Monday, March 9, 2009

Potholes and Tow Trucks Cont'd

In case you were browsing, or haven't heard the full story.

This is a continuation and resolution of my previous post.

Date: 2/28/09
Day: Saturday
Time: Approx. 6:15 P.M.
Place: Back lot of Best Buy in Okemos, MI.
Events leading up: Driving car back to get previously purchased stereo installed.

As you can see in the pictures below, there is an obscenely large "pothole" located in the middle of the road. At the time I had not been aware and did not see the pothole until it was too late. The front of my car bottomed out and a hefty thud shook me. I feared it was damaging but hoped nothing serious. I went inside the shop to query about my 6 P.M. appointment to install my stereo. It turned out the fella was tied up with a previous job and could not make it to my car in time. I rescheduled and then proceeded to depart the grounds. Not even before I made it back to the front of the building did I hear a scraping noise. I immediately stepped out of my car and saw what it was. The bottom protective cover for my engine (made of plastic) was broke off its brackets and dragging. I was a bit irritated until I noticed a liquid dripping from the engine. I was in disbelief until I touched my finger to the forming puddle. It was oil. As soon I realized this I brought my car back to the shop and asked the fella for some assistance. He could not do much but ensured me that I needed a tow. I did not argue, for that much oil leaking from my engine would certainly cause it to cease up. Luckily I had AAA to assist me, for the - I don't know - nth time. I got my car towed to a local shop, but of course being a weekend I had to wait until Monday for inspection.

Moving into Sunday. I had a terrible night's sleep and was upset about the whole ordeal seeing as I had just changed the oil in this car I just received a couple weeks ago from my dad. I was now again without a car until further notice. My roommate Phil and I proceeded back out to Best Buy where I took pictures of the hole and spoke with the management. The manager I spoke to was surprisingly agreeable to my complaint and quickly helped me to fill out a proper form. My reasons for requesting their liability are as follows:
1. Holes so large that they could damage or injure someone should be repaired.
2. If repairs are pending, clear markings of the dangerous area must be made.
3. It was clear that the hole had been noticed due to remnants of fluorescent pink paint (as seen in photos) were seen on edges of the hole as an old attempt to indicate of its enormity.
4. Despite it being known about, it had clearly gotten worse and nothing was done to fix the hole (with possible exception of filling with sand that had already been washed away).
I was happy to note that my justification would not be ignored. I then awaited further notification.

Monday, the estimate. I received a phone call from the auto shop regarding the estimate on my car. It was roughly $470 alone for the parts and labor of repairing the oil pan. Aside from that the plastic cover was scrapped so it became bare. This meant for a replacement part, the recommended Panzer Plate. It is a metal cover that will guarantee durability and protection for the underside of my car. That cost about $580 parts and labor. This estimated my total cost over $1000. I requested this part and told them the situation between Best Buy and myself. They gladly started repair as soon as the parts came in.

Thursday, first contact. I received a phone call in my lab from a representative of Best Buys insurance company. Mike is his name. I first explained to him what the situation was, why I felt they were liable and how I was without a car thus preventing me from getting to work. He quickly ordered me a rental from Enterprise with everything taken care of. I was happy about this. At the time he was hesitant to claim liability because it is my duty to be aware of my surroundings and drive carefully. I agreed, but still felt this was not the ordinary pothole. I later contacted my dad and spoke with him about this (he was already filled in about the damages and situation). We then spoke to our own car insurance as a backup plan. After a number of phone calls I felt a bit more secure an official about this. I also spoke with the repair shop and they estimated to be done with the car on Friday. Later on I called Mike and spoke briefly with him and mentioned the photos I took. He was delighted that I had them and glad to look at them, so I emailed him the photos.

Friday, last chance. I received a call from the repair shop saying the car was completed and ready for pickup. I was happy this was fixed so timely. Unfortunately, after speaking with Mike, it was still pending. He awaited the estimates from the repair shop as the appraiser visited that day. It was still uncertain if the repairs would be covered. I had to leave my car at the shop.

Monday, the answer. I call Mike earlier in the day to ask about how close the file is to being completed. He informed me that he received info from the appraiser, but needed to speak to the shop. I then waited. My phone rings and it's Mike. He let's me know the outcome. They are claiming liability and will send me a check for the sum total amount of the repairs. This total was $1082.76. I was quite thrilled that things finally worked in my favor. Mike turned out to be very understanding and compliant with me. I then continued by returning my rental and picking up my fixed up car. Of course afterward I ate lunch with Kayla at Hobie's.

One of the few setbacks to this (aside from all the phone calls and not having a car), is that the check is not instant. So I was pressed to pay all of the costs out of pocket. Eventually a check will arrive in my name and I will have this money moved back around to even things out.

So my lesson here is... pay more attention to the roads. Yes Best Buy was deemed liable, but I would have preferred to avoid all of this. Though, I guess it was a good experience?
Oh not to mention during this whole week I had work, a major biochem test on Thursday, two big homework assignments due on Friday, and a quiz on Wednesday.