Crazy Business Practice

So I need to replace the front passenger door for the BMW. I look online, and find this site. They have several for sale, in Adelanto, available for local pickup (it’s about an hour and a half drive), and the price is great.

The only problem: I don’t know what color any of them are (the car is silver). So I call the phone number, and after being on hold for almost an hour, finally get someone. I ask if I can drive up there to check them out, to make sure the one that I’m getting will match. She says, no, I can’t look at them until I buy one, and they don’t accept returns for the wrong color. She had no explanation for why this was the policy, but it makes no sense to me. So not sure what to do now, other than buy one, hope for the best, and be prepared to paint it.

20 thoughts on “Crazy Business Practice”

  1. Interesting site – looks like a front end for salvage yards, and my guess is they’ve got a contracted customer service system, which has no clue.

    I had a look (I need a rear door for one of my SUV’s) and noticed the “inquire about this item” link at each of the listed sites. Did that work?

    What you might try instead is calling up an auto savage yard directly – they have (or do in my area) a parts network. I’d also bet it’s cheaper than using a front end site like the one you linked.

    Good luck!

  2. Is this another problem with getting windows to work?

    *awaits some good jokes about backing up*

  3. Who needs to match the color?

    (cue the SNL fake ad for the car that is luxurious on the inside, looks like a wreck from the outside, a simulated transmission oil leak to tell thieves “not worth the trouble”, with four mismatched wheels, one of them in school bus yellow, and a power radio antenna made out of a coat hanger)

  4. This place sounds like if when you drive up, the put in an order to steal one for you, but when it comes in, they can’t take it back?

  5. In an previous life I did auto body work. 2 reasons occur to me. First virtually everyone paints a new body panel. Even if it’s technically the same color, it won’t match perfectly which is especially true if it’s from a car 1 year newer or older, the paint shade changes even during the same model year. The other reason is that junk yards trade parts. They may have found one on the parts line and it’ll have to be shipped. You’ll probably be able to find a cheap shop that’ll shoot it for you for $100-$200. Although thanks to all the “free” money being handed out maybe these days you’ll have to pay a grand or 2.

    1. Right.
      It’s not a “Crazy Business Practice”.
      But person are talking to, may not know why the color probably
      won’t match. They just have rule they are suppose to follow, And sounds like a good rule to me. And doing the whole cars with same
      finish, probably best way to exactly “match” the color.

  6. I am amazed at how many auto junkyards employ the most terrible people in the world to work with. I have run into that at two places local to me, and there aren’t many to begin with… The worst was when I wanted a radio wiring harness out of a vehicle so I could re-use a factory radio. According to research online a model x or y vehicle from a couple year span would work. They said over the phone they had one such vehicle in that range, but then when I got there and I told them what I wanted, they said it wouldn’t work with my radio and refused to sell me the part, and was just plain ugly about it…

  7. I’d buy whatever door is cheapest no matter the color, as long as it’s functional, and paint the whole car. That’s the only way to assure uniformity. You don’t even have to pay for it. Just park it in East L.A., and it’ll be painted overnight. Not that you’ll like it, but hey…free paint.

    1. How do you know that would happen in East L.A.?

      I heard that “they” have moved all the people from Compton out to Riverside and that the people from East L.A. are now in South Central?

  8. Just to break out of the mold. The small town I grew up in had one particular salvage yard operator who was a really nice guy, let’s call him VH, who was friendly and convivial. He’d hang out at the local restaurant and everyone would always be buying coffee for him. But no one particularly cared, because he was always the ONE guy you could count on for coming up with those rare pointset contactors for that one-off year of a Blowforts 2-ton from 2 decades back where distributor was mounted sideways and ran counterclockwise.

    But he was small potatoes and made a living by getting by.
    The commercial yard dealers have by and large always operated as you experience. There are a lot of reasons. Mostly because they deal with people who are running just as close to the margins as they are and so it’s always a game of one up.

