SIOUX FALLS, SD -
We saw a flood of them this spring--storm chasers who come in to get work either in cleanup or repair. Our recent rash of hail storms has more of them coming into town, especially those companies who specialize in dent repair.
But should you take your hail damaged car to one of these temporary shops? You'll want to ask some questions first.
From a giant RV rolling into town, to pitching a tent; where there's hail damage, out-of-town dent repair businesses are sure to show up.
"We're in Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Pennsylvania, Georgia and New Orleans. We've been every where this year," Mike Plaugher of Dent Magic said.
Dent Magic is out of Columbus, Ohio.
Down the street is another paintless dent repair business called Fix-A-Dent, out of Texas. It’s fixing 60 hail-damaged cars from Terry Shulte's Subaru lot; but is also hoping to get some drive-by customers as well.
"I've been fixing hail damage for 20 years. We go behind the hail storms,” Leo Etienne of Fix-A-Dent said.
Both of these businesses have an "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau; but they still may not be following all the rules. We asked Jessie Schmidt of the BBB what customers should be looking for.
"The first thing you want to do is make sure they have proper licensing in South Dakota and that's that they're registered with the department of revenue, but that they're bonded and insured," Schmidt said.
"Not bonded with this state. I don't know to be honest with you. I'm a technician so I can't answer that question for you," Etienne said.
"We pay sales tax, so wherever we go," Plaugher said.
But in both cases, with Dent Magic and Fix-A-Dent, the South Dakota Department of Revenue tells me neither business has a tax license, which would also require transient companies to post a bond. A dozen out-of-state dent repair businesses have gotten their required tax licenses.
Besides asking to see their tax licenses, customers should also find out what guarantee comes with the work and what happens once they leave the state.
"If a car would come back, I'd have a tech dispatched up here and he would come into town and fix that car again," Plaugher said.
"Once the dents are gone, they're gone. They're not going to magically come back. As long as the consumer looks at their vehicle, if they're happy when they leave, nothing is going to change," Etienne said.
But these transient businesses are also subject to the 3 Day Right To Cancel Rule. It gives consumer three days to check out the company before they have any work done, even if they signed a contract.
After our interview, Dent Magic informed us that there wasn't enough business here and the company is moving on to another location.
SD Attorney General Consumer Protection
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