UPDATE March 15: After viewing this story, a good Samaritan offered to repair Mica Wenzel’s car for free.
Frank Nunez owns CARSTAR Color Build in Garland.
Nunez said he saw The Ones for Justice investigation and felt badly about what happened to Wenzel.
“When someone in this industry does something like that it makes everyone look bad,” Nunez said.
Wenzel accepted Nunez’s offer and scheduled to get his car fixed next week.
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Not all auto body shops are created equal, especially in the eyes of insurance providers.
Some drivers say they trusted a Fort Worth body shop to fix their cars, only to find their vehicles unfinished and the funds from their insurance claims depleted.
Now they’re sharing what they wish they knew before handing over those insurance checks.
Out of frustration, Sarah Pinedo recorded her interactions at Forge’s Auto Body after she discovered the condition of her car. She provided the recording to The Ones for Justice after the fact.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Pinedo can be heard saying on the cell phone recording, inspecting the interior of her vehicle. She also noticed workers replaced a new battery she had previously purchased with an older battery.
“You guys don’t have our car ready like you told us,” Pinedo said to the owner, Bud Lad.
“Because you didn’t have car rental insurance,” Lad replied, raising his voice and approaching the camera.
“Why are you yelling at us?” Pinedo asked.
Pinedo wasn’t the only angry patron that day.
Mica Wenzel was also there to see the state of his car.
Wenzel crashed his car in December, but he said the real damage happened afterward.
“We’re missing the radiator, radiator condenser, bumper,” said Wenzel as he looked over his car.
Wenzel took his Nissan Maxima to Forge’s in December.
Six weeks later, he said he found his car an undriveable mess.
“I think they got in over their head,” Wenzel said.
Wenzel chose Forge’s after an employee approached him in public, offering to pay his deductible.
State Farm paid more than $11,000 repairs, but now that money is gone.
Wenzel said a job he was told could take two weeks turned into nearly two months.
“State Farm paid these guys to do a job that wasn’t done,” Wenzel said.
But State Farm likely won’t be able to help Wenzel. That’s because he chose a shop outside the company’s network.
Rule #1: Choose a company on your provider’s list of preferred vendors.
Your provider can vouch for the service
Rule #2: Avoid shops that offer to waive your deductible.
Even though it seems like consumers are saving money, body shops could really be skimping on parts or cutting corners.
While it did not appear Forge’s cut corners on the repairs it did finish, Lad said he offered to pay customers’ deductibles in order to help them save money.
“Sadly, people see this as a way to save a little money and their allured into participating in this,” said Fred Lohmann, the director of field operations for the southwest region of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Rule #3: Compare estimates from several shops.
Wenzell said he learned those lessons the hard way.
“I just want the money back,” Wenzel said. “I want them to send the money back to State Farm so they can repay a claim to me.”
But it does not appear State Farm can help Wenzel.
Public Affairs Specialist Angie Harrier issued the following statement on behalf of State Farm:
“State Farm works with our customers to pay covered losses, however it’s the customer’s choice to choose their repair facility and authorize payment for completed work. Payments are typically issued to our customers unless a customer approves direct payment to the repair facility. The role of insurance is to pay for the covered portion of the loss. If a customer feels that the work done by the repair facility does not meet their expectations, they need to have these conversations with the repair facility.”
However, Geico, which covered Pinedo’s claim, is currently investigating the matter. A lead investigator said he could not elaborate further, indicating “the investigations are ongoing.”
Lad did not want to do an interview, but he told CBS 11 he blamed the delays on missing parts and personal family matters.
Lad said he plans to send Wenzel’s claim money back to State Farm, but so far there is no indication that’s happened.