The Risks of Working With Auto Hail Repair Storm Chasers
November 24th, 2021 by Dingz Happen |
Posted in Hail Damage |
You may have heard the term “storm chasers” or “hail chasers,” but have you ever wondered exactly what they are and how they operate? We’re going to take a look into the industry so you can find out everything you need to know to protect yourself against potential scams.
Hail chasers are those in the auto dent repair industry who arrive in towns shortly after a bad hail storm. They know hail season is prime time for work, and there are likely many hail damaged cars that are in need of repair in an area where inclement weather passes through. They’ll show up at your door and offer to fix your car’s hail damage, often for “free” or a low price.
On the surface, this may be a tempting offer. Not only will they come to you to repair your hail dents, but you may not even have to pay anything out of pocket!
Before you get too excited, though, it’s important to be cautious and know what you might be getting into when working with a storm chaser vs. a local PDR hail shop.
The Potential Risks
While there are some storm chasing companies that do great work and truly do want to help you fix your car with dent repair services at a fair price, there are also predatory paintless dent removal companies that take advantage of those in need of storm damage hail repair after severe weather has passed through.
Below you’ll find the most common potential problems and signs to watch out for when it comes to identifying and working with hail chasers. Keep this information in mind the next time a hailstorm, high winds, or natural disasters damage your vehicle and think twice before you agree to any repairs.
If someone shows up at your door offering hail damage repair for your vehicle shortly after a hail storm has blown through, the chances are they’re a storm chaser. They may utilize a variety of tactics to convince you to repair your car quickly, and will often use high-pressure tactics to get you to agree to commission them on the spot.
There are several tactics to watch for that may tip you off to the fact that you may be dealing with a less-than-reputable individual. One common tactic is to claim they’re with a local reputable paintless dent repair company and they’re going door to door to offer quick service at a discounted rate. They may ask you if you’ve contacted any local dent repair companies and received any quotes, and will then offer to undercut the quotes in the hopes to win your business over.
If you’ve noticed any vacant warehouse or shop spaces that suddenly have temporary signage outside indicating hail dent repair services after a storm has passed through, you’re likely looking at a storm chasing company that has set up shop for anywhere from one to several months. You may find flyers on your door or on your cars windshield wiper advertising their services, but similar caution should be applied before choosing to work with these temporary shops. While many may be legitimate, it doesn’t take much for anyone to rent these vacant spaces for a short lease.
Requiring a Down Payment
Hail chasers may ask you to make a down payment for the work you have contracted them to do. In some cases, they may even ask you to pay in full before the work is completed. They will give you any excuse to get you to do this because their ultimate goal is to get your money and either do shoddy work or disappear without rendering service.
Asking for Cash
Some hail chasers may try to convince you to skip the insurance company all together. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage you would need to pay out of pocket for hail repair costs, and they would be happy to take your cash.
If you do have full coverage, your car will be covered minus your deductible. However, these chasers may tell you that a claim will raise your insurance rates (in many cases your insurance will stay the same because these types of damages are considered not-at-fault incidents).
If you do choose to skip going through the insurance company and want to work with a storm chaser, your best bet would be to use a credit card so you have some protection (through chargebacks, etc.) if they fail to deliver on their promises. However, this can be a hassle as you’ll need to work with your credit card company to recover your funds.
Promises of Cheap & Fast Repair
While reputable local paintless dent repair experts can usually have your hail damage repaired within a few days, surges in demand due to recent storms can add to turnaround time. Auto hail repair chasers take advantage of this fact and will try to convince you that their service will be faster and just as good. Those with integrity may be able to deliver on this promise, but many are only interested in making a quick buck at the expense of quality. For many, volume is the name of the game–the faster they can perform their work, the faster they can get to more vehicles and other affected cities. This can lead to corner-cutting and more damage that you’ll need to pay to fix.
Lack of Training
If you have repairs made by a person who shows up at your door claiming they can take care of your car’s storm damage, there’s a risk you’ll be working with someone who isn’t properly trained to follow best paintless dent repair practices. Because of this, they may actually cause more harm than good when working on your car. This can lead to further problems and headaches, and you may actually wind up spending much more than you might have saved.
Lack of Warranty
A storm chaser’s warranty is only as good for as long as they’re around. If they come through and vanish shortly after the repairs have been done but promised a warranty on their work, you may not be able to follow up with them if you need to.
If a repair service doesn’t plan on maintaining a presence in the area, they have less incentive to provide quality work because they know they won’t be around to honor their warranty. Whether you have a few minor dents or major hail dents on your vehicle, it’s good to know the work you receive is guaranteed.
Exaggerating & Inflicting Damage
While most storm chasers may travel from town to town with good intentions, there’s always a possibility a bad actor may go out of their way to cause more damage to vehicles with the intent of making more money. Two common strategies utilized are: inflicting more damage to your vehicle in the hopes of charging you more, or overquoting you if they know you won’t be/can’t make insurance claims.
As insurance agencies have become more aligned with paintless dent repair services, they have worked to stem the amount of fraudulent quotes provided by fly-by-night hail damage repair providers. With that said, there are many opportunities for the less honest to prey on unsuspecting victims.
While insurance fraud is more difficult than it used to be, it’s still possible… most upstanding citizens and service providers most likely wouldn’t commit insurance fraud as that can be a serious crime, but there are always those who are will to take the risk, so it’s a good idea to act with caution and do your due diligence.
The Benefits of Working With a Local Repair Body Shop
While there are a lot of risks when it comes to working with hail chasers, they aren’t all bad. There are quite a few traveling dent repair companies that have integrity and take pride in their work. It’s unfortunate that there are individuals and companies who would rather prey on those in need to make a quick buck.
The best way to prevent potentially being scammed is to work with a reputable local repair shop. There are many benefits to this approach, which are outlined below.
Local & Reputable
Local paintless dent repair companies are members of the community and have a vested interest in providing quality work and customer service to ensure each client is happy with the repairs performed. Poor service and low-quality paintless dent removal can hurt a local company’s reputation, which can cause them to lose work next hail season. Because of this, they have much more incentive to do the job right and back their work.
Quality Work & Honest Prices
A powerful hail storm can cause a lot of damage to your vehicle(s), so the last thing you need is a dishonest auto hail repair storm chaser trying to make an extra buck by taking advantage of your situation. A local, established dent repair technician will give you an honest quote, and they can work with your insurance company to get you the repairs you need with the quality you deserve at a fair price.
Storm chasing companies and individuals may close up shop and move to the next area that’s received severe weather without notice, so it’s a good idea to work with a knowledgeable technician who will be there long after the storms have passed. When it comes to customer service, local shops are a much safer bet.
Choose a Reputable PDR Specialist
In addition to hail damage, natural disasters such as a hurricane or tornado can bring high winds that can throw debris which can also damage your car. Whether you need hail damage repair or debris damage repair, a local Paintless Dent Repair shop is likely your best option.
If you have insurance with coverage that allows you to make insurance claims, you can rest easier knowing a local repair shop can help you with all of your hail damage repair needs at a fair price.
If you’re in Austin, TX or the surrounding area and have a car in need of dent repair or hail damage repair, contact Dingz Happen to get a free quote today. We’re a local paintless dent repair shop with a great reputation because we take great pride in our work, and our only goal is your complete satisfaction. Whether your car has received minor dents from a recent hailstorm or your car has been heavily damaged, we have the experience you can count on when it comes to making hail damaged cars look new again.
Click here to get a quote or call us at 512-968-2318 to schedule a meeting!