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Thread: My experiences with Sideways AutoSalon of Austin Texas

  1. #1
    Low Bitrate drakino's Avatar
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    My experiences with Sideways AutoSalon of Austin Texas

    This is going to be a long post, but I want to get my experience out there.

    Ever since I custom ordered my Mustang, I had a desire to modify the appearance and install a car computer system. Not being much of a do it yourself person for either of these tasks, I began searching for local shops that could do the work for me. After searching and asking around, I had gotten a referral to Sideways AutoSalon, a shop that specialized in both car audio and bodywork. At the time I thought this would be perfect, since I could get both things done at once.

    My goal on the bodywork side was to enhance the classic look of the car, and make it appear as one of the many special editions of years past. The Mach 1 styling caught my eye, as did some of the stylings of the BOSS Mustangs. With this in mind, I ordered the CDC Shaker hoodscoop, and began researching the matte black paint used on the hood of those cars.

    For the car computer, I ordered an Infill G4 unit from MP3Car.com, along with various components for it like a wifi adaptor, external USB sound card, ODBII interface and such. Also ordered was an array microphone for hands free calling.

    In early May, I went to Sideways and discussed what I wanted done with the owner, David. He gave me some basic price estimates, and some ideas on an amplifier and speakers to go along with the car computer. I still had several parts on order for the system, and informed them I would return later to work out details and discuss when they could start work.

    On May 16th, I returned to speak with David, and we agreed on the following:

    1. Install the Infill G4 unit along with a GPS antenna, USB sound card, microphone, a rear view camera, and usb hubs located in the center console and the trunk. This also included 2 power units for the USB hubs to be wired in to provide the necessary 5v power.

    2. Install an amplifier and speakers bought from Sideways Autosalon, and wire the factory door subs into the new system.

    3. Install the CDC shaker hoodscoop and also Ford hoodpins. The hoodscoop came with complete install instructions, while the hoodpins did not.

    4. Paint the hood, trunk, and spoiler matte black to match the 69 era look. I provided them with the measurements based on the original 69 hood, showing pinstripe sizes, location of the blackout, and where the hoodpins went in relation to the stripe.

    Once we worked out the details, an invoice was written up with an estimate, and I paid a $500 deposit so that they could order the amplifier and speakers. It was arranged at that time that I would bring the car back on May 21st for them to start work.

    The 21st rolled around, and I dropped the car off in the morning. Before I left, I spoke directly with the people who were going to be performing the work, confirming the desired paint job and what paint to use, along with details on the car computer install. Later that afternoon, Dave called and asked for me to come by to answer some further questions. When I arrived, the car has been prepped for most of the audio work, and they asked more detailed questions on how the car computer should be hooked up, along with the USB devices. They also showed me where they would mount the microphone in the front center part of the roof where the overhead map lights were. They also had concerns about the rear view camera I had ordered not fitting in cleanly somewhere, and so I agreed to have them order a camera that was mounted on a license plate bracket.

    Tuesday came, and I was again asked to come look at the audio install and answer further questions. At this point, the car computer was in the center dash, and the basics were hooked up. I configured the car computer to be able to play music properly so that they could tune the amplifier properly. Also, it was pointed out that they were having some issues triggering the rear camera off the reverse indicator, but should be able to work around it by tapping the actual reverse light. On the body work side, the shaker was being installed, but no paint work has been started yet.

    After Tuesday, I kept up with the progress by calling them daily, and was informed that the car should be ready by Friday. When Friday came, I went over in the late afternoon with a coworker to pick up the car. Immediately issues were noticed with the paint work on the hood and the shaker. The hoodscoop wasn't centered properly. Rough edges were present on the pinstripe and edge of the blackout area, including several parts where the paint went beyond where it should have, resulting in an uneven looking pinstripe and unclean edge to the blackout. When this was shown to the person who painted the car, he suggested the edges could be cleaned up with a credit card or similar object. A few inconsistencies to the blackout were also pointed out. The hoodpins also had not been installed yet, and after talking to David, it was agreed that I would take the car to see what other issues remained with either the bodywork or the audio work. On the audio side, nothing stood out, however the microphone was not mounted in the center area, but instead mounted in the driver side front pillar. While I had not been consulted about this exact location, I didn't raise it as an issue.

    Over that weekend, several other issues were discovered. A popping noise from the speakers was heard when the car was started, the microphone was wired improperly, and the stereo wasn't wired to the headlights properly to dim the display when the lights are on. The power adaptor for the center USB ports wasn't installed, making the ports non functional. Other bodywork issues was discovered, paint overspray was left on most of the rear of the vehicle, including the rear windshield. Also, the rear trunk blackout was not masked off well, as the edge was noticibially uneven and black overspray was visible when the trunk was open.

    I called David on Monday, and we scheduled the car to come back the following Monday, June 4th. When I dropped it off, I confirmed that they would be installing the hoodpins, along with cleaning up the paint issues, shaker centering, and overspray. Also they would address the audio pop, and the headlight and microphone wiring issue.

    Late in the evening on 4th, I was called and told the car was ready to be picked up, and the issues had been addressed. When I arrived, David had already left, and the car was sitting outside of their shop being rinsed off by the bodywork person. He showed me the hoodpin install, and it was quickly spotted that the hoodpins were in the wrong location by myself and my coworker. I asked about their location, and was informed that they believed the location was where they should be. The bodyshop person also explained that they had a hard time installing them, and that they weren't held in very strongly. The quality issues with the paint, including cleanup of the rough edges had not been done, nor had any overspray been removed. The shaker hoodscoop also was in the same position. Additionally, damage to the paint was visible due to the hood pin install. At this point I took delivery of the car, and let the remaining person know that I would call David the next day to discuss the situation.

