LAKEWOOD — Customers say they've waited months for a Lakewood body shop to repair their hail-damaged vehicles.
Shirley Dale, a frustrated customer of StormWise Automotive Hail Repair, was on a mission to get answers Tuesday morning.
"I borrowed a car and drove up. I'm going to go to the repair shop and see if my car is there," Dale told Denver7 Investigates. "Who has a business to repair cars, and they just go radio silent? They don't return your cars. They don't return your messages."
Dale brought in her Honda CRV to StormWise on July 11 for a hail dent repair, which was supposed to take four weeks. The shop has had the car for 12 weeks now.
Google and Yelp reviews show StormWise has seen an increase in negative reviews.
"On Google, I wrote a review and said, 'This is the worst experience we've ever had,'" said Nancy Szilagyi, whose two-to-four-week repair took nine weeks. "There's a place where the clear coat looks like it bubbled up. I don't want to give them back my car. Don't want to leave it there again and not see it again for nine weeks. So basically, it's been a terrible, terrible experience."
While StormWise has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, similar complaints have come in this year. The BBB reported an influx of complaints in Colorado about body shops in general, possibly tied to the increase in people needing repairs after storms earlier this year.
"We are a family-owned business," said David Hobbs, owner of StormWise. "We have been around here for 12 years, and we've never had this kind of situation happen to us in the last 12 years. We are doing our best to try to get these cars fixed as fast as we can."
Hobbs said insurance companies have been slow to finalize claims, and sourcing parts has been a problem due to backorders and the United Auto Workers strike.
In Dale's case, Hobbs said her insurance company didn't finalize the claim until Aug. 25. Dale disputed that timeline, claiming StormWise contacted the wrong insurance company, which slowed down the process.
Hobbs acknowledged a "snowball" effect in regards to communicating with clients who wanted their cars.
"There was definitely a time when we did not have the staff to handle the inbound calls that we were having," Hobbs said. "(It's) frustrating for them, and I absolutely get it. We're definitely working better, harder every day to try to get a better hold of that."
Hobbs said his company is helping pay for rental cars for some customers. His is also now telling people to expect eight weeks for most repairs.
Meanwhile, Dale was able to see her car Tuesday and put new registration tags on it since hers had expired. Hobbs said he expects her car to be ready Wednesday, although some of the "beauty moldings" are still on backorder.
"We can deliver that without those at this point," said Hobbs.
Dale said at this point, she just wants her car back — finished or not.
"I feel like the only reason they've done anything today was because you had reached out to them," she said. "I never anticipated it would be gone for three months."