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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum
Review: Mark's Body Shop (Baltimore, MD)
|03-28-2013, 12:48 PM||#1|
Drives: 2010 E92 Le Mans M-Sport
Join Date: Feb 2012
Review: Mark's Body Shop (Baltimore, MD)
I recently had a run of bad luck with my car and needed to get some serious body work and repainting done. I had a phenomenally good experience with Mark's Body Shop in Baltimore, MD, so much so that I want to share with the community.
My car is a LeMans blue BMW E92 335i with 47xxx mi. I've carefully built the car up to exactly how I want it. I baby the car, although it does have to survive the mean streets of Baltimore on a daily basis. Fate finally caught up to me late this winter while I was driving on I-95 on the way to DC, when a large gravel truck driving way over the speed limit cut in front of me. The tarp flew off the truck and coarse gravel started pouring out at 80+MPH. My car was pelted down with big rocks, damaging my front bumper cover, headlights, windshield, fenders, A-pillars and trim. Ouch.
Enter Mark's Body Shop. After carefully reviewing my options for body shops I identified essentially two options in my area: 1) the BMW Certified Collision Center in Towson, MD and 2) Mark's Body Shop. Both shops are BMW-certified, use water-based paints and factory process, etc... Digging a little deeper, I found out that Mark's has been--and still is--the subcontracting shop for 2 of 3 local BMW dealers, and the BMW Certified Collision Center in Towson was opened by the third dealer a few years ago only so they could get the comprehensive center status from BMWNA. Prior to this time even the third dealer subbed out to Mark's. I decided to go with Mark's given their long track record.
I got a pre-estimate from my insurer (which, by the way, was such a low-ball that it underestimated the total cost of repair by 90%. That's a topic for a different post.) I then went to Mark's and Jason and Jeremy, who work the front end, did an extremely thorough survey and delineated all the fine damage. Even at this point their attention to detail was impressed upon me.
Although my insurer performed admirably throughout this claim process, they used a subcontracted local estimator, and this firm did prove to be somewhat problematic. In the end what made the 3rd party estimator difficult to deal with was their lack of attention to detail. They mishandled paperwork and required me to call them instead of the other way around. What really took the cake was that the estimator authorized initiating repairs verbally with both myself and Mark's Body Shop based on their written estimate, and then after the car was in pieces on the shop floor started to dispute Mark's estimate.
Needless to say, this last point left me feeling anxious. Mark, Jeremy and Jason at the shop all contributed to resolving this and did so in an extremely proficient and professional way. In fact, their professionalism and focus on detail was so evident that when the insurance underwriter read the correspondence from the estimator, who was giving me difficulty, and then looked at Mark's Body Shop's written responses to the estimator side-by-side, they immediately overrode the estimator and authorized all of Mark's repairs.
Trust me, you want to go to a BMW-certified shop who has the credentialing to back their work, and to a shop that knows how to navigate the system and has no financial disincentive to being anything but your advocate. You want to go to Mark's.
I was extremely happy with the repair process once it unfolded. Fixing the car to like-new condition was a major undertaking that ultimately required >$10k of work. (Covered by comprehensive insurance, thank G**.) It involved removing essentially every body panel, windshield, window, some custom wiring, etc... The shop foreman Jeremy is extremely proactive and knowledgable and guided me through this process. I'm sure he saw the terror in my eyes when I saw the car on the shop floor up on blocks in nine pieces with the paint sanded down and engine hanging out... He was extremely helpful in terms of keeping me apprised of the progress through regular phone conversations, and made sure to touch base with me throughout the entire process when even the slightest issue came up.
A word on OEM parts and processes:
Of note, one of my major criteria in choosing a shop was to find someone who carried BMW factory certification. In the immediate Baltimore area that essentially limits you to two choices as of 2013. Mark's is the only fully-private BMW-certified choice.
Why is this important?
1) OEM parts. If I went to the "recommended" insurance shop, I would've likely gotten used parts. At Mark's I not only got all-new parts, but I got OEM-recommended parts. For example, for my new windshield, instead of the cheaper OEM-compatible Pilkington glass, I got the real-deal OEM Saint Gobain Sekurit glass. In fact, Jeremy called me to say that the car would be delayed a few days because they put in a replacement windshield and found that it had a very slight defect in the glass, only visible after it was installed, so they removed it and sent it back and ordered a new part. Nice.
