice is illegal. Most states require them to inform policyholders that they’re not obligated to take vehicles to these recommended shops.
Whatever the circumstance, always remember that you have the right to choose which auto body shop will handle the repairs. You can follow the advice of your car insurance provider – not all of them will try to steer you. But you likewise need to be aware of another right that every customer has.
2. The right to decide on repair parts
A car repair shop cannot force you into using certain parts for replacement. You have every right to decide between original and alternative parts including aftermarket, imitation, and salvaged parts. Of course, it’s always best to choose original equipment manufacturer or OEM accessories. While expensive, they’re guaranteed to have better quality.
Remember to check your insurance policy for limitations. Some allow the use of OEM parts. Others have limits based on the age of a vehicle. Most companies offer two policies specifying the use of either OEM-only or alternative-only parts. If you don’t want these policy limits to get in the way, you can opt out of your insurance and pay for repairs out of pocket.
3. The right to refuse services
Just as you have the right to choose replacement parts, you also have the right to refuse services. Maybe you’re not sure you need them. Or it could be that the services being offered don’t really address safety concerns and are therefore unnecessary.
4. The right to second opinion
If you’re not sure about getting a service or certain car parts replaced, you’re free to get a second, third, or as many opinions as you would like. Naturally, you’d want to get expert opinion from professional mechanics and trusted auto body shops.
5. The right to a safe and well-repaired car
As the customer of an auto body shop, you have every right to a vehicle that is safe to drive in. If you feel that the car was unfairly returned to you in a less-than-ideal state, you can ask them to re-do repairs until you’re satisfied with the results.