How should we approach the person who dinged our car?
April 24, 2012 8:39 AM   Subscribe

While parked at day care, somebody dinged our car door (dent and through the paint scratch). We know who it was--what to do?

My wife called me earlier. She'd returned to the car at daycare to find a dent and scratch in the driver door consistent with the car next to it having opened their door corner right into ours. The lady was still sat in her car for some time and seemed to be looking at her. Rather than mention it to her (I would have politely just said, "Hey, I think you may have scratched our car") she called me and asked me what to do. By the time I found out what was going on, the lady had driven off.

Having missed the opportunity to speak to her then, we are in the difficult position of having (1) to find an opportunity to speak to her again and (2) lost the chance to say "look, your door opened and the corner hit us here" so it's difficult to prove.

We could drop it but it's annoying of course and we will probably end up having to get it fixed if we want to sell the car. How best should we approach this? If we see the car again, place a note? Wait by the car and say, "We think you did this". (And we think you know you did.)

I presume they should be able to do this on insurance. It feels awkward asking another parent at our daycare for money. It's a big daycare school and we don't know them. (There are lots of inconsiderate parkers here. I've seen moms open their doors onto my car too, it's just never left a mark until now.)

FWIW, it's a 2003 3 series BMW in otherwise good condition and very low mileage.
posted by NailsTheCat to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
Best answer: One thing you might want to do, just in case things go south, is ask the day care whether they have security cameras in the parking lot.
posted by box at 8:43 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did your wife actually see this lady ding it? Or can she say with all certainty that it wasn't there when she pulled into daycare? Is there a correlating scratch on the other car? That scratch could be consistent with about 10K other cars.
posted by timsteil at 8:44 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: timsteil: Those are pretty much the same questions I asked my wife as soon as she called. Let's say 98% sure it wasn't there before. And because they drove off, I don't know about the other car. (And even if there was they can get it fixed now.) Which is what makes it so difficult really. If she had witnessed it then I would have no qualms about confronting them.
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:01 AM on April 24, 2012

Response by poster: box: I shall ask this evening. I'm pretty sure they do. Thanks.

And thanks timsteil, too!
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:02 AM on April 24, 2012

Best answer: This is a situation with a lot of unpleasant social pitfalls to navigate for something you're not 100% certain of, especially considering it's trivial for the other person to say, when contacted by the insurance company, "I did not scratch that car" and you won't have any way to prove it.

And then you loathe each other but have to see each other at kids' parties.

posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:07 AM on April 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: A Terrible Llama: Eeeeeexaaactlty. If we had asked there and then it would have been easy. Now.... I think we're the cost of a door fill and spray out of pocket. Although perhaps security cameras might help--even then, it's very awkward.
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:24 AM on April 24, 2012

Your 'lots of inconsiderate parkers' statement leads me to believe you and/or your wife thought that the woman knew she did it but was denying responsibility when your wife saw her. There are other possibilities: she could have realized that she accidentally opened the door too hard but didn't think it left a mark, marks on the paint may not matter much to her on her own car, and she doesn't realize others feel differently. Don't automatically assume 'inconsiderate.' (what bearing that has on your decision, I don't know).

Considering the incident has passed now, I agree with A Terrible Llama, the potential negative social consequences are probably greater than the potential (literal) payoff at this point.
posted by tippiedog at 9:27 AM on April 24, 2012

I don't know. It's a car. They get dings, that's what happens, especially with a car that has been on the road for nine years.

Personally I would just let it go, especially considering the negative possibilities here.
posted by zombieApoc at 9:30 AM on April 24, 2012 [11 favorites]

It also could have been a situation where she noticed your wife noticing the scratch on the car and went into a mild mental freak out loop of "I hope she doesn't think that was me. Why is she looking at me? Is she still looking at me? Oh my God she's looking at me again."
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:31 AM on April 24, 2012

It's a door ding. They happen. Even if you're planning on selling your car, I wouldn't fix it.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:34 AM on April 24, 2012

What's the deductible on your insurance? Are you willing to eat $500 or more to fix the ding? Stop by the dealership and pick up a $12 of touch up paint. Use it. Unfortunately, door dings are by product of driving.
posted by COD at 10:02 AM on April 24, 2012

Response by poster: We're used to your average dings. In the past few months I've had a set of pretty big scratches (dent and metal exposed) on my newer Toyota and some lighter scratches on my wife's previously pristine car (although once repaired). This was a sharp dent into the metal which is not something that a bit of touch up paint (which I already have and use) or buffing will take out. (I'm pretty sure they all occurred at day care too!)

But anyway... this is a moot point since the lady came back and left her name and number at day care. (Her older daughter did and fessed up in the car. Don't know if that's why they were sat so long in the car or whether that was my wife's paranoia!)

I guess I'll take it somewhere and get a quote. Any advice on that would be welcome. (I fixed something similar on the other side of her car a few years ago and they did an amazing job. It was around $500 but that was when we lived in Dallas so I need to find an equivalently talented craftsman in Denver.)
posted by NailsTheCat at 10:27 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I just dropped my new (and newly-dented) car off at Perry & Terry's Collision this morning. Will let you know what I find out.

In my case, the denter fessed up, and offered to either pay out of pocket (his preference if small dollar amount) or get insurance involved, depending on the amount at stake.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:41 AM on April 24, 2012

Response by poster: That'd be great c_m -- do let me know! Their Yelp reviews for the quality of the work are good. (I was also looking at Art's Auto Body which seems well liked too.)

Sorry your new car got dinged.
posted by NailsTheCat at 10:46 AM on April 24, 2012

Yeah, they've also a few blocks from my house; I was looking at Art's as well.

Don't even have plates on the thing yet. :grumble:
posted by craven_morhead at 10:54 AM on April 24, 2012

Best answer: Good news from Perry & Terry; they finished the repairs on time and under their estimate. I'm not sure how they compare on cost versus other shops since I didn't shop around. Insurance covered everything smoothly, and they guarentee their repairs. My car's color is sort of a black pearl, and I couldn't tell the repainted areas from the factory paint, even in bright sunlight.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:58 AM on May 7, 2012

Response by poster: That's great of you to get back to me c_m. I got quotes from P&T and I was impressed with their shop.

Unfortunately, P&T's estimate is twice that of Art's because they propose doing both the (dinged) passenger door *and* the driver door since the ding is so close to the driver door he was worried about being able to blend them so that there is no obvious difference between the two panels.

I don't want to charge the parent that much money so that leaves my options at:
1. Go for Art's.
2. Go for P&T's and pay half myself.
3. Go for P&T's and ask them to do just the one door.

Will have to mull it over...
posted by NailsTheCat at 10:29 AM on May 7, 2012

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