How To Ask Mechanic/Friend About Body Damage
April 30, 2016 11:14 AM   Subscribe

What is the most non-accusatory or neutral way to bring up body damage/scratches that likely occurred during a repair, when you are friends with the mechanic and he was already giving you a discount?

I just noticed some major scratches and a paint chip on my front bumper after my friend (who is a professional mechanic) replaced the radiator. It's not a small damage, the paint chip is the size of a quarter and it looks like something was digging into that spot for a while. I can't imagine how a car could have done that as it's different from some cracks that were already there from people tapping my bumper during parallel parking.

I didn't catch it right away and about 4 days have passed since the repair.

It really looks like it happened during the radiator repair but what is the best way to bring this up? I took photos on my phone and I was going to ask him over text.

I still have to mail him the check for the invoice and he was already giving me a bit of a friend discount deal.

Unfortunately I'm not happy about the appearance of the bumper and it's not really something I can just ignore. I mean I have no proof it was from him, but it seems 99% likely.

It seems like a simple question but what is the most neutral wording that I can use to bring it up?
posted by christiehawk to Human Relations (14 answers total)
Is there a hold harmless clause in your repair paperwork?
posted by xyzzy at 11:18 AM on April 30, 2016

Response by poster: Wasn't much paperwork to be honest. Just the invoice. What is hold harmless? Sorry won't thread sit after this.
posted by christiehawk at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2016

"Crap, the bumper's messed up now. Did something fall on it?"
posted by michaelh at 11:42 AM on April 30, 2016

I didn't catch it right away and about 4 days have passed since the repair.

Where has it been parked for those 4 days? In a garage, or on the street? Did you drive it during those 4 days?
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:55 AM on April 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: how much money in 'friend discounts' will you receive/have recieved over the length of your friendship? is it more or less than the damage? if this goes sour is it worth losing your friendship over? i would probably send them the money as agreed upon, get the repair done on my own dime, and move on.
posted by nadawi at 12:01 PM on April 30, 2016 [9 favorites]

The 4 days introduces enough reasonable doubt that you can't know for sure it happened at the garage. I wouldn't say anything to your friend and learn from it. When you leave your car in someone else's care, document what damage it went it with and check that against it's condition immediately upon picking it up.
posted by cecic at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

I would be tempted to send the picture with a message saying "Wow, I hadn't noticed this before - since you seem to be my car guy now, who would you go to to get this taken care of?" That way, if he wants to take responsiblity (maybe he didn't notice?) he can, and if not, you get a decent recommendation for someone to fix it. And I would do this in the frame of mind that you are consulting your friend, not "your friend the mechanic" - I agree with previous comments that four days is long enough that pinning it specifically on him could make him feel defensive, and I wouldn't be nearly as certain as you are that it was caused by your friend.

A "hold harmless" clause, to answer the question, is a clause in a contract that says that you agree to "hold harmless" your friend for any damages that happen during the service. We have one at the PC repair place I work for - we guarantee our work for a period of time, but we can't be held liable if, say, your hard drive dies while we're working on the computer and you lose your billion dollar business plan. It's a way to protect ourselves from litigious customers who would sue us to hell and back if they spotted anything out of the ordinary. In this case, in my non-lawyery understanding, it would mean that even if your friend caused the damage, he wouldn't be on the hook for fixing it. Check the back of your invoice for terms, I guess?
posted by Kortney at 12:19 PM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

What is the end result you want? Do you want him to pay to fix the damage? If that's not the case, then let it go.
posted by hydra77 at 12:38 PM on April 30, 2016

Friend discount means let it go. If you want pro responsibilities, pay pro rates.
posted by zippy at 2:05 PM on April 30, 2016 [21 favorites]

This is why it's a bad idea to do business with friends. If you value the friendship, pay for the repair out of pocket.
posted by FencingGal at 2:11 PM on April 30, 2016 [11 favorites]

It's a bumper. Since it's plastic the paint damage isn't going to cause follow-on problems down the road, so I'd just let it go. I like Kortney's approach if you do want to bring it up.

Really, though, the only way this is going to have any effect on you whatsoever is if the car was in pristine condition in the first place (which doesn't sound like it is the case) and you are planning to sell it to a private party in the near future. It will have zero bearing on the trade-in value if that is your concern.
posted by wierdo at 2:47 PM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hold harmless means that the garage won't assume liability for damages done to the car while on site. If such a clause is in the paperwork or posted in the shop, it's not even worth talking to your buddy.
posted by xyzzy at 4:42 PM on April 30, 2016

Uh, you don't.

If you are hard up enough that you need to ask friends to do things like car repair work for you for less than the normal rate, one of the consequences is that you don't have the same recourse as if you pay people to do it in the normal professional way.
posted by mister pointy at 7:38 PM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to those who wrote reasonable, not snide answers. I'll just ignore it but won't continue to go to him for car work. Still very disappointed about the looks pretty bad.
posted by christiehawk at 8:21 PM on May 2, 2016

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