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Tesla-recommended repair shop increased parts price 20% after estimate, same parts, 80% more total cost

Keefe

Member
Jun 25, 2021
8
3
Colorado Springs, CO
Could I get some advice on dealing with this Tesla-recommended repair shop that seems to be pulling a bait-and-switch?

I recently did some minor damage to my Model 3 requiring replacement of the bumper cover and and a rocker molding. The local Tesla service center recommended a local auto body shop that they regularly use themselves. The body shop looked the car over and gave me a printed estimate for the repairs, which detailed the part numbers and prices, about $830 for the numbered parts, plus labor and materials. I agreed to it, and they ordered the parts. A couple weeks later when the parts had arrived at the shop, I brought my car in for them to do the repairs.

This is an out-of-pocket repair, as the cost is too low compared to my insurance deductible and the damage occurred in two separate incidents.

A couple days later, with my car in the shop, they called me with an update. Some of the previously estimated labor items were found to be unnecessary, as the rocker panel behind the molding wasn't actually damaged, so they were saving me money I thought. I requested an updated estimate, which they emailed me.

The new estimate listed the same parts and part numbers (as expected, as I still wanted the molding replaced), but with the total parts price jacked up by about $650! Specifically, they increased the prices for each part by about 20% on average, increased the quantity of support parts (clips and rivets) beyond what's actually to be used, apparently to meet Tesla order minimums, and added a $350 shipping charge that wasn't originally quoted.

All of those things should've been known up front when I agreed to have them order the parts. This isn't a matter of newly discovered additional damage. They didn't inform me of any changes to the parts cost when I dropped off my car, at which point they had all the parts in hand and knew what they were going to charge me for them.

Now that they have the parts, and my car, and have already begun the repairs, I feel stuck. If I had known that they would charge another $650 on top of the printed estimate just for the parts that were originally planned for, I'd have gotten estimates from other shops. What do I do now? What leverage do I have?
 

TLLMRRJ

Active Member
Dec 19, 2019
2,012
1,997
Houston
Sounds like you're stuck if you gave them your car to start work without an updated quote in hand.

Body shops are experts at screwing everyone. They often do the bait and switch to insurance companies by quoting a repair below the total amount, start work, and then raise the repair costs after too much work has been done and money consumed to total it.

So bottom line is they probably out-smarted you because they do this for a living and you don't.

You can ask, but if they tell you to pound sand, about all you can do is bitch and moan and threated social media on them.
 
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Keefe

Member
Jun 25, 2021
8
3
Colorado Springs, CO
Did you ask them why the increase and show them the original quote?

Along with the new quote was a clear breakdown/comparison in the form of a supplemental, that showed the old and new prices for each item. So they're being very clear about the screwing.

This is the only communication so far, emails:
Me: "Woah, the cost of the originally planned parts went up by $300? And $356 for shipping not originally planned for? Were the parts rushed? What's the added labor for the front storage compartment for?"
Them: "Shipping is charged to us for all parts from Tesla, the front frunk has to come out in order to get the bumper off pf the car to access the electrical components up front"

I didn't mention the extra ~$80 of labor for pulling the frunk in my original post. Although I feel that should've been known up front as well, I'd let that slide if that were the only thing they added.

I'm trying to decide how hard to push the issue before they finish the work. They have a good reputation, according to Google reviews, but maybe it's best to wait until I'm satisfied with the work before giving them more grief about the parts/shipping prices?
 
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Keefe

Member
Jun 25, 2021
8
3
Colorado Springs, CO
Your thread title says they increased the price 80% but your text says they increased the price 20% each part. Which is it?

80% is the overall increase in the cost of parts (incl shipping), from $828 to $1484. The breakdown is $170 increase (from $800 to $970, so a bit more than 20%) in the main parts (bumper cover, absorber, rocker molding), $130 in extra quantities of clips and rivets (from $28 to $158) that presumably are just going into the shop's stock bin at my expense, and $356 for shipping that I wasn't informed of in advance (should've been built into the parts prices IMO).
 
