What would you do?

I bought a new car 5 weeks ago — an Acura TL.
This morning, I brought it to the car wash.
yeah, this is where the story takes a turn for the worse
It’s the kind of car wash where you get out and they drive it in themselves. Before it goes through, they vacuum it.
After it came out, the guys walked up to it to dry it off. After a minute, one of the guys asked me if it was my car. I said yes. Then he told me that the 2 passenger side windows were left open through the car wash.
Now, it was 45 degrees out this morning, and none of my windows were open when I pulled up to the car wash.
I ran over and both the front and back had a lot of water on it — on the leather seats, on the dash, on the stereo, in the door pockets, on the power seat controls, between the seats. Just about everywhere on that side of the car.
I went inside to talk to the manager. She came out, looked at the car, and asked the one guy to bring it to the back to dry it off. He drove it back into one of the bays.
I walked back in and asked the manager to give me a letter stating what happened. I was concerned that something could be damanged that wasn’t immediately obvious, and I knew it would be very difficult to prove that after the fact.
She refused. I asked her why and she said that she’s doing everything she should be by drying it off.
So after a few rounds of back and forth I went outside and asked the guys for their names. She ran out behind me and told them not to give me their names. I got 3 names before she got out.
After they brought it back from the bay I inspected the car. The leather on the rear passenger seat is loose and bumpy now. I went back in and told her and she said that I have a bad car and it’s not her fault (at this point she already knew that I have a 5-week old car).
She told me that I just want a new car and I’m not going to get one out of her.
i can’t make this stuff up. it was like being on an SNL skit.
Then another guy told me that I should be happy because I got extra service because they “detailed” the interior. He was telling me that I got a good deal and it’s just water.
yes, that’s seriously what he said
I have three issues with what happened today:

  • They put my car through their car wash with the windows down.
  • When asked to give me a letter stating what happened, the manager refused.
  • When I found damange, she told me I had a bad car.

They treated me unfairly and behaved poorly. Even if I have no permanent damage, I want people to know what kind of business this is. I already plan to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but what other actions could I/should I take?

47 thoughts on “What would you do?

  1. That’s rotten! If it were me, I’d find out who owns the carwash and go directly to them. I assume either your local government or whatever state office governs businesses could tell you. I’d also contact the state consumer affairs office and the local chamber of commerce, but I think going directly to the owner might be the most effective. Your story makes me really angry. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  2. I would be very surprised if there is not permanent damage. Even it if takes months to show up or when it is warm and it gets mildewy, or is something relatively minor like the upholstery. It’s still damage done by someone else to your perfectly new car. I speak from experience when I say a drenched car is sometimes never completely dry again.
    Since it is new, I wonder if you have a good case to take to court. A civil case to at least pay for professional services to properly dry the car (there are such things for homes, I wonder if there are for cars) or for damage.
    I think that women wouldn’t give you a letter or get everyone’s name because she knew darn well just how badly they had f’ed up and how much money it could cost her. And it should. The fact that they treated you as though you were overreacting by being outraged to cover up their idiocy doesn’t downplay what a colossal mistake this in fact was.
    Go get ’em!!
    PS…you could also send a letter to the editor of your widest-circulating newspaper.

  3. call the cops immediatly and see if you can do something.. totally do something, you will regret if it you dont! I am still deaing with a car issue due to SOMEONE hitting it when I left it overnight at a moving place because we rented a truck, to this day I wish I had brought a polive officer in to force that A hole to let us view the tapes he claimed they didnt have (but the kids said he did), so just rencetly we went to get a estimate on the damage and the stupid place told us 4k OMG! My car is like a 2001 I don’t think its worth more then like 6k, it’s a civic. I always regreted that I never did anything back when it happend. I am sure there is something you can do! Keep asking aorund till some solution presents itself!
    That’s their fault, they shoudl no better then to let a car go through with its windows down. Call the cops, calla a lawyer, call a friend and get advice!

  4. I’d take them to court for sure! You may end up with permanent damage that doesn’t show up for a while…I bet even if you just threatened court with an official looking letter with some legal sounding things that they’d want to settle with you to avoid the hassel/negative publicity…I’m so sorry, what a shitty thing to have happen to a brand new car!

  5. I would definitely check it out with the cops, a lawyer friend or something. Maybe call your insurance agent to find out what you should do. I would probably attempt to contact the actual owner of this location. Document everything and let them know what happened and take the car to your dealership and get an estimate of damages and provide to the owner. If they refuse, I would take them to small claims court for sure, that’s insane.

  6. i would do what wanda suggested, call your insurance agent, call the cops to file a complaint or at the very least, find out what they recommend for course of action, and if the car wash is part of a larger franchise, call their main office, as well. you absolutely have to gear up and start protecting yourself right away, time is of the essence.
    you did the right thing at the car wash, even if they did not. that is seriously messed up and i’m really sorry to hear you’re going through it.
    i’d suggest taking photos of the damage right away, also for proof later.

