Mods - feel free to move this to where you see appropriate.
I thought I'd share the experience I've had over the last 6 months relating to a SMART repair gone wrong.
For those that don't know, a SMART repair is a process whereby simple dents and chips can be repaired without the need for expensive re-sprays. They work on the local area to remove virtually any trace of the chip/dent. I have had this done in the past without incident!
So, in December '07, my car was hit by a rogue beer bottle courtesy of some xmas reveller not realising my car was parked on the other side of a wall.
The car was hit by the beer bottle just in front of the fuel filler neck and received a light dent and a chip.
As you can see, it was fairly small, though admittedly in a tricky area. I contacted a SMART specialist that was recommended to me. I explained the issue and I was advised that it seemed straight forward enough. The SMART repairer was based near my parents in the North East and advised they would need the car for just the day. It was booked in.
I returned at the end of the day when it was dark, so didn't get a chance to have a quick look until the next day. It all appeared OK, bar what initially looked like bit's of over spray.
I washed the car a few days later and noticed what can be best described as dirt embedded within the paint. I was confused at this stage to say the least as the area where I say this was near the door shuts and at the top of the C pillar - miles from the area they were working on.
I called the SMART repairer and he suggested popping the car back down for them to look at. He took the car and proceeded to use a rotary polisher on the car for about an hour to try and remove the issue. I was then handed the car and told "I've done the best I can do".
Here's what I was left with:
Even the actual repair was bubbling through:
Hopefully the images highlight the state the car was in.
The paint had dirty streaks running all through the drivers side rear quarter panel from the roof to sills. After the polishing action parts of the top coat were burnt through. Under the window seals a big step was noticeable.
I asked to speak to the manager, who on sight of the car confessed he'd not seen anything like this and stated it clearly could not be the materials used, as he'd have had more cars back with the same issue.
I asked for the exact nature of the repair carried out to be explained to me.
Turns out, rather than a SMART repair, they had tried to prep, fill and re-paint the area.... in a day - for £160. Had this been explained to me I would never have given the go ahead Paint warranty on the car void!!!) for this level of work to be undertaken by a business specialising in SMART repairs.
To say I was annoyed was an understatement. What was initially a small problem had become a massive issue requiring a lot of work to repair.
The last 6 months have been stressful to say the least. Endless written correspondence, seeking advice from solicitors and advice from independent paint specialists to understand the best way to get the issue resolved. After much correspondence I was eventually able to build a strong enough case for the company to agree to have an Audi approved repairer carry out the repair.
The overall repair required the whole drivers side rear quarter panel to be prep'd (removing the bumper, side glass & all trims) and re-sprayed, side window replaced, all side trims replaced, paint blended in to the tailgate, rear bumper and drivers door.
The bill - £1,450.
This final repair was carried out through West London Audi, which I must say have been very helpful, patient and supportive in helping me get to a suitable resolution. The final repair is absolutely spot on - the car now looks back to show room spec.
What did I learn?
If you're getting a SMART repair, don't settle on a "yeah we can sort that out" approach. Ask them to outline EXACTLY how they propose to do the repair. Then you can gauge how comfortable you are with the approach and with who is doing it.
I'm not saying all SMART repairers are rubbish - i had a previous issue resolved (by the same company!) on a old car without issue and was very happy. BUT, they should know their limits and they should be upfront and clear when working on someones pride and joy.
I'm not going to name and shame the company in here, as they did eventually agree to fund the repair through Audi and I'm sure the bill incurred has taught them a valuable lesson.
However, if anyone in the North East is considering visiting a SMART repairer they can ask me if it's the one they are considering.
Hopefully no one else will have the same issue I've had!!!