CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte auto repair shop is facing allegations from customers that it’s damaging vehicles in order to drive up the cost to fix them. The North Carolina Department of Insurance confirms it is also investigating a similar complaint filed by an insurance company against Charlotte Body & Paint.
WBTV first started looking into Charlotte Body & Paint after a tip from a customer.
“We spoke with State Farm and they determined, basically, that these people put more damages on the car when it was in their possession,” Virgil Hardeman told WBTV.
Hardeman says he was hit from behind in a minor fender bender. The very next day he says he received a text message from an employee at Charlotte Body & Paint.
“She stated to me that State Farm told her to call me,” Hardeman said.
After dropping off the car and getting a rental Hardeman says they returned about a week later to get some of their belongings out of the trunk. That’s when he says he noticed additional damage to the car.
“The back light, the camera and a little bit more stuff is on the estimate but we’re wondering why that was on the estimate,” Hardeman said.
“That wasn’t damaged when we brought the car to you.”
Two other Charlotte Body & Paint customers made similar allegations against Charlotte Body & Paint in complaints filed with the North Carolina Department of Justice.
One woman wrote the NCDOJ that a side-view mirror was broken while she was waiting on the repair and that the “Company (Charlotte Body & Paint) tried to get the insurance adjustor to pay for the broken mirror but was denied since the damage did not occur from the accident.”
Another person wrote the Allstate adjuster contacted him saying “there were added damages to (the) car that didn’t seem like it pertained to the car accident.”
Additionally, all of the customers say they never contacted Charlotte Body & Paint but instead the company contacted them. Hardeman and one other customer told WBTV that Charlotte Body and Paint claimed to be in contact with the insurance company already. But Hardeman says a State Farm agent later told him that wasn’t the case.
A fraud investigator for the North Carolina Department of Insurance says they are investigating a complaint filed by an insurance company against Charlotte Body & Paint. The dispute is over the total cost of the repair and the amount of hours worked.
Repair bills obtained by WBTV show Charlotte Body & Paint quoted more 30 hours of repairs for vehicles that were in minor fender benders.
Charlotte Body & Paint is managed by Mai Hoang and Son Doan according to state records. WBTV was able to get in contact with Doan but he refused to do an on-camera interview.
Doan denied that his business is further damaging cars after they’re brought in for repairs.
“We don’t do that stuff here,” Doan said.
Doan also denied that they tell customers they’ve already been in contact with the insurance companies. However, he admitted that they get copies of crash reports from local police departments to contact crash victims and tell them about their shop.
Hardeman’s crash report shows the police officer estimated there was $200 of damage to the vehicle. The officer also marked the speed of the car that hit Hardeman at just 5 mph.
But the estimate from State Farm shows something very different.
Charlotte Body & Paint submitted a repair bill of $3,401. Hardeman and his wife say they received the reimbursement from State Farm but refuse to pay for the damages they believe were done by Charlotte Body & Paint.
When reached for comment a State Farm spokesperson wrote “The vehicle owner chose to utilize this facility, and we are not a party to the relationship or current allegations the customer has with the repairer.”