  7. I would bring it to the dealer and have them check it out thoroughly, contact my insurance agent and the owner of the car wash. If warranted at that point, maybe even a lawyer? In fact, if you happen to have a friend or a family member who is a lawyer it might not hurt to have THEM contact the owner of the car wash. Good luck!!

  8. So sorry that totally sucks but you do have recourse… you should call your insurance company most of them will go after the car wash for you… they have insurance for this very reason your insurance company should be like having an 800 lb gorilla in your corner (most of them totally rock in these situations) I speak from experience with yucky car washes… Good Luck 😉

  9. Call the BBB. Call the dealer and get it in pronto and get a repair estimate. Write out and extremely detailed report of exactly what happened and submit it as follows:
    One copy to the manager of the establishment.
    One copy to the corporate headquarters of the establishment if it is a chain.
    One copy to BBB.
    Ask for them to fix your car. If they won’t, take them to court.

  10. I would go to the police NOW and tell them the story! I think that you need proof, at least in the form of a police report, in order to further pursue this. Good luck.

  11. First of all, I don’t think that the police would be able to do anything for you.
    Secondly, you should put in a claim to your car insurance company.
    Thirdly, this is appalling behavior! It’ll make me think twice about using a similar car wash in my down. Jeesh!
    I’m sorry this happened to you. :(

  12. Maybe go to your local news channel that has a consumer watch program? They can sometimes shame (if nothing else) the business into doing the right thing. Good luck. How distressing that experience sounds!

  13. Is there a local tv news program that would investigate it? where I live some of the networks have an “on your side” segment that takes on cases like this. I also second contacting the BBB and the cops. that is a maddening story.

  14. Before you put a claim into your insurance company, check to see if they (car wash) has an insurance policy. You should file there. If you file with your insurance company there is a chance you could have your insurance cancelled or raised rates. And yes get an estimate for repairs at the auto dealership you got the car, and unforunately getting a lawyer is a good way to protect yourself.

  15. This is terrible, I’m so sorry! Everyone has already left good advice; I’m just sorry you’re going to have to deal with their mistake.
    It *does* sound like an SNL skit… Two A-Holes Get A Job At The Car Wash…

  16. Get a lawyer. Talk to your insurance, as others have mentioned. A strongly worded letter from a lawyer might get you results without having to go to court.

  17. BURNINATION (only funny if you are familiar with Trogdor from Homestarrunner.com).
    Seriously, though, pursue it to the top. If it’s local business and the manager is the owner’s daughter, I don’t know what you can do… But you should be able to get anything and everything fixed by the company that did it. I like the suggestion of seeing if the car wash has its own insurance (though the probably cover their ass with a disclaimer that they’re not responsible for attennas and windows left open, even when they themselves open the windows…).
    File a complaint with the cops, get a lawyer, and prepare to have your soul sucked out… Because people stink. Take lots of pictures, be as detailed as you can in your account, and knit a series of voodoo car wash dolls–I’ll supply additional pins if you need them.

  18. That’s horrible. Good thinking asking for a letter, bad management not giving it to you!
    I’d broadcast the name and location of this place all over (starting with your blog) and then take everyone else’s suggestions!

  19. CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY and find out what they expect you to do. Take loads of pictures of the damage and cling on to the contemporaneous note for dear life. Write the date and time of the accident and sign it.
    Good luck!

  20. Yes, call the insurance company, and I believe you should be able to get a damage report from the Police Dept as well. Obviously it would have been better to do so while at the car wash, but I don’t think it should matter since it’s the same day.

  21. I think it stinks how the manager handled it! How stupid of her not to realize that if she gave you good customer service you would be much less likely to sue.
    Lots of great advice on how to proceed above. Skip the police, do what Liz listed above.
    It might make you feel better to take action too! It really stinks when something happens to your new car – like when I drove in wet paint on the highway and got it all down one side of my new Volvo – ouch.

  22. Ack! That sucks. You have a lot of good advice in the comments – I agree that you must pursue doing something about this. At the very least, I suspect you’ll have mildew and mold problems. Also, it’s possible that this could void part of your car’s warranty! :(

  23. Take photo’s immediately. Call your insurance agent. The car wash has to have insurance and your agent will be the one to tell you how they can go about filing a claim. I would have called the cops while I was still there, but since you left, I don’t know that the police can do anything at this point. I would find the owners of the establishment and take it up with them. Write everything that happened down in detail while it’s fresh in your mind – not that it would fade, mind you, but it’s best to do it now. Also, if you have any local news stations, big newspapers etc, I would contact them and have them run a story – lot’s of local news have consumer advocates that work with you. Definitely report them to the better business bureau. And tell everyone you know what a horrible, horrible business it is and not to patronize it. Whew – I’m so angry for you, I could just spit!