    Take the case of the poster above wanting the radio harness. If you phone an inquiry asking if you have an X-model between years of Y and Z and DON’T say what you are after, they cannot assume what it is you want and whether it is profitable for them to salvage it. They will say yes, hoping for the business. THEN when you show up and say exactly what it is you want, if it’s not something they’ve pulled before, they have to consider if the salvage value of the part is worth the effort and expense on their part to obtain it and sell it. In this case it seems clear the answer was no. Now if you had asked for the entire dash board, that might have been a different answer. But I’ve never heard of a commercial operation that would just let you go to one of their salvage yards and remove it yourself, because obviously most people are not going to be too conscientious about HOW they remove something and could cause more damage to the remaining vehicle than the salvaged part is worth. As far as inspections go, probably liability insurance issues up the wazoo. They can’t afford for the public to go rummaging around a property full of exposed metal, hazardous chemicals, and who knows what kind of wildlife. You’ve heard the expression junkyard dog? And that’s the owner’s pet!

    1. In the case of the wiring harness, it was a small local junkyard in a small city in a rural area…the guy was just a jerk. Probably no surprise they closed up shop not too long after that incident. I can certainly understand a larger operation and how they run being different.

  9. Rand – Either find a different vendor who’ll tell you the color but even then don’t expect the match to to be perfect – or just buy a door and pay a shop to paint it to match. The latter cost can range from a few hundred to a thousand-plus, depending on how good you want it to look. You get what you pay for (at least from a competent paint shop.)

    As others have said, if you’re expecting a nominally-silver door to actually match, you’ll likely be disappointed. Add to production variations the variable amounts of sun-fading and washing-wear, and the colors never quite match. And the one sure way to make even subtle color variations obvious is to place large areas of the subtly-varying colors side-by-side.

    IF you care (enough to pay for it) about the car not looking obviously like the door has been replaced, what you need is a GOOD paint shop where they are really skilled at mixing up and applying a batch of color-matched paint. It’s more art than science, and a reliably competent door-only job’ll cost mid hundreds of dollars. And they may well (honestly!) tell you they need to paint that whole side of the car to make it really blend in well – even with perfect color match the existing panels will have surface microscratches that’ll make them still look different in good light. Including the new door and install, that’s about a fifteen hundred dollar job. But from a good shop it’ll look great.

    You haven’t said whether this is insurance, or out-of-pocket, but I’m guessing out of pocket. Figure out what quality of color match you’re willing to pay for, and good luck. (I know a small shop in Phoenix that does a GREAT job matching colors, but that doesn’t do you much good in LA of course.)

    1. Yes, out of pocket. If I went to the insurance, I’m sure they’d just total the car. It’s a quandary, because I like the car, it runs great, and I enjoy driving it. But it needs a new gearbox in addition to the body work (it jumps out of reverse, probably a broken tooth on the idler), and it probably needs a clutch, too, though it’s perfectly drivable. The problem with the door is that it won’t open from the outside, though I can open it from the inside. But it’s hard to justify putting two or three grand into a twenty-year-old car with 180,000 miles on it that blue books at a couple thousand even without those issues. I may try to just straighten it out enough so that I can open it from the outside, and ignore the fact that it’s not pretty.

      1. Check out how much it’d set you back to buy a used car equivalent to your final result, before you dismiss putting two or three K into your current car. What you might sell it for is NOT the relevant comparison, it’s what it’d cost you to buy the equivalent end result.

        “I like the car, it runs great, and I enjoy driving it” sounds like you should replace the door without worrying about perfect paint, get the transmission overhauled, and go on enjoying it. Get a few more years out of it and the cost is dirt-cheap compared to replacing it.

  10. I suspect the real reason is two fold. First, they probably don’t really know what color the doors they have are. Once the part is separated from the VIN, which silver is it? And as pointed out above, even if the color code matches the actual color won’t.

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