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jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,330
11,672
Riverside Co. CA
(moderator note)

I edited the thread title slightly, because when I read it originally It read like the parts were 80% more expensive. The parts were 20% more expensive but the total job cost is 80% more from your explanation.
 

Keefe

Member
Jun 25, 2021
8
3
Colorado Springs, CO
To me, it's like when stuff is listed on eBay as $50 with "free" shipping vs $20 plus $30 shipping. I only care about the net cost to get it in my hand, $50.

The shop knew up front whether the shipping cost was built into the quoted prices or not. They said the repair would cost me $828 for parts and $X for labor/paint. Then once they have my car, they said the repair would cost me $1484 for parts and $X for labor/paint (ignore the adjustments in labor).

Whether they had to order extra clips to use on the next customer's Tesla car, or failed to consider their cost to get the parts in hand, shouldn't be my problem or cost me extra.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,330
11,672
Riverside Co. CA
To me, it's like when stuff is listed on eBay as $50 with "free" shipping vs $20 plus $30 shipping. I only care about the net cost to get it in my hand, $50.

The shop knew up front whether the shipping cost was built into the quoted prices or not. They said the repair would cost me $828 for parts and $X for labor/paint. Then once they have my car, they said the repair would cost me $1484 for parts and $X for labor/paint (ignore the adjustments in labor).

Whether they had to order extra clips to use on the next customer's Tesla car, or failed to consider their cost to get the parts in hand, shouldn't be my problem or cost me extra.

Im not disagreeing with you at all. I feel like they should have told you about that up front. Sorry if my other post sounded like I was disagreeing, that wasnt the intention. I just wanted to have the thread title reflect what you were saying.

My personal opinion is, the job got smaller (because something was not needed, per your description) but they wanted to find some way to charge you for the diagnostic stuff they did, as well as pump the price of the job up some. They are not used to people caring about this stuff, because "insurance is paying" especially on a tesla job.

I would likely wait for them to finish, then when I went in person, ask to speak to the manager to work on either reducing, or getting rid of, that shipping charge. Thats your best angle, to me anyway, although I am not a lawyer, nor did I stay in a holiday inn express last night (lol).
 

LionXng

Member
Mar 4, 2020
282
410
Virginia
Body shops ALWAYS under estimate and then up-charge insurance. Insurance companies actually like that because they get some people dumb enough to take the money up front which is way less than the actual cost to repair.

You are paying out of pocket so it is different, but generally there is a signature line saying you approve up to this much additional charge without additional approval after you get an estimate. You are definitely getting screwed. State clearly you think they should honor the prices originally listed. When they say no, record all of this for small claims court. They have your car and have you by a barrel so you are not going to win short term but you can win later.
 

Unclenapolean

Member
Jan 27, 2020
15
4
Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
Just my two cents here. As a logistics professional, I know that freight costs have gone up exponentially from pre-pandemic times. As an example, a 20 ft. shipping container to Europe, pre-pandemic, was $2500.00 for the container use and the ocean shipping. That same container now costs $6500.00 and up. Fuel costs alone have gone up 30% in just the past 3 months.

There is also a shortage of truck drivers, as many independent owner/operators left the business for other jobs because freight shipments dropped off the cliff when manufacturing closed down or cut back across the nation during the pandemic. There is a great deal of freight that moves across our country via independent truckers and they depend on back to back to back loads to make ends meet.

Chances are very good that the freight rates used for the first quote were based on past history, and when the parts were shipped, that's when they found out what the true freight cost was. I'm sure they don't order Tesla parts on a regular basis, so they were no doubt as surprised as you on the cost for shipping.

Then we get to the parts cost. In the US, as well as globally, supply chains during and after the pandemic have, and are, being taxed because of supply and demand. An example is computer chips for cars. Car manufacturers stopped or reduced production because of the virus impacting employees and with the expectation that car sales would plummet. So, because car makers work on a "just in time" parts delivery system, they canceled or cut back on their orders of computer chips.

