Some Shops Hate Him, but Consumers Love Him: The Wreck Check Story

Wreck Check Car Scan Center
Wreck Check Car Scan Centers were founded in 1997 by Rocco J. Avellini. The company helps consumers who get shoddy repairs from body shops nationwide.

If someone gets into a car accident, takes their vehicle to a shop, and then later discovers that they are the victim of a shoddy (and possibly unsafe) repair, what is their next step? What if that customer then takes the car back to the same shop and does not get any satisfaction? People all over the country are in this predicament every day, and that is why more and more disgruntled body shop customers are visiting one of 35 Wreck Check Car Scan Centers throughout the U.S. to find answers to their questions and remedy the associated issues.

Wreck Check Car Scan Centers were founded in 1997 by Rocco J. Avellini while he owned Rocco’s Collision Center and the U.S. distributor for Cad-Scan in addition to selling 3D dimensioning equipment designed for the collision industry. "While the creators of this equipment designed it to assist the collision repair technician to ensure that the unibodies of damaged vehicles could be returned back to manufacturer's specifications, I saw a different purpose for it," Avellini explained. "As a result, I immediately announced on a few online collision discussion boards that I was starting a new industry, and I named it the Post-Repair Industry."

In 2001, James Lynas, the developer of the original Wreck Check software, decided to leave the industry. When he transferred the Wreck Check company to Avellini, his first move was to revise the original Wreck Check diminishing value software to reflect the true loss of value to vehicles that have been involved in accidents. Since then, he has continued to market and sell the new Wreck Check Car Scan Center concept to consumers and body shops that are interested in becoming licensees.

"We are simply giving the driving public the ability to get a second opinion for collision and mechanical repairs," Avellini said. "In many cases, we assist our clients in having their vehicles re-repaired to a safe condition after receiving their assessments. Our clients continue to recover their diminishing value on these sub-par repairs, which clearly illustrates that this is a problem in the collision repair industry in a big way."

To fulfill a need for more locations, Wreck Check Car Scan Centers is always in search of shops and other collision professionals that want to get involved, according to Avellini. "We want honest, experienced and knowledgeable automotive professionals who share our passion for assisting consumers before, during and after their automotive repairs and to ensure that their families are driving in a safe vehicle."

Avellini, 65, has worked in almost every aspect of the collision repair industry as an insurance adjuster and national property manager, equipment sales rep and as the owner of a restoration company and his own body shop (Rocco's Collision Center in southern California) for many years. When he found out about the Wreck Check software 23 years ago, he instantly saw the need for a company that protects consumers from improper collision repairs.

An early adapter of the concept and a firm believer in what he is doing, Avellini works hard to recover money for his customers, he said. "I was one of the initial Wreck Check licensees in 1993 after witnessing firsthand that insurance companies initially stated that they don't owe diminishing value. But, once we can show them our documentation, they will often pony up the money without negotiation. We have seen everything over the years, so we know what to look for and we know how to win for the people we represent. Recently, two of our clients recovered more than $25,000 in diminished value and more than $20,000 for losing the use of the vehicle for a significant period of time."

When a consumer takes their vehicle to a Wreck Check Car Scan Center, they get an in-depth inspection followed by all of the supporting documentation they need to make their case.

"Our Diminished Value Assessments are comprehensive and detailed, so no one can really argue with them," Avellini said. "A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge recently praised our assessments for being as good as gold. Now, the insurance companies realize that diminished value is owed and it is just a matter of documenting how much the recovery amount should be. We are the leader in determining diminishing value and our assessments are a testament to that. They have evolved over the past 20 years and now they basically leave the insurers with no other option other than to pay our clients."

"I have inspected over 20,000 vehicles in my collision, insurance and post-repair inspection life and the repairs, in my opinion, are actually not getting any better. Right after we started going after shops for doing poor work, we got a lot of media exposure. At that time, I thought the insurers would take steps to see that collision repairs would be completed in a safe and proper fashion. But it has turned out to be wishful thinking. I believe that in an ongoing attempt to control costs, the insurers are just creating new ways to achieve that, and ultimately, the repairers are left with the same liability. Repairers must remember that an insurer has no standing in the collision repair process and their only duty is to indemnify their insured and make them whole."

Avellini is not afraid of a little media, and Wreck Check Scan Car Centers may soon be the subject of a TV reality series, so stay tuned. With some body shop owners and insurance companies out there that are not exactly pleased with his work, does this street-smart New Yorker ever worry?

"A few of my friends have warned me to watch my back," he said. "I tell them, so be it--I'm not stopping, that's for sure. At the end of the day, it all comes down to peoples' safety, and that's what keeps me doing what I'm doing."

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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