Monday, February 05, 2007

Car Bonks & Fraud

So Thursday I had a little fender bender on my way to work—a woman cut in front of me and I didn’t have enough time to stop and ended up bonking her front bumper. Her 2007 Mercedes Benz received a cracked reflector, my car had some scrapes on the bumper. But after all was said and done with the day, I had to spread far and wide what I had learned from the experience. After the bonk, we both pulled over to the side of the road to exchange information. Lo and behold, a tow truck operator who had witnessed the whole thing was already investigating the injuries to our cars. Thinking I was the easier target to take advantage of, he looked at my car and promptly deemed it undriveable due to the fact that my air bag was ready to blow at any time. Pointing to a non-existent crack under the hood “You see that there? That means your air bag sensor needs to be reset.” I saw nothing. He persisted and said I couldn’t drive the car. Next thing I knew, my car was attached to the tow truck and we were headed to a “Honda approved” garage of his employ. After unhooking my car, I called the insurance company and they suggested I move my car to one of their approved garages where they would guarantee the work done on my car. Sounded like a good idea to me. After an overnight stay at the 2nd garage, they deemed my car completely fine (not including a $300 bill to repaint the scratches on my bumper, not even worth the effort) and the ‘brid was back in my care. Lesson learned from this situation: NEVER let anyone take your car away on a tow truck, unless it is blocking traffic. Even in that case, have them move it to a location where someone you trust (your mechanic, your roadside assistance company, your insurance company) can look at it for you. You have the power to say NO. You have the RIGHT to get honest service. And if you get taken advantage of such as I had, the Better Business Bureau and your state’s Auto Repair Department of Consumer Repairs (here's the link to California's page). If everyone reports fraud we can all lower insurance rates and stop others from being taken advantage of.

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