Because of that, chip manufacturers switched over to making chips for laptops, gaming systems, and cell phones, to keep their manufacturing lines running. However, car sales didn't plummet as expected and car manufacturers ramped production back up to pre-pandemic levels, but the cars they've made sit in parking lots all around the factories unfinished because they don't have the computer chips that they need to finish them (many cars have more than 5 chips in them) because chip manufacturers had already committed their production lines to other industries.

Tesla is in the same boat when it comes to supply chains. Raw materials (commodities) for parts cost more and shipping those materials costs more and all these added costs eventually get added to the cost of the finished product. It all boils down to supply and demand. As a car maker, I'd rather put my parts on a new car I'm making then send them to an auto body shop, because the margins are better. Unless, of course, I can get a premium for those parts from the auto body shop.

Finally, as the owner of the parts they are removing, ask for them back after removal. They're your parts and you may be able to sell them as salvage. The same goes for those "extra" clips and rivets. You paid for them, they're yours, whether they use them or not, don't let them be ordering parts for their bins on your dime.

Considering the above factors, and with the expectation that the body shop doesn't order Tesla parts very frequently so their parts prices may not have been updated, and that you accepted a written estimate for the work, which gives you some legal standing, I believe that you have some room for negotiation on the cost for the repair.

Don't expect to recoup the whole difference, but you may be able to come to a fair settlement. If they won't budge on the price(s), then your only recourse is legal action, but read thoroughly any documents they ask you to sign when they release the car back to you. There may be some legalese protecting them from any legal action once you accept the car back from them tucked in the paperwork somewhere.



(moderator note: Added paragraph spacing as post was extremely difficult to read without it. No other changes made to content)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Keefe

Member
Jun 25, 2021
8
3
Colorado Springs, CO
Thanks Unclenapolean for your perspective on the industry.

Chances are very good that the freight rates used for the first quote were based on past history, and when the parts were shipped, that's when they found out what the true freight cost was. I'm sure they don't order Tesla parts on a regular basis, so they were no doubt as surprised as you on the cost for shipping.
I don't really know how often this shop orders parts from Tesla, but considering the Tesla service center sends them any body work (including bumper cover replacement, so presumably all paint work), both warranty-covered and not (by recommending them to customers in the latter case), I'm guessing they order parts from Tesla frequently.

Finally, as the owner of the parts they are removing, ask for them back after removal. They're your parts and you may be able to sell them as salvage. The same goes for those "extra" clips and rivets. You paid for them, they're yours, whether they use them or not, don't let them be ordering parts for their bins on your dime.
I'll probably ask for the replaced parts. It had crossed my mind before, but am not sure it's worth the hassle of keeping big stuff around (not even sure I could fit the old bumper cover in the back of my car) or hoping someone else wants damaged parts (it's possible though, as the bumper cover wasn't destroyed, just couldn't be made to look new).

The extra clips and rivets though, I'll definitely insist they not charge me. Or if I must, I'll take the extras and try to flip on eBay. BTW, the original estimate listed 12 rivets and 10 clips, which is what I assume the shop's system listed as needed to install the bumper cover and rocker molding. The supplemental bumped that up to 50 each with a note that that's Tesla's MOQ.

Don't expect to recoup the whole difference, but you may be able to come to a fair settlement. If they won't budge on the price(s), then your only recourse is legal action, but read thoroughly any documents they ask you to sign when they release the car back to you. There may be some legalese protecting them from any legal action once you accept the car back from them tucked in the paperwork somewhere.
I didn't sign anything when they gave me the initial estimate, but I did sign some stuff when I dropped off the car. I'm pretty sure that didn't include the supplemental, but probably had language to cover the possibility of hidden damage. I've asked for a copy to review.

Thanks for the warning about the final paperwork too.
 

flexnix

Member
May 4, 2021
14
6
Miami, Florida
Sounds to me like price escalations due to worldwide shortages. We're experiencing the same thing in my industry (construction). Metal has gone through the roof, etc. We're even seeing it happen for equipment, and material that has nothing to do with metal/wood.
 

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