Sherwin-Williams Customer Service Is Color Blind, Now My Car Looks Crazy

A Sherwin-Willams’ store incompetence totally messed up Fred’s car. Look at that hood front quarter and nose fascia..

Fred brought his car’s paint code in to Dale’s in Colorado Springs, a Sherwin-Williams paint store. Dale’s gave him a can and Fred painted his car. When Fred removed the masking, he discovered Dale’s put the wrong paint in the can. Now it looks like he got his front quarter from a junkyard.

Fred contacted Sherwin customer service. They bitchslapped Dale’s. The owner of Dale’s agreed to pay for Fred’s car to be repainted. But they just never seem to have gotten around it to. This was October, and now it’s too cold in Colorado for Fred to repaint his car. The store has stopped returning his calls and Sherwin-Williams is also unresponsive.

Fred just wants the Sherwin-Williams store to honor the agreement for the mistake it already lived up to. We’re gonna try siccing intern Dyan on this case. You can read Fred’s letter and correspondence inside…

Fred writes:

    “Hi Consumerist,

    I have a sad story.

    My goal was to paint two panels on my car. It seemed like it would be easy to match the color. I went to Dale’s Paint in Colorado Springs. The guy at Dale’s told me where to get the paint code off the car. The code on the can was identical to the number on an old can I had of the exact same type of Sherwin-Williams paint, which matched the car perfectly. But the color of the paint in the can that Dale’s paint sold me was not what the paint code said it would be. I did not find out about their mistake until removing the masking after I painted the car, (see attached picture.)

    I went back to Dale’s and showed them the paint left in the can. They agreed the color was wrong, but all they would do was give me a can of the right color, which I wouldn’t be able to use for six months because it was now too cold to paint outside. (It snowed three days after the car was painted)

    Next I e-mailed the customer service address on the Sherwin-Williams web site. They responded (see below) and then the owner of Dales paint called almost immediately. He said they would arrange to have my car repainted the right color, but it would take a week or two to set up. He kept pushing the time out, and finally he quit returning my calls. Later I replied to all the addresses on the e-mail from Sherwin-Williams and told them Dales had done nothing, but they never responded.

    Hope you can use this on your web site. Potential customers should know about paint salesmen that are color-blind.


Fred’s emails with Sherwin and Dale’s are below.

    “—– Forwarded by Tracy C. Holbury/CLE/Sherwin-Williams on 10/19/2006 09:14 AM —–
    10/18/2006 06:05 PM
    Subject: Sherwin-Williams Auto Paint Color Match

    Thought you would be interested in this. On October 2, I went to Dale”s Paint & Supply in Colorado Springs with my 1986 Cougar. We got the paint code number, 9L, off the door and I bought everything I needed to finish painting the repair job. They recommended a Sherwin-Williams basecoat/clear coat product for best color match. The basecoat was SHE-U7-PT Ultrabase, labeled with part number 33631. It looked good going on, covered well and I didn’t get any runs, even thought the air temperature was lower than optimum. Every thing was great until I took the masking off and found out the color didn’t match.

    I have an old can of the same type of paint, same number and funny thing it matches the original color.

    I went back to Dales, (an hour drive from my house) and they agreed the color was wrong. They offered me a new can of paint. That is not a solution to my immediate problem. We now have snow on the ground. It won’t be warm enough to paint for possibly six months. Besides even if I could do it, I’m not thrilled about sanding the clear coat off, masking the whole thing just so I can cover up their mistake. And what guarantee is there that the color will be right this time.

    My wife and I would appreciate any help you can give us. Our car looks ridiculous.

    Fred M.
    Rush, Colorado

    —– Forwarded by Chris C. Stevens/CST/Sherwin-Williams on 10/19/2006 11:59 AM —–
    Tracy C. Holbury
    10/19/2006 08:10 AM
    To:,, Chris C. Stevens/CST/Sherwin-Williams@SWCBD
    cc: Brian A. Oakley/PST/Sherwin-Williams@SWCBD
    Subject: Sherwin-Williams Auto Paint Color Match

    I received this e-mail here in Customer Service in Warrensville. According to the records I see in the System Admin.screen that I have access to, it looks like Dale’s Paint and Supply is a jobber out of the Littleton, CO branch and the rep.who has Dale’s as his customer (Thomas Call) would need to contact Dale’s and see if he can help address this situation with the customer (Fred Matthews) who purchased our paint from Dale’s. I will respond to the customer letting him know I have forwarded his e-mail to the sales rep and branch who service Dale’s and that someone will respond to him further. Please let me know who will contact the customer so I can keep it in our records here that we are required to keep on file for customer complaints that we receive through our department.

