Hail damage anguish

2015-08-17 09:40


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HUNDREDS of vehicle owners are still waiting for dates for repairs to their vehicles after the freak hailstorms that struck Pietermaritzburg more than six months ago.

Hail repair and panel beating workshops in Pietermaritzburg said the influx of damaged vehicles was accompanied by an influx of demanding customers and posed massive logistical problems and shortage of skilled staff.

“We assessed more than 2 500 vehicles in the first two months after the hailstorms in January and February. We had to employ more staff to keep up with the demand, however it is very difficult to find skilled staff at short notice,” said Bevan Clayton of Hailbusters Panel Beaters.

Clayton said they were overwhelmed by customers and insurance companies and working long hours resulted in “huge pressure”. “We tried our best to work quick with the vehicles but we also encountered a few unhappy customers whom we have dealt with. If there are any other unhappy customers we would like to apologise and ask you to come back and we will see what we can do to assist,” added Clayton.

Peter Baxter Panel Beaters said they had quoted on more than 800 vehicles after the severe hailstorm and are still fully booked.

“We still have vehicles booked in until September. There were many challenges after the hailstorm as there were thousands of vehicles damaged,” said Baxter.

Although many customers have gone through the long, gruelling process of waiting for an assessor, receiving quotes from different panel-beating workshops and succeeding in their claims, some customers said they had “nightmare experiences”.

A vehicle owner, who did not want to be named, said she had only received her car from a panel beater in Pietermaritzburg after five months.

The woman said she had to “fight tooth and nail” for panel-beaters to finish the work on her car and return the vehicle to her.

“It was a nightmare. Every time I called the workshop to find out an update on my vehicle, they would tell me it will be ready the next week. This carried on for about five months before I finally got my car back. The worst was the work on the car was shoddy and I had to sell my vehicle.”

Another vehicle owner said he got his car back on time, however more than 200 km had been clocked up in his vehicle.

Board member of the Collegian Repair Association, Chadaya Odayan, said they received many complaints after the freak storm.

Odayan said although there were many complaints from unhappy customers, “most complaints came from panel beaters themselves who were having trouble with insurance companies”.

“Many frustrated customers resorted to taking their vehicles to back door panel beaters … however the workmanship is not guaranteed and [that] resulted in many unhappy customers,” said Odayan.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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