So I go to New York for a few days and during the trip the Mrs. informs me that she had a meeting with a certain pole in our van... going at "zero miles an hour", according to her. As long as she's ok - the rest isn't that relevant... cars get screwed up and get fixed, part of life... but what happened here is slightly beyond belief.
I decided to visit several body shops and get some quotes. First, the Showcase in Kirkland - a great place, I've dealt with them before, they are very nice, do a very good job and I'm pretty happy to have them handle it. But I thought I'd get some additional quotes as well.
In Bellevue I pulled up to this place called "Eastside Auto Rebuild", part of some Carstar network that supposedly provides a better service. I walk in and the front desk woman asks what I need. I tell her that I need someone to appraise the damage and she replies "Let me see if ??? can look at it?". That should've been my first clue, but I let her check. She came back with a semi-smile stating that ??? can look at the car and for me to fill out the Appraisal Form, something they had an abundance of on the counter. I filled out the form, although was somewhat perplexed at one of the questions, which was "are you going to repair the car with us?", with possible responses allowed being 'yes' and 'no'. I wrote in 'maybe', since that's the choice they really should've had at this stage.
A man comes out, not very friendly fellow, but I wasn't looking for companionship.. and we step outside. The guy looks at the damaged side, then pops the hood. I tell him that she barely touched this one side, but he continues... I figured he is simply trying to be thorough. Then he went to the other side, the side that was only touched by dust and ran his finger along the hood lines and looked here and there and everywhere and was writing something. After a few minutes of this he asked to go back to his office... so we did.
His office was filled with all kinds of diploma's of attending various car-related repair schools, some photos of vintage cars etc. He sits at this totally messy desk and gets going on the old computer and that's where 20 questions started.
He asks if I had any other quotes, and I answered that I did. Then he asked why I was here... which threw me for a loop a bit, but I said because I'm trying to get some more quotes. He asked if I had insurance and I told him that I did, and it has deductible and I'm trying to get several quotes. He asks "to get a better price?"... to which I replied "yes, possibly". Then the guy irritatingly says that if I'm looking to get the best price - I'm at the wrong place. He can pretty much guarantee that he'll be more expensive than others and if my insurance pays for it anyway, what do I care about the price. I felt like telling the guy that none of this is any of his business, but kept my cool. Then he asks if I'm planning to get it fixed here. I said that I don't know, possibly. He then fires back that if I'm looking for the best price then, and I quote, "we're done here!". I couldn't believe my eyes and ears. That's how you run a business? By practically kicking potential customers out the door unless you know they'll pay you through the nose? Unreal!
So, I left... and walked across the way to another body shop where I was greeted by a very nice gentleman, who immediately came out, inspected the car and within 2 minutes I had a quote and time frame for repair as well as some other useful insurance-related info. None of the idiotic questions as above, just exactly what I was expecting from a body shop at this point.
If you have to fix your car - there are many choices, but most definitely steer clear of Eastside Auto Rebuild, you'll be doing yourself a favor. If the guy I talked with is the owner - he deserves to go out of business with that kind of attitude and approach. If he isn't - the owners need to rethink their staffing, if they want to get business.
P.S. An interesting side note was that while I was waiting for the 'guru' to come out, another gentleman was signing his papers, he was apparently unfortunate enough to deal with this outfit. I heard a part of the conversation where he stated that some part was replaced without any reason, they replaced a perfectly functional part and charged him for it. He wasn't happy.