You get into an automobile accident and soon after you're asking, Now what? You know you'll have to get repair estimates, but where and how many? It's usually a time-consuming hassle.
"I hate dealing with anything that has to do with cars just because I don't know enough about them, so it's always been kind of frustrating in that sense," said L.A. resident Miki Reynolds.
But this time, when Reynolds damaged the side of her Mini Cooper pulling out of a parking spot, she found getting bids from several body shops was just a matter of taking a few pictures using a special app on her smartphone.
"It's a very simple step-by-step process: Describe the accident, take pictures of it, upload it into their system, and they basically act as a broker for all of the different body shops in the area, and will seek out quotes for you," said Reynolds.
The app Reynolds used is called BodyShopBids. A few days after she sent the photos to the app, she had three estimates from body shops right near her home.
And body shop owners seem to like it too.
"I personally am a big fan of technology, so whatever makes it easy for drivers to take care of their cars in an easy way, informed way," said Eyal Dunkel, Crown Coachworks Auto Body and Paint.
BodyShopBids says the estimates are very close to what you will actually pay, but body shop owners will say that it can change once they take a good look at your car.
"I've seen vehicles that were hit, the bumper looked like a $500 paint job, and then underneath it, $3,000 worth of damage," said Heber Cotton, MBS Collision Center. "So there are instances where it just looks like it's something superficial, and it's a lot worse than what it seems."
Even so, BodyShopBids guarantees the work.
"You don't actually pay the body shop themselves, you pay BodyShopBids, so once the work is done, you're happy and you're satisfied with it, there was no overcharging, you let BodyShopBids know that, 'OK, go ahead, I'm happy and I'm satisfied with the work that was done,' and then they release the payment to the vendor," said Reynolds.
Reynolds took the lowest bid and asked one of the other body shops to match it, and they came very close.