    That night, I took several photos documenting the situation, along with a video showing the fragile hoodpin install. I also discovered the microphone no longer had power after this second visit, and that it appeared they had pried on the wrong piece of the center console, leaving marks in the plastic.

    I e-mailed these photos to David, and then I called him to discuss the issues. He said he would get back to me, and on the 6th, I received an e-mail from David. In the e-mail, David expressed the need in some cases to tweak and adjust installs due to their custom install, something I can understand. Specifically regarding the hood pins, he stated the following:

    first thing i went looking for are pics of other 07 mustangs with the same shaker system & optional hood pins. from what i can tell we installed the hood pins to within a few inches of what the few other cars i could find on google image search. when deciding where to mount the pins initially we looked under the hood for various clearance issues etc & decided that where they are now was the most obvious place to put them. the prop rod hinge/pivot is the primary issue on moving the pins further out and we also needed to find something metal (like the core support, which is what weve mounted them to) to anchor the pins as well. so as far as the location of the pins im not sure what to tell you. i admit that we didnt do a search on the internet before installing the pins, but now after doing so we would have ended up installing them in the same place anyway.
    After receiving the e-mail, I called David to discuss the situation further, and informed him I was no longer comfortable with Sideways working on my car again, due to the issues present across two separate work sessions. It was clear that when they encountered an unknown, they would take a best guess without involving the customer, as they did both with the location of the hood pins, and also the microphone install. I expressed my desire to have the necessary corrective work done elsewhere and have Sideways pay for the necessary repairs including the replacement of the hood, or have Sideways refund the amount I paid in full. David was unwilling to agree to either of these resolutions, however, he did offer to do the bodywork over again to the hood if I provided them a new hood at my expense. At this point we ended the conversation without coming to an agreement. David had made it clear that Sideways would not refund the money I had paid, nor pay for the work to be done properly by another shop.

    After these discussions, I had no further contact with Sideways, and begin investigating other methods of resolution. I had used a credit card to pay for the work, so I initially filed for a dispute of the charges. The credit card company unfortunately chose not to get involved, as it was more then a merchandise purchase and they were unwilling to comment on the quality issues or improper installation. After that, I began filing small claims paperwork to attempt to resolve the issue there.

    Small claims court initially notified both parties that the trial would be in November. Prior to the trial, I took the car to Custom Sounds to have them correct the install issues still present with the microphone and had them check the install for any other issues. When they went to repair the microphone power issue, they found one wire completely cut, causing the issue. They also reran some of the wiring and cleaned it up, as Sideways had chosen to run the power cables for the amplifier next to some of the speaker wires.

    After the audio work was cleaned up, I ordered a new hood, and had Pops Creations paint it, along with repainting the rear spoiler and trunk to match. They also repainted the interior of the trunk to get rid of the black overspray left by Sideways.

    The trial was finally set for January, after Sideways was granted two continuances from the original date in November. Sideways was represented by an attorney, and I chose to go ahead with the case. I presented the story above, along with the photos and had my coworker appear as a witness. I also presented the receipts for the rework, along with the statement from Custom Sounds about the poor quality of the install. Unfortunately, my evidence was not enough, and "The court, after hearing the evidence and arguments of counsel, is of the opinion that the plaintiff should take nothing by this suit". At this point of being left with paying for body work twice, about all I can do is write it out so that others can know about this experience, and hopefully avoid similar issues during any body work or audio work people might be considering.

    Pictures are below with a description, click on any for a larger view:
    This is the measurements for the striping. Note it also shows the location of the hoodpins as much farther out.
    Front view showing hoodpin location, and uncentered shaker.
    Location of the hoodpin on my car
    Location of the hoodpin from the factory on a Shelby GT
    Closeup of one of the many bad edges on the pinstripe
    Ding in the hood next to one of the hoodpins
    The unround cuts made for the pins are visible in the hole
    This hoodpin isn't centered in the hole at all
    Damage to the hoodpin
    Damage to the center console, pry marks
    Overspray on the windshield
    Overspray in the trunk
    Closeup of the paint overspary on the trunk
    Car returned in this unclean state after being detailed
    Cleaning compound from the failed detailing
    Compound on the inside of the car door too
    Shifter boot left off, they didn't even bother to reassemble this fully for some reason

  2. #2
    Takes it in the Rear kevinlekiller's Avatar
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    That's some real shoddy work , it sucks you had to go through that. I can't believe you got nothing from court. It shows how crooked the law is.

  3. #3
    It ain't easy being a green moderator meddler's Avatar
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    There must be an appeals process. That just seems wrong that you got nothing.
    Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

  4. #4
    Low Bitrate drakino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meddler View Post
    There must be an appeals process. That just seems wrong that you got nothing.
    The problem with the appeals process is that it involves bringing the case out of small claims and into county court. The formal process there pretty much mandates an attorney, and the costs for such services would quickly outpace any settlement I would get. Basically my mistake in small claims was continuing when they had representation. I was more under the impression it would be informal and similar to an arbitration experience, however their attorney basically brought higher court style procedures down to the small claims level. Photos and receipts, plus a coworkers testimony and my own were not enough to counter their expertise.

    So, now I choose to share the story with fellow car enthusiasts.

  5. #5
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    I was under the impression that in small claims representation was not allowed.

    That was the case for me when I had to take Midas muffler to court for catching my car on fire 6+ years ago.
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

  6. #6
    Low Bitrate drakino's Avatar
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    Under Texas law, representation is allowed if both parties agree to it. Since they didn't file a notice of representation ahead of time, I only found out the day of the court date. The judge asked if I wanted to continue, and at the time my eagerness to try and get the issue resolved got the best of me, as I agreed to continue.

    Lessons learned.

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