Woman with mechanic

An App for Car Repairs: Openbay

There’s an app for almost everything, from doing your banking to finding the nearest fro-yo place. Openbay makes one of life’s less enjoyable tasks much less painful–it’s a new app for finding services for your car.

By Kimberly Phipps

Who loves car repairs?

woman in carMost women have something they enjoy shopping for. Ask any fashionista about her ensemble, and she will likely tell you where she got it, the best route to get to that store, and how she got it an extra $20 off the clearance price. If decorating is your thing, you can wander for hours looking for the perfect dining room table. And don’t even get our foodie friends started in a debate over which local farmers market has the best heirloom tomato selection.

But there is one thing that it’s safe to say that no one enjoys shopping for–car repairs and service. For women in particular, this task is fraught with unpleasantness. We’ve all seen the horrible exposés on the local news about how repair shops will rip a customer off, recommend things that aren’t necessary, and charge hundreds for a old, used part. As women, we often feel especially vulnerable–as if we walk into a car repair shop with a sign taped on our back that says, “Please overcharge me!!!”

Power shopping for tire rotation

Things have improved a bit in the internet age, but not by much. There are websites like Yelp that help a car owner look up reviews on the tire shop down the street, but its user-generated content is by nature opinionated. So the best most of us end up doing is Googling “car repair” hoping something will come up that is halfway reputable. But come on–this is 2014! There has to be a better way, right?

There’s a new tool that can help manage car maintenance issues, Openbay.com. It’s available online or as an iPhone app. After downloading and entering in basic info about your car, it keeps all of your service records stored. No more of that glovebox full of crumpled paper service records! Having a record of all your car service records electronically stored can also be helpful when it’s time to sell your car. When your car needs service or repair, you enter in what service you’re looking for or what kind of problems you’re experiencing with your vehicle into your phone. Users can also denote how much time they have for the service, distance from their home or office, and have options to seek out service providers that offer wi-fi, loaner cars, etc.

After the customer’s information is entered, multiple service providers will send offers to perform the service, as well as pricing info. Each Openbay service provider has an online profile detailing its offerings, as well as customer reviews and ratings. A map showing the geographic location of the service providers is given. Once you’ve decided on a location and an offer, you can select a shop and book the service. After the user enters her credit card info, the car is repaired either in the shop or with a mobile repair unit. Done and done! You enter in credit card info when booking the service, and it generates a code–so you won’t have to pay a dollar more at the shop. The user can then review the business and service for the benefit of future shoppers.

Since its initial pilot launch in Massachusetts last year, Openbay has signed up service providers nation-wide, and is now in 44 states. The app is free, and the service is free to the car owner. The shop pays Openbay 10% once the service is complete, so there’s no up-front cost for the shop or the vehicle owner.

Share This:

Leave a Comment