Oh Deer, I hit a... Guardrail?

Saturday, December 10, 2011
A few weeks ago at Thanksgiving a guardrail jumped out in front of my car! How rude!!!

Granted, it had just started raining... and I was taking a turn a bit too fast... and I was trying to beat a yellow light...... but I stand firm in that it was the guardrail's fault!

OK, fine, it was my fault.

While making a left hand turn onto a feeder road in Austin I lost control of my car and hit the guardrail that was on the left side of the road. (Coincidentally enough it hit in the exact same place on the car where just two years ago I hit a deer.) I ended up facing the wrong way on the one-way feeder road in the striped no-man's-land. Thankfully no other cars were involved. Here are some true-life crime scene photos, click to see full size.

As you can see in the photos there was minimal damage to both my car and the guardrail. The bumper is broken, a few of the brackets that hold the grill on are broken, and the right turn signal was burnt out. Oh, and my license plate came off, and not three days later a Small Town Texas cop pulled me over for not having a front license place.

Anywho, minimal damage was sustained for my sin of trying to beat the yellow light and I figured I might as well go ahead and get it fixed. I take pride in my vehicle; It is paid off (I OWN IT BABY!) so I always want it looking clean, sharp, and all together not broken. So last week I took it to two local shops to get an estimate to get it fixed. The "Mom and Pop" shop (name withheld) quoted me $675, and the local chain Caliber Collision Repair quoted me $625.

Now you can debate if it is worth spending more than $600 to fix a bumper (most of the quoted cost is for two parts which totaled $450 in each quote), but I decided that I would take the hit (call it a Stupid Tax) and get it fixed.

Day 1: Thursday, December 8th. I took my car in and dropped it off at 8:30 AM (which is LONG before the time I usually wake up). My mechanic said that there was a problem with my quote, that one of the parts would be $50 more than he quoted me. I flat out told him that I chose them because they were $50 cheaper than another estimate, but there wasn't much I could do at that point. So I dropped off my car and I had a coworker pick me up and take me to church so I could work all day.

Fast forward a few hours. I knew Caliber closes at 5:30 PM, so when I still hadn't heard from them by 5:00 I started calling them. On my first call I was told that the guy in charge of my car would call me back. By 5:40 I was still waiting, so I called again, but because the office was closed I got sent to the chain's central office. The nice lady there said that she would try calling the local shop's back line, and I finally got in touch with my mechanic.

He said that they received the wrong part (I am not sure whose fault that was) and that the correct part just came in so it wouldn't be ready that day and he would call me in the morning when it was ready. Not a huge problem, I had someone take me home.

Day 2: Friday, December 9th. I didn't have anything specific planned all day long, so I wasn't too worried about not having a car. But as it was getting late into the day I still hadn't heard from my mechanic, so around 5:15 I once again start calling him. The first call wasn't answered, on the second call the receptionist said "He is out making a delivery, let me get you someone who might be able to help." She sends me over to another mechanic that says the same thing, "I think he is out, let me get him on the radio. [hold music while he gets him on the radio] Yes, he is out on a delivery, he will call you when he gets back." So I waited.

And I waited.

But I never got a call back.

Day 3: Saturday, December 10th. Had to work at the church (Christmas Pageant rehearsal) so I had someone pick me up. I was thinking I would call Caliber during the day, but the guy picking me up said something and it jogged my memory: Caliber Collision Repair is closed on weekends!

After the Pageant rehearsal I had my friend drive me by the shop. I had hoped that Jackie (my Jeep) would be sitting out front and, because I had an extra set of keys, I could just drive it away (fixed or not fixed). But sadly I didn't see it, it must have been around back behind barbed wire.

So let's get this straight: I come in for a super simple repair job, one that which your quote says will only take 3.7 hours to fix, and all of a sudden my car is taken away from me for no less than FOUR DAYS? I don't know how my mechanic guy gets to work, but I am a freelance videographer! I have to drive places! I have things to do and places to go, and you have taken my vehicle from me because you refused to return my phone calls?!?!?

Now I will say: I know there are many people out there that don't have the luxury of having a vehicle, and there are people that lose their vehicles or the use of their vehicle for various reasons. This rant really isn't about me not having a car, it is about some nitwit who didn't want to call me back so now I have to bum a ride off of friends! To put it another way: He took something of mine and, because of bad customer service, won't give it back when he promised (twice) he would.

Oh, and he is sure darned lucky that I didn't have a freelance job this weekend or I would have been up a creek without my Jeep!

So if you can't tell, I am pretty livid at Caliber Collision Repair right now. Like I said, it really isn't putting me out much outside of having to ask for a few favors, but we live in an era where people commute to work, and to take away someone's transportation for FOUR DAYS so that you can work on it 3.7 hours is inexcusable.

Keep checking back as I will update this post as the story continues. I will be giving them a mouthful on Monday, we will see if they return my calls at that point.

UPDATE: Instead of continuing the story here I decided to split it into another post. You can now read about it here: The Guardrail Saga, Part 2.

UPDATE UPDATE: You can read the next (and hopefully final) chapter here.



Jared said...

That sucks man, if I where you, I would insist they charge you the original price for the inconvenience of taking so long. It's pretty sad.

Matt said...

Yup, absolutely give them a mouthful. You have every right at this point to take your car back and not pay them a dime, because they broke the verbal contract they made with you. They are not allowed to impound/confiscate/impound or hold hostage your vehicle if they haven't done any work on it. Infuriating!