Earlier this year, Aviva Canada commissioned an undercover investigation to see if auto body shops in Canada are being honest in their billing practices.
On March 10, the CTV news show “W5” aired a segment detailing the methodology and results of the investigation.
“On this edition of ‘W5,’ we’re revealing the exclusive results of an elaborate undercover investigation that wasn’t mounted by police or journalists,” anchor Kevin Newman said during the broadcast. “It was financed and executed by one of Canada’s leading insurance companies to provide an unprecedented view of what sometimes goes on inside unregulated auto body shops. And what the cameras revel helps explain why your car insurance rates keep rising.”
As part of the investigation, Aviva Canada purchased a number of vehicles and equipped them with hidden video cameras to record what happens inside a body shop. The insurer staged low-impact collisions and documented the damage.
“Then an experienced independent appraiser and a forensic engineer were brought in to thoroughly examine each car and record exactly what needed to be repaired or replaced, and then estimate how much it should cost,” Newman explained.
Aviva hired private investigators to park the collision-damaged vehicles at “random locations on busy highways,” Newman added, letting the tow-truck drivers choose the respective auto body shops for repairs.
Aviva’s post-repair analysis of the work performed at 10 body shops wasn’t flattering to the auto body industry, at least in Canada. The investigation uncovered “unjustified invoicing” practices at nine of the 10 shops, with issues ranging from “unnecessary work performed” to “parts deliberately damaged.”
“With the cameras secretly recording, repairs were made and behavior watched,” Newman explained. “And then once the repairs were done and the cars picked up, Aviva’s independent experts tore the cars apart again, comparing what they knew needed to be fixed or replaced with what work had actually been done and invoiced for.
“And what they discovered is an eye-opener: Almost every single shop overcharged for repairs, padding bills by hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.”
CARSTAR’s Concord, Ontario, shop was the only one that provided an accurate estimate and had no issues or unjustified charges.
“We’re proud to say that Adrian Vegnaduzzo, our franchise partner at CARSTAR Concord, delivered the highest standards in collision repair and made us all proud of the work that each and every CARSTAR across Canada does on a daily basis,” said Michael Macaluso, president of CARSTAR North America. “While we can’t speak for other repair facilities, CARSTAR works hard to deliver the highest-quality collision repairs and excellent customer service. Our franchisees are entrepreneurs who take pride in serving their customers and their communities. We are proud that they are committed to providing honest, ethical and fair service for their customers.”
To view the segment and read the analysis of the 10 body shops, click here.