Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Dent in the Problem?
Tonight, a warning for car owners wanting to avoid a dent in their repair bills. If a person in a parking lot promises to fix your dings on the cheap, drive away. Fast. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- A car door.
A fallen tree limb.
Even the runaway shopping cart.
All can cause dings and dents to our cars, and they can be expensive to repair.
But beware: There are sharks cruising South Florida parking lots, looking to make a fast buck by offering to repair dents for a lot less than a repair shop would charge.
Debbie McDonald, Fuming: "I knew I'd been scammed. I just did."
Debbie McDonald is furious.
She is out $250 and says her car is in worse shape than when she hired a stranger to repair it.
She says a business card was left on her car in a Fort Lauderdale parking lot.
Thinking she was going to get a good deal on fixing several dings, she called the number on the card.
Debbie McDonald: "They came right out in a couple of hours to where I was working and said they could do it right on the spot, and they did."
But the repair was nothing more than some paste and wax on the dents, covered by spray paint that doesn't even match her car's color.
Debbie McDonald: "He said, 'Keep the wax on as long as you can. That'll make it set in better.' So I did what he told me, and of course, that gave him time to cash my check."
Debbie tried calling the number on the card to complain but no luck. No answer.
She contacted her auto detailer.
Carmel Cafiero, Investigative Reporter: "Have you seen them do a lot of damage to people here in South Florida?"
Simon Kopp, Bumper to Bumper Detailing: "Yeah, we get calls all the time, and I see it. I see it in parking lots."
Simon Kopp has been in the detailing business for 20 years. He says the fake fixes involve the use of a bonding material that can be difficult to remove.
Even worse, the work does not eliminate the original dings, which means repairs can end up costing more than ever.
Carmel Cafiero: "So how aggravating is this?"
Debbie McDonald: "It is very aggravating."
Simon Kopp: "These people need to be found, locked up or something. Something needs to be done."
Carmel Cafiero: "But this is no big law enforcement issue, so we need to watch out for ourselves. These con artists cruise shopping center parking lots every day looking for easy marks. Hire one, and you'll end up with a new dent: this time in your wallet."
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