  24. Yeah, I agree with Scout – find a lawyer quickly because delay only serves to prove acceptance of the situation. You need to get a letter written to threaten legal action. The treatment you received was totally unacceptable and unprofessional. Good luck.

  25. 1. File with BBB
    2. Contact the owner’s of the carwash letting them know that unless they recify the situation you will be contacting lawyers.
    3. Contact lawyers.
    4. Take car back to dealership for inspection.
    5. Have dealership list any problems found with car due to water damage.
    That is what I’d do to start. This is so wrong! I’m outraged for you!

  26. Your car insurance agent should be your best friend in this case. He/She will probably tell you to get an estimate of what damage has been done. You may have to get more than one estimate. Also, take photos of the damage and write a letter to the car wash owners, documenting what happened, what date, and what you want done to rectify the situation (you may have to wait for the estimates to know what reimbursement you want to ask for). Always keep copies of all correspondance. I would think your car insurance will go after the insurance that the car wash has. If that doesn’t work then submit a small claims in small claims court. You will need documentation to go to court so make sure you keep copies of estimates of the damage. Make sure the estimates say things like: replace rear upolstery due to water damage etc. You can include the small claims court fee as part of what you ask for in terms of reimbursement. Good Luck.

  27. That totally sucks! I think that everyone has already pointed out action that I would suggest. That carwash needs to repair the damage done.

  28. That really stinks. I would first call my insurance company but this is kind of hairy since the extent of the water damage probably won’t be apparent for awhile. I would definitely talk to a lawyer. If you call your local bar association, they should have a list of lawyers who will provide a consult at an agreed-upon (often reduced) rate. Good luck!

  29. Insane! There’s lots of good advice here, and I don’t have much to add – I just wanted to add my two cents of outrage about the situation.

  30. So sorry you have to deal with this. Didn’t have time to read all the comments so I apologize for any duplication. Contact your insurance company and let them know what happened. They should be able to file a claim on your behalf. They will also be able to tell you where to take the car to be serviced and if you should contact the police. My car sustained water damage in a flood and was able to be cleaned and dried–no lasting damage thankfully. This may not be the case for you but there are companies that can check the car and let you know.
    Please DO file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. We did this when we had problems with roofers. A year of complaints and leaking were taken care of after one letter.
    I would also advise posting a letter to the editor in your local paper. The way you were treated was totally unprofessional and unacceptable.
    Do let us know what happens.
    Good luck.

  31. Take lots of photos. Document everything. Call the local news. Tell all of your friends. File a police report.
    I’d be steaming!

  32. that is horrible!!! i hope you got the manager’s name! i am at a loss here, maybe contact a lawyer and see, take the car to the place you bought it and see if it is under warranty and also have them do an inspection to check the circuitry etc and then go back and see who the highest person is at that establishment that did the wash and give them something from the inspection stating what the damages are. did you take pictures with a cell camera or anything at the car wash to record the damage?

  33. That sucks! If it happened to me I would:
    *Refuse to pay for the carwash
    *Call the police and make a report
    *Call my insurance company
    *Take pictures of the wetness/damage right away
    I hope they take responsibility for any damage

  34. How could they? I realize it can’t be the most inspiring job to work at a car wash, but they must realize it comes with responsibility – like – don’t wreak the car.

  35. How awful! I hate to say it, but I think part of the poor treatment was because you’re a woman – even if you were mistreated by another woman. I bet you if a man had come in with the same problem they would’ve bent over backwards to remedy it and provided the information you requested.
    I would avoid a name & shame as if you do have to go to court this be in their favour since it’s libel. Definitely follow the avenues suggested of local / state business policies, locating the owner of the car wash, etc.
    Hope this works out in the end.

  36. OMG I am so sorry to hear this. I didn’t read all the comments so I’m sure you’ve probably heard this, but call your insurance, take lots of digital pictures and maybe even call a lawyer. But most of all, don’t ever go back to that place! That’s such crap!

  37. You need to record everything (you’ve done a good job here, you know), probably contact your insurance company, and then decide whether there’s damage.
    If there is long-term damage, then you need to know what will make you happy — replacement, restitution, repair, touch-ups, having the manager fired, or the employees?
    If you don’t state what you want, then it’s just a complaint.

  38. So, I’ve just started reading your blog, and I’m catching up on past posts. My husband had a bad experience at one of those car washes too…when he went to get in his car to drive it home, he tried to adjust the seat back to the right place and found out it was broken. they *broke* his seat. Almost undrivable…after lots of back and forth with the manager, he got a written promise to pay to fix it as long as it is under $200. of course, it then took several weeks to get them to actually cut the check to him as well…this ordeal took a few months to finally settle!

  39. Thank you for the resources. Keep up the good work!.
    I am from Uruguay and also am speaking English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Connected gant chart, he crocheted out as eventually a international film in a bombing when permanent lookouts had flames of shots in doing bills.”
    With best wishes :o, Nita.

Comments are closed.