2) OEM processes. Mark's uses Glasurit paint, which to my knowledge is most fully-compatible with the factory process. It's water-based, just like the factory, and the color matching technology is advanced and all in-house at Mark's.
The bottom line here is that Mark's uses the best OEM parts and processes and has the necessary credentialing to back it up. So, when you deal with insurance, Mark's can honestly claim what is necessary to effect the "best" repair.
The extra touch of quality:
The repairs took several weeks, which as Jeremy originally explained to me was the time necessary in order to do the thorough, high-quality job they promised. When I finally went to pick up the car and saw it for the first time I immediately knew what Jeremy was talking about. The car was beautiful.
Now, if you are reading this you may be like me. If you are, you are anal retentive when it comes to your car. You avoid trucks. You wash it at weird hours just to keep it clean. You actually have a book where you keep your service records. Etc... I admit it. I am like this, and here is what I noticed when I picked up the car.
1) Obviously, the work was flawless. There was a clear attention to detail. Paint perfectly blended, even down to the metallic grain. Rain sensor function? Check. Wind noise? None. Window seals? Perfect. My custom wiring? As-if untouched.
2) I had an EZ-pass transponder mounted on my old windshield. This uses two small adhesive pads with velcro that mount to the glass. To my surprise, when I saw the car at delivery, there were the two adhesive strips mounted on the new glass. I thought to myself, "Nice gesture, but actually a pain for me because they won't be mounted properly and I'll have to shave them off and remount to get the spacing correct." Wrong. I went to put in the EZ-pass and it...fit...perfectly over the pads. I asked Jeremy and he said sure, they photo-documented everything right down to my EZ-pass adhesive strips, and measured their position relative to the rear-view mirror and each other. When the new glass went in, they manually measured the strips on the new glass and placed them. Seriously? I have OCD?
3) A pet peeve of mine about my dealer that also goes in the "thanks for trying to help me but you made my life difficult" bin relates to tire pressure. At the dealer, they always fill my tires. The rub is that they don't do it accurately and they choose the wrong pressures. I am in the habit of checking my tire pressure immediately whenever I return home from the dealer for this reason. When I picked up my car from Mark's I drove it home and did the usual routine. To my great surprise, the tires were filled to the correct pressures. Exactly. Within 1 PSI. What this tells me is that Jeremy and crew at Mark's Body Shop were so attuned to detail that they took the time to think about even this small issue and go ahead and look up the exact pressures for an E92, with staggered 19-inch wheels and specific M-sport suspension. Folks, this is not just the information written on the door jamb sticker.
In the first several days following the repairs I brought the car back to Mark's to make very minor adjustments to a door seal and to one of my front headlight windshield washer cover lids. Both times they got the car right back and took care of these small issues immediately and without charge.
A few weeks after the repair the unthinkable happened and as I was driving to work in traffic a hubcap flew off a truck in front of me at 80mph. I saw it coming, had nowhere to go, and had to just take it on the front of the car. I thought I'd need a repaint to the front bumper. Drove to Mark's--Jason and Jeremy brought the car back immediately and in 15 minutes had buffed it back to new with no damage visible. Bravo!
If you live within any reasonable distance of Baltimore, drive BMW or related brands, and really care about your car, I could not give a more wholehearted recommendation than to go to Mark's Body Shop for your repairs. I work in a customer-service related field in which we commonly lament that lack of old-school service and know-how, the kind which only derives from true expertise. This is what you get at Mark's.
The staff are extremely experienced, knowledgable and friendly. They have a laser-focus on attention to detail. They don't mind working with picky customers like me because they view the world through the same lens. They have the factory certification to give both you and the insurance company peace of mind. And the work is guaranteed, and they prove without hesitation that they make good on this promise.
I am an extremely happy customer and would be happy to serve as a reference. I'll try to post some pictures soon, hubcaps notwithstanding.
If you live in Maryland and need to go to a body shop, please do yourself a favor and go to Mark's.
Mark's Body Shop
4025 Mortimer Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21215
Last edited by E92mech; 03-28-2013 at 01:18 PM.
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