Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Cosmetically Expensive

Just like cosmetic surgery is expensive so is fixing cosmetic damage to luxury items. A car can be said to be such an item.

Today I opted to drop into the PC store while I was out and pick up the cheap neoprene case I wanted which was only £6.99 and not worth paying shipping and delivery on.

So getting to the store I notice only one disabled bay empty but the car in the next space was parked crooked and over into the last space slightly and the passenger had the door open fully into the remaining bay. Turning into the space I parked as far left as possible given the stupid concrete bollards that the store in their infinite wisdom placed at the very edge of the bay.

After seeing me struggle to get out, as I need to fully open my door because of my disability, the passenger decided to reluctantly close her fully open door to allow me to get out. Entering the store I took note that said car had no disabled badge and was being used as a pick up area when the actual pick up area, larger than the bay, was available two spaces away and totally clear.

But I digress.


Going into the store I find the case I want, pay for it and head outside. The other driver is trying to squeeze a smaller sized fridge into his boot and just as I get into my car he shoots out the space taking off at a dangerous speed. Shaking my head I check my mirrors and begin to reverse out. Suddenly my Mum yells stop just as I hear a screeching sound. Braking immediately I drive back into the bay. My Mum goes to open her door and can just about fit through the small gap that she can open before the door sticks.

She looks at the damage and seeing her face my heart drops. Taking a deep breath I get out my seat and make my way around my car.

The damage is very slight. The wheel arch part of the bodywork near the door jamp, where the door opens, is slightly caved in under the door wing. Hence we couldn't open the door more than slightly before hitting it. No damage to the paintwork except a couple of tiny scratches of red paint from the bollard undercoat. The bollard is dark grey, undercoat red as other scratches already on bollard show.

Believing it just needs popped out so the door can open fully from where it caved under door opening.

We drive to a quieter area and phone home hoping that my Dad knows a near by bodywork or rather panel beater. He has no idea and asks why we don't go ask the dealership we got it from. If nothing else they could pop the panel to allow access to the door until we can get it fixed. After all it's just slight cosmetic damage. I see much worse off cars driving around all the time.

The dealer body-shop took a look and said that the good news was it was only one single panel, the one on the passenger side front wheel arch, damaged, and the rest was OK and wouldn't need repair except for the small, rather tiny, scratches at the door hinge area of the front passenger door.

It could be fixed. I breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately it would cost between £200 to £300 to beat the panel back into shape. That alone could take a couple of days. Then another two days to fit it back onto the car and get it all sealed, fixed and all paint fixed up. Also the beating process would mean that the panel would need repainting afterwards to match the rest of the car.

Thnking it might be cheaper to buy a new panel and attach he checked hte PC and checked what Kia, my car manufacturer, would take for a totally new matching panel.

Good news, the new panel, would cost £110 and would match the car perfectly. The expensive part would be the time and labour to take off the old damaged panel and replace it with the new panel. Then fixing the small scratches left. As it would cost two days labour to do, that took the price up to around £530/£540 price tag.

As my excess is £300, I would have to pay that leaving around £200+ left to charge my insurance company. By all rights the body-shop believed that it shouldn't affect my no claims discount or future premiums. But I opted that it wasn't worth taking the chance for less than £250 which would be the cost over the excess I have to pay.

My car was vandalised a couple of years ago, the window was panned in during a mini crime spree by a group of bored teenagers during a snow storm of all things, and after the £100 excess for window damage was paid the insurance company picked up the rest of the tab. It wasn't supposed to affect either my NCB or my premiums my insurance soared up the next time it was up for renewal. This claim would be larger so I don't trust it wouldn't affect my insurance which is expensive enough as is.

For a total bill of £500 which they said they'd do if for if we went cash payments, after we chose that for less than £250 over the excess we could pay out of pocket rather than mess around with insurance claims. When we opted to pay for the repairs rather than go through my insurance policy the body-shop instead said they'd do it for £500 even then.

I suppose going through insurance companies to get the rest of the money when claims are made take extra time for them to get their money and can make it more expensive for them. Less time and expense when cash or out of pocket payments. Hence the money off for cash repairs over going through insurance claims.

All in all, no damage to make the car unsafe or unusable, but cosmetic damage just like cosmetic surgery seems to be an expensive purchase.

The problem is that with the new cars as a safety feature on collision or accident they are built to cave in safely to keep any damage or danger to drivers and passengers at a minimum. Unfortunately, as the body-shop told me it means that little or no pressure activates the collapse and also make replacement and/or repairs very expensive. In fact replacements are much more financially sound than attempting to fix these damages.

My one real comfort is that it was a victimless accident. While I feel embarrassment and like an idiot. Only my dignity, such as it is, was hurt. Nothing unusual there. No physical or emotional damage to either myself or my passenger or any other party. I will take cosmetic, or even mechanical, damage to the vehicle any day before any person.

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