Consumer Alerts

    Hail Storm Could Come Twice


    April 2, 2015

    Spring is officially here, but with the milder temperatures comes the increased possibility of severe weather. Arkansans know all too well the damage that can occur from tornados, sudden downpours, lightning and hail.

    Just this week, several storm systems passed through the Natural State, dropping hail as large as baseballs in some areas. These storms may be quick, but can cause lasting and severe damage to vehicles, sometimes even breaking windshields.

    Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s alert to urge consumers to be cautious as they look for vehicle repair services, and to be aware of con artists who offer these services unsolicited following severe weather. Rutledge also wants consumers to be aware of their rights and beware of the risks when buying damaged cars post-storm in ‘hail sales.’

    “After severe weather, scammers pose as ethical contractors offering to repair the dings and dents caused by hail,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Repairs can already be costly and time consuming without the threat of these con artists victimizing Arkansans. Further, some car dealerships will attempt to sell damaged cars to unsuspecting consumers at full price without disclosing the damage upfront.”

    Oftentimes, repair con artists will charge higher than normal prices and demand up-front payment for services, but ultimately leave jobs incomplete or fail to begin the work at all.

    The Attorney General offered the following tips to consumers who experience hail damage and need to repair their vehicles:

    • Select a reputable repairer. Seek advice from family and friends about servicemen they trust, and never be afraid to ask the person or body shop for references.
    • Get more than one estimate. This allows consumers to compare prices and avoid overpaying.
    • Get everything in writing. A contract should contain details about the price of the work and any agreement on financing. It should indicate the exact work to be done, the type, and quality of materials to be used and the expected completion date.
    • Never pay in advance. Consumers should always inspect the work before making the final payment to make sure the repairs meet their expectations.

    Dents and dings caused by hail damage seldom affect the mechanics of a vehicle, but if consumers are planning to participate in a ‘hail sale’ they should be prepared. Buyers should obtain a disclosure of the damage in writing from the seller and also check with their own insurance carriers to see how the hail damage may impact coverage of future repairs.

    For information on this and other consumer related topics, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline is (800) 482-8982, or visit the Attorney General’s website at www.ArkansasAG.gov.

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