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SMART repair nightmares

jamiekip May 13, 2008

  1. jamiekip

    jamiekip Guest

    Hi everyone,

    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!!!

  2. PaulAr

    PaulAr S3 (8P)

    Thats a useful heads up for me as Im from the North East. Fortunately my S3 is incident free so far, but I have a terrible track record for my cars picking up dings and scratches for a variety of reasons, none of which being my fault I might add!
    Drop me a PM with the outfit that you had the problems with and I can bare this mind for the future.
    Anyway, Im pleased you got sorted in the end.

  3. Staz

    Staz is a retronaut Moderator VCDS Map User

    Christ Jamie! I bet you were devastated!

    Yes you can see the extent from the pictures mate.

    As you may know some idiot hit me recently and damaged my wing. I have spent the last 2 weeks driving about and the dent being there visible to anyone was always on my mind. I can't imagine spending all that time thinging about that though!

    Incidently I got a quote for the repairs from a guy I trust in Bedford but had no time to get it done there. I am now visiting my mum in north Wales and have had to book it into the VW garage at Wrexham for repairs (the closest Audi approved body shop). It's a long way from here but I didn't want to take the risk getting it done from one of the many body shops closer by. The price is 2 thirds more than the quote from the guy in Bedford but I didn't want to end up in the situation you've been in.

    I'm glad you got though it in the end.
  4. d3fy

    d3fy Active Member

    I have used ChipsAway before to repair a scratch and the guy did a fantastic job, a mate at work used the same company different guy and they did a terriable job, and he was back about a dozen times. It all comes down to the people doing the job IMO.
  5. jamiekip

    jamiekip Guest

    Devastated didn't quite cover it!
    Like everyone on here I take pride in my car and for someone to do this to it was inexcusable in my book!
    Fortunately, from a distance you wouldn't know or if it was dirty you wouldn't spot it.... but every time I gave it a wash it made my blood boil!

    Anyway - I got to a happy resolution in the end!!
  6. Staz

    Staz is a retronaut Moderator VCDS Map User

    It certainly is. I have met many people in my job who do the same job for the same pay and for the same time as someone else. Some are better than others. Especially when it's a skill involving the hands. I could learn to do loads of jobs but I could never be a dent removal bloke or an artist or metalsmith or anything that involves skills with the hands. The difference is that I KNOW I can't do those thing, others don't realise they're **** and are in the wrong job.
  7. RichC

    RichC RAC 500W

    Im really glad its all sorted for you now, i hate things like that, especially when i, like most on here, take good care of my car.

    I had a SMART repair done on my current car when a white van man decided to catch my rear bumper and ive got to say im pretty happy with the result, it literally is just look of the draw like you said.

  8. SteveTDCi

    SteveTDCi Active Member

    glad you have it sorted now, but that looked sooo rough, it looks like you can see orange peel in the original repair and how the heel the managed to lose the laquer that far up i'll never know ! I'd only ever have dent removed by smart repair, anything else i'd use a bodyshop - I don't see how you can paint dust free in the middle of a car park. There's never anything more upsetting thant having a car with damage, glad the story has a happy ending :)
  9. marriedblonde

    marriedblonde Active Member

    Oh **** I've got chips-a-way coming to sort out my front bumper after the on-site valeter scrape it against a pilar parking ip up after washing it!

    Maybe I should think twice and just cough up to get the whole bumper sprayed...

    Glad you got it sorted out though matey.

  10. markwiggy

    markwiggy Third Gear

    Nightmare Jamie !!

    Glad it's sorted mate.

  11. Staz

    Staz is a retronaut Moderator VCDS Map User

    I went to collect my car today after they have repaired the damaged wing and I wasn't impressed. The damage repair is 100% perfect but there is a tiny lump in the paint, a bit of dirt apparently under the top layer. Also the colour of the entire wing looked different to the other 2 panels on the side.

    He argued that all the panels look different bacuse of the paint but I wasn't having any of it.

    He also said that it's impossible to match a paint perfectly, especially pearlescent, I agreed but reminded him it is my 3 week old 30k car and he conceeded.

    They've kept it now and are going to sort it tomorrow morning (I hope) and give me some money off.

    This is from the Audi approved body shop, and it just shows it can happen to anyone.

    Just make sure you contest it there and then.
  12. jamiekip

    jamiekip Guest

    Interesting they say they can't get a perfect match.
    I was told that they can pretty much match any paint colour. I was told the challenges come from different base materials. ie, the colour may be a perfect match when put on to metal, but not quite right on plastic. Though the guy I dealt with at Audi West London outlined that this was their problem not mine!!! They get their approved status based on the ability to get cars back to 'as new' condition.

    Stick with them Staz - don't settle for anything less than perfect!

    I'm in the process of getting my car booked in with Paul Dalton @ Miracle Detail - he owes me a favour after I got him some coverage in a publication recently!
    Looking forward to that!!!
  13. Staz

    Staz is a retronaut Moderator VCDS Map User

    Hmm well I accepted that it being pearlescent makes it harder.

    I plan to! If I'm still not happy I'll ask them to either drop the price off enough for me to pay for it to be done elsewhere or I'll have to take it back when I'm next on leave. To be honest if I hadn't have known then I wouldn't have noticed there was a difference. It is a very good job and a very close match, but it's not enough for me.

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