Yes, this is not food related… but I felt compelled to write about my experience at Top Auto Service in Dedham (located at 5180 Washington Street — they do not have a website, but here is a link to their location).
On Christmas Eve of this past year, I was in the Stop and Shop parking lot in Dedham when I got into a fender bender… essentially messing up the front-left corner of my bumper and successfully crushing the housing that holds in the fog light — leaving the light dangling. It sucked and it was unfortunately my fault. Enough said…
Seeing how we have a $1000 deductible on our policy, I was in no hurry to get this mess fixed… especially after I received the payment from our insurance company… I total of $45 and change. No joke. However, the husband had different ideas… this was my fault and thus, my problem… and I needed to get it fixed sooner rather than later. Needless to say, I let things go for a bit longer than I should have and then here we were, in July, with a car that was still unfixed and an inspection sticker that expired at the end of May. I knew it wouldn’t pass inspection, so why bother???
Then, while driving back (ironically) from the Dedham Mall, I noticed Top Auto Center… which did Mass State inspections and body work. I figured, I’d go and get the car inspected — knowing it would fail — and while I was there, get an estimate on the damage. I stopped by the next week and wound up being there for over an hour.
Karim, the owner of the shop, inspected my car and warned me that it would fail. I told him it was okay, that I needed to get it fixed anyway and that I was hoping to get an estimate on the damage. He explained that he likes to warn people when a car will fail, because some folks essentially flip out on him even though he has no control over the laws that govern inspection. I thought this was very respectful of him… and a good first impression of his honesty.
After the inspection, he went to work looking at my car. He thoroughly inspected all angles and aspects of the damage — including looking at the damage from the inside (through the engine compartment) — which the insurance inspector never did. We went back inside and he wrote down all the parts I needed — carefully explaining why each part was necessary and started calling around to get prices. After, he tallied everything up, added what he thought the total labor would be (less than $300) and told me he could get one of the parts “reconditioned” which would save me several hundred dollars. In the end, his quote was for about $1100… right in line with how much the insurance agency estimated (this in itself was highly uncharacteristic of past experiences with reimbursement vs. estimate values). I was happy.
We continued chatting for a bit… and he told me about how he fled Iran in the mid-80’s with his children and came to America. He had received his undergraduate degree here and then went back and completed his graduate work at MIT (his degree is in Mechanical Engineering). He worked in his field for many years, mostly on government and federal contracts. He eventually reached a point where he wanted to pursue his passion… which was auto body work. His friends and family thought he was nuts because he had spent so much time, effort and money on his education… but to him, it was time to focus on his love of cars.
He opened Top Auto Center a little over 20 years ago and has been in the same location the entire time. As he walked me out to my car, he noticed that the headlight looked a little off balance on the side the accident occurred. He asked me to pop my trunk again and basically climbed up on the car in order to see deeper into the engine compartment. Sure enough, he found a bracket that holds the head light in place had snapped and would need to be replaced. We went back in, looked up the pricing and added it to the list. He explained that he would need to remove the entire headlight housing in order to fix the bracket and would make the job a bit more difficult… (here’s the kicker), but since he quoted me the labor already (literally, he just jotted a number down on a piece of scrap paper 15 minutes earlier), he would still complete the work for the price he gave me. Incredible…. but it gets better.
He took down all my insurance info and told me he would call the inspector and have him come back and reassess the car — with the bumper off so he could see all the damage. To make a long story short, I dropped my car off one morning, his mechanic brought me to work, the inspector never showed, so he had the same mechanic (Jose — who is a lovely man and was great company despite a huge communication gap) come get me at work.
He asked if I could bring the car back the next day — when the inspector would come back. I showed up again the next day, Jose brought me to work and the inspector finally showed up around 3pm. When I spoke to Karim at the end of the day, he told me he got me an additional $500 toward my repair… and, since he had the parts in anyway, he decided to just start fixing the car (he originally told me he was booked out by a few weeks) — the bumper had already been painted!
Jose brought me home and I caught a ride to work the next day (day 3). At the end of the day, Jose was there again to get me and brought me back to a 100% finished car. The paint job looked great, the body work was perfect and the total cost never changed from the original $1100. I don’t know how he did it, I can only assume he didn’t make much money off me. And my car sported a brand new PASSED inspection sticker.
I cannot speak highly enough of the integrity of Karim’s business or of the generosity of he and his staff. If you need body work, an inspection or just an oil change… this is the place to go. Tell them Tammy with the Honda Pilot sent you!