The News4 I-team has found cases around the D.C. area of roving car repairmen who approach consumers in parking lots. Here's what you need to know.
Sloppy paint jobs. Dents made even deeper. Even a bumper with a new hole.
Car repair flubs not at your local body shop, but at your local grocery store parking lot.
“I think my first instinct was this is very creepy," says Pattie Smith.
Smith called the News4 I-Team after two guys approached her at a Fairfax shopping center. "I had actually already pulled out when this person blocked me with his vehicle making hand signals for me to roll my window down,” Smith recalls. “I thought there was something wrong."
He told her he wanted to fix a small dent on her Escalade SUV, something she says would be hard for most people to even notice.
"I basically told him, ‘No. Get out of my way, I'm not interested.’"
She says the guys followed her out of the lot and snapped a cell phone pic of her car.
Weeks later, it happened again at a Vienna shopping center with two different guys. Smith says, “I do believe they're canvassing these people out."
The News4 I-team has found similar cases all around the D.C. area, not only Vienna and Fairfax but Gaithersburg, Bethesda and Silver Spring.
Doug Numbers says these "roving repairmen" also tried to fix his car.
But they didn’t realize he’s an investigator with Montgomery County Consumer Protection.
"They're not going to fix your car properly," he says. “I do have cases where they're alleging that the guy actually dented the car in order to try and scam them to fix the repairs."
Numbers says most of these guys are not licensed, out to make a quick buck and will leave you with shoddy work. "They slather on polished compound to cover the fact that the paint doesn't match and the repairs aren't very good. And they'll tell you we'll be back tomorrow. Buff that off it will shine up and it will look real nice and it's not."
Numbers says they're targeting both men and women of all ages. "A consumer I recently had let them come to his house to do the work and that concerned me because he was elderly."
Consumer experts say there are legitimate mobile repairmen, but they have shops and make appointments. The experts agree these legit operations don’t approach customers in a parking lot.
Numbers warns if you're approached while out shopping this season, write down the tag number, call the police and don't agree to any work no matter how good the deal sounds.
"My big response is don’t do it."