    Thank you.

    Tracy Holbury
    Customer Service Manager

    —–Original Message—–
    From: []
    Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2006 12:14 PM
    To: Fred Matthews
    Subject: Sherwin-Williams Auto Paint Color Match


    I’m sorry to hear about the color match problem on your cougar. I am the Area Sales Manager for colorado. I have notified the sales rep who calls on Dale’s Paint and will be in contact with the owners of Dale’s to try to find an acceptable solution for you.

    Thank you.

    Chris Stevens

Dale’s Paint Supply Co
515 N Circle Dr
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
(719) 636-2635



Edit Your Comment

  1. iamjames says:

    three words will fix this fast: small claims lawsuit.

    1) Call automotive paint places and get estimates for good full paint job (probably $1,000+)

    2) Go to local courthouse and file small claims lawsuit for cost of full paint job. Lawsuit costs ~$50 if you get the sheriff to deliver it, and I highly recommend you get the sheriff to deliver the lawsuit because he’ll show up at the store in the middle of the day in full uniform asking for the store owner (you can get business owner’s name from Better Business Bureau)

    3) in a week or two you’ll get a phone call from the store begging to give you whatever you want to drop the lawsuit.

    I’ve used this many times with great success. The businesses that don’t comply end up having the store owner, manager and whatever staff was on duty show up for court and sit there for 3+ hours and still lose.

  2. AcidReign says:

    …..That car looks like a mid-80s Mercury Cougar, and it’s in pretty good shape visually, even with the two-tone Mary-Kay paint job! I loved the look of this car, but I settled for a T-bird, because I couldn’t get a V-8 Cougar in my area, for any price. (I ran the wheels off of mine, and am now driving a boring 4-cylinder import sedan. Costs a lot less at the pump, though!)

    …..Kelley Blue Book, these days, on that sort of car is less than $2000, which makes claims on it iffy. They could possibly even total it, claiming prior damage in court. You’d be out the car, and maybe with a $500 check. Good luck with those legal fees.

    …..My advice is to keep bugging the store. In person. Make sure and bring the car. Park it outside the front window. Point out the ugly paint job in front of customers. This will work better than a lawsuit. Lawsuits involve lawyers, who are schooled in making non-lawyer opponents [you]look bad.

  3. weave says:

    Since you said “two panels” I assume that means the new paint is the front and forward left quarter panel. I’m no expert on paint, but is it possible due to the age of the car that the original color had faded and that caused the mismatch?

    This might be a stupid question, but if I’m wondering about it, a judge might ask the same question.

  4. Charles Duffy says:


    Regular lawsuits may involve lawyers, but small-claims doesn’t; a business which is party needs to send a non-lawyer representative (say, a manager or such). It’s also a much less formal process than is typical.

    I’m in agreement with the small-claims suggestion.

  5. mfergel says:

    Weave is right. Paint fades horribly over time. That’s an early 80’s Cougar. Even if they gave him the right paint, it would never match due to color fading. Sherwin-Williams would actually need to do a computerized color match by scanning a part off his car (like the fuel door) in order to get an exact match. That’s why body shops blend paint into adjoining panels instead of just painting damaged panels only……and that’s why you can always notice mismatched paint on even new vehicles.

  6. DeeJayQueue says:

    Yeah, it’s definately not the hood that’s been painted, it’s the front quarter and the nose fascia.

    I agree with the other comments, the car’s 20 years old, there’s no way the factory paint number will match it, you’d have to get them to use a spectrometer on the car to get the exact color mix.

    I’d say bug them for another can (or 4) of paint and just repaint the whole car yourself.

    It’s not SW’s fault that new paint simply doesn’t match 20 year old sun-baked paint.

