My 2011 GS350 that was just purchased about 6 months ago was bumped by someone on the rear door. Since I work for auto collision industry and know that I could claim for the DV, I started my DV claim immediately. I googled for DV appraisers, AutoLoss.com was on the top of the list (apparently they paid advertisement fee to be listed on the top) . I'm usually a very detailed oriented and cautious person, I do online research before taking action, but all "glamorous" feedbacks on their website bewildered me -
I submitted a request for free quote via their website, and Monica Fisher, wife of Terry Fisher, replied with subject "Great DV Claim" in her email and called me instantly (this is the only time that she called me to charge my credit card of $275). After that she send me an appraisal with lost value of $6770. Wawanesa, the default side's insurance company, which I would say is a pretty decent company, hired their own independant appraiser, appraised the loss of $2100 and paid me that amount for the loss.
I sent their appraisal to Monica, and asked her to take a look as of why there was such a gap on the loss price comparing the two appraisals. She didn't reply, I sent email again after a couple of day, she replied "They are not comparing apple to apple. Thanks,". I doubt she even looked into the insurance company's appraisal. I called the appraiser that Wawanesa hired and discussed his appraisal, he said that's the the fair value he'd given. I called insurance company, and was told they would give me a chance to have my appraiser talk to their appraiser and confer with each other on the appraisals, and if it comes out of any difference, they will go from there.
The guy also said DV appraisers know how to do this as they were experts on this. After I requested a few times in more than 2 weeks, Monica replied "They need to put that the negotiations are binding in writing. Thanks.". At that time, I sensed the fishness of this company, apprently she's just trying to intentionally avoid/delay anything they need to do on their side until you gave up. I immediately searched online on the reviews of autoloss.com and found there are quite a few complaints filed against them. What happened to those owners are so similar. But I still wanted have a final test, so I sent an email to Monica and ask if they were going to charge me for this negotiation,
She replied "Yes, if you want us to negotiate the appraisal the fee is an extra $100 just because it is a lot more work for us. Thanks," It was expected, but still I'm very upset, and I replied "Oh Monica, is that really? You didnt do ANY job except providing me an appraisal written from a template which probably wont take more than 15 minutes. I read all bad claims from online and only regret that I had not read them. Rest be assured, I will write another complaint on top of those, Thanks,". This company is cheating and sneaky and dishonest, they don't deserve to stay in the business.
Lessons learned -
1) When you google for a service, don't always takes the first 1 or 2. The reason they are on the top is NOT because they are top rated, but because they had paid more advertisement fee than the rest.
2) Don't trust the customer feedback on a company's own web site. They have the control of their own website, and you won't expect to see any negative ones there.
3) It's NOT important how many good reviews are there for a specifica company (companies can write good reviews for themselves can't they?), but It IS important to search what bad reviews are about on the service company. If a company is truly good, you won't see bad reviews. Usually people don't take time to write bad review unless their experience is really frustrating and unhappy.
4) If you want to file a DV claim, either get a quote for about 40 bucks online, for if the insurance company is decent, they will pay you the amount close to the real loss, or if the insurance company is not that nice, spending nearly $300 doesn't provide ANY extra value than $40. Or you should walk into a local appraiser's office and make sure that they will negotiate with the insurance if an agreement needs to be reached.
Hope this helps.