My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Washington.
First, let me state that I am a competent mechanic, and I do all my own work with exception of mounting and balancing tires, simply because I do not feel it to be a wise investment. I've built several cars, many engines, a few transmissions, and know my way around all the necessary tools to perform the job correctly. I have a very high distrust level of other people's work when it comes to this stuff.
That said,the one time I did not watch the work being performed, a tire shop damaged my car by using floor jacks under both sides where they had no business placing them. They crushed the pinch welds under the floor, between the front and rear doors. I was busy working on their wireless system, remoted into work, so I didn't watch them like the hawk that I usually do.
I know they damaged it because of the following:
1. The car has only been off the ground at three locations since October 2010: In my garage, at the VW dealer, and at this tire shop.
2. I always jack the vehicle in the proper locations and buffer the jack with wood to displace more weight than is necessary.
3. When I performed the previous tire rotation, the damage was not present, because it would have been right in my face to put the jack in the proper location.
4. The VW dealer keeps detailed records of damage to the vehicle, and they made no mention of the crush marks the last time it was there. Not to mention that they do not use floor jacks in their shop unless you have a flat tire. They put your car on a lift.
5. My floor jack does not fit the damaged location. It is smaller. I measured their jacks at their shop, with the shop manager present, and they are a perfect fit to the damaged locations. He even agreed that they were.
I got two estimates before I showed up. One was $850, the other $550. The shop manager turned the issue over to their corporate headquarters, who in turn sent their own estimator to look at the car.
Three weeks later I got a check for $272????
I had my wife get an additional two estimates yesterday. $1100 and $950 were what they came up with.
Clearly they admit guilt by sending me a check at all, but there is no way that $272 will cover the repair costs. It is very apparent that they intentionally low-balled their estimate if literally every other shop in the area comes up with a number, 2 times or more, higher than their estimator did.
My question is this: how should I approach this? I am thinking that I should demand (in writing) the balance of the average of the estimates (an additional $590), and if they do not comply within 20 days, file small claims case?