  7. wilzy5 says:

    It’s not totally Sherwin William’s fault. I had to repair some panels on a 1989 Thunderbird with the same paint code (9L). Ford uses this paint color at many different factories in the US and Canada and the colors are not exactly the same at each factory, even though the code is the same. When I originally painted my car with the pre-mixed paint I got from Dupont, I had the same result, the new paint was nowhere near what was on the car. A trip back to the Dupont store confirmed there were about 6 different variants of the 9L paint code. I bought another can that was closer, but not exact, and ended up blending the two together, plus adding more tint to get an exact match. Believe it or not, white is one of the hardest colors to match. In defense of Fred, Sherwin Williams should be aware of the variants of the 9L paint code.

  8. Ben Popken says:

    Mitchell writes:

    “That looks like a pretty old car, meaning it has seen more than its fair share of weather. Now, it’s entirely possible that Sherwin Williams messed up, but it’s also possible that the color of the paint is actually the color the car was when its paint was brand-new. As you know, paint tends to fade after years in the sun (some people say “oxidizes,” but I’m not sure if that’s a good word for it). I’ve seen cars (including one of my own) that were repaired and repainted after accidents and the difference in color was ridiculously far-off.

    The solution was a can of rubbing compound, which can be found at any auto parts store. There’s a bit of rubbing compound in auto wax, but probably not enough for the job here. You use rubbing compound just the way you use wax: rub it on, let it dry, rub it off. It takes a layer of the old paint off the car, revealing the original color of the paint beneath.

    Before he spends any more frustration on this matter, please tell Fred at least to try the rubbing compound. It could be that he’s still got a complaint, or it could be that all he’ll have to do is a bit of waxing on and waxing off.”

  9. mrmysterious says:

    This picture may be deceiving. If he is using a normal consumer point and shoot digital camera then the white balance may be off by quite a bit.

    It looks bad in the pictures, but I’m in agreement with posters above that say that the original paint is faded and the new paint is not matching because of the amount of fade. Then put the incorrect white balance on top of that and you have this picture.

  10. Ran Kailie says:

    I’m in agreement with all of the above posts, there is a reason good body shops do color matching and don’t just use the color number on your car to paint it. Paint and color fades over time from exposure to sun, salt, etc.

    He should try the rubbing compound mentioned, it can work, the other option is just sucking it up, saving yourself the head ache, and just getting a full body paint job, or a custom paint job for those parts at a body shop. Its not that expensive if you know how to talk to the people.

    I had my whole care done by a professional shop a few years ago for about $550 bucks.

  11. Ben Popken says:

    Thing is, regardless of oxidation, Sherwin and Dale’s promised to repaint Fred’s car, and then failed to do so and started to duck his calls.

  12. Gopher bond says:

    I think that car looks better that way. Add some striping and you’d have a pretty mean looking Cougar.

  13. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Even if the paint on the car has faded, Fred said he had a can of paint w/ the number on it, which matched his car. He also said that the store that sold him the paint admited the paint in the can did not match the number on the can. Yes, even with the exact color, you’d be able to notice a difference between the old and new paint…but not THIS big a difference. That isn’t just faded, it is two different colors.

  14. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    I actually am color blind, and it looks fine to me.

    Also, I am horribly offended at your insensitive headline.

    SIKE (sic).

  15. ddrager says:

    Call me crazy, but shouldn’t have Fred done a “patch test” on a small, un-noticeable area of the car? I’m pretty sure most paint cans state this. There are so many chemicals in paint that it is very easy for a color to be off – not to mention any fading that the old color has had.

    I’m actually surprised that Dale’s agreed to pay for the repainting of the car – but if they did so, then they should honor that.

  16. LowestCommonDenominator says:

    I’m with ddrager. That’s not even remotely close to the same color. Was he painting in the dark?

  17. mfergel says:

    More than anything else, if he’s being so particular about his car, why is he painting it with spray cans? Is he truly expecting a car with a paint job that has faded over 20 years to look good using spray cans?…..even if the color had matched.

  18. acambras says:

    I agree with Ben that if Sherwin and Dale’s agreed to repaint the car, they should honor that promise.

    Funny story. I used to have a 1965 Nova — powder blue. We called the car Mildred. After a wreck, I had to have some minor body and paint work done on the car, so I opted to get the whole car repainted (same powder blue). When the body shop ran the paint code, it turned out that the original color was turquoise, and that over the