March 24, 2014 Updated: March 25, 2014 at 9:50 am
Auto body repair folks will tell you that customer fraud occurs more often then you might think, as in this scenario:
The customer claims the repair technician dented or dinged his vehicle while fixing the original problem. The customer wants the dent/ding fixed for free - though it likely had been there for eons.
Tired of dealing with such false claims, the owner of a Colorado Springs auto body repair shop and his brother-in-law came up with a high-tech solution: an app.
James Bishop, 42, and Jake Durfee, 30, invented The Ding Stinger app as an easy way to let auto body repair and mechanic shops scan car or truck vehicle identification numbers, take photos of hail and other body damage, write estimates and share the information with customers and other auto repair companies. So if a customer comes back with a false claim - or takes it to another shop - the app can divulge the truth.
Bishop says such false claims happen a lot, and that's why he and Durfee came up with the idea.
But the app also has saved Bishop's company the time it took to fill out paperwork for orders and estimates.
"We are literally four times faster," he said. "Since we did this app, we have tracked where it has saved us 15 hours a week."
The app works on any Apple mobile device and can be downloaded and used for a limited time for free. After that, the app costs $30 a month to use, or $299 a year. So far, it's been downloaded more than 2,000 times in all 50 states and five countries, Bishop said. It has been purchased 226 times since it became available in July.
Durfee, a manager and repairman at Bishop's repair shop, "The Ding Guy," said he helped develop the app after the two men realized the flaws in their check-in procedures, such as transposed VIN numbers and triplicate paperwork. He said they created the app so it can be shared with repair and other auto service shops within the city and elsewhere.
A Springs native, Bishop started working in the auto body repair business in 1991 when he was 19. After attending trade school in Bentonville, Ark., he returned to the Springs in 1992 and opened his first shop. In 2006, he started "The Ding Guy" at 3001 East Platte Ave.
Durfee started working with Bishop the same year Bishop opened his shop, and Durfee's older brother, Matthew, coded the application.
When asked why someone should buy "The Ding Stinger" app instead of just having employees take photos of damaged vehicles, Bishop said: "Because the app organizes everything into an information package that can be attached to any other program, sent to customers, and it saves time."