Back-yard panel beater 'wrecks car'

HAVE you noticed how strict motor vehicle insurance companies are when it comes to who should tow in and repair your vehicle after it has been involved in an accident?

HAVE you noticed how strict motor vehicle insurance companies are when it comes to who should tow in and repair your vehicle after it has been involved in an accident?

The motor insurance companies demand compliance and if you don't they might not pay, no matter how genuine your claim is.

This is why it's important to use the service of their approved panel beaters.

These panel beaters are expected to render good and quality service, to put consumers in the position they were before the accident.

But some insurance companies will wash their hands off the matter even if consumers comply.

Sentle Lehoko complied with his insurance company, but for the past nine months he has been battling to get his Audi from the panel beater the company approved.

His nightmare started in January when his Audi was involved in an accident.

He notified First National Bank Insurance Brokers, who advised him to take his car to Dent Doctor in Randburg in Gauteng

"The car was taken in for a minor repair and it's now a wreck," Lehoko said.

"Dent Doctor left it with a back-yard panel beater and has not claimed payment from FNB Insurance Brokers."

Lehoko said the insurance company wanted to have the car written off, but agreed to have it repaired after he requested it.

The assessor and panel beater, Dent Doctor, agreed that the car was repairable.

Dent Doctor, without communicating with Lehoko or his insurance company, decided to outsource the service and sent the car to a back-yard panel beater.

It took them four months to "repair" the car.

The engine has packed up and no one wants to take responsibility.

In April Lehoko was told the car had been repaired and was ready to leave the workshop. The only problem that was mentioned was a malfunctioning immobiliser system. An auto electrician would be brought in to fix it, Lehoko was told.

He later discovered that his car had been driven and used by people other than those at Dent Doctor.

"It was repaired by a man called Clive in his back yard, where it was parked in the street with other vehicles that he was "fixing", Lehoko said.

"The engine was stripped, when all they should have attended to was the immobiliser," he said.

Dent Doctor later admitted the engine was damaged due to their negligence and offered to get a reconditioned one, but nothing of the sort has happened.

They have now washed their hands of the matter and have taken away the courtesy car they gave Lehoko.

"If Dent Doctor is an approved Audi panel beater, why has my car been at Clive's house for the past few months?"

Glen Calenborne of Dent Doctor refused to comment.

l Haremakale Ramakhetheng is another victim.

Her car was stripped while in the care of Dent Doctor and it did not bother to replace the headlights that were removed from her car without permission.

Ramakhetheng was involved in an accident in March this year.

Her car was towed to Dent Doctor in Midrand.

She was given a quotation of R38000, which included parts that were not damaged, such as the right headlight. Her car was subsequently written off and she was told to collect it.

She went to Dent Doctor and she said that she did not recognise he car.

Ramakhetheng had to pay R29000 to replace parts, including those that were stripped at Dent Doctor.

John Whitter of the Dent Doctor franchise said that their Midrand branch undertook to try and find a replacement headlamp lens for Ramakhetheng.

He also said Lehoko's complaint was unique.

"This is an exceptional situation where the engine failed while it was in Dent Doctor's possession," Whitter said.

He said Lehoko's car was repaired satisfactorily.

"But when the car was being driven to an auto electrician the engine stopped working and was found to be un-repairable," Whitter said.

"Dent Doctor has tried to help source another engine but has been unsuccessful.

"We advised Lehoko to contact the Retail Motor Industry or the AA for an independent professional assessment. Once he gets such a report, it will be possible to decide the best option available.

l Charlene Geustyn-Meyer of the FNB's insurer processing services said they were investigating why Dent Doctor had outsourced the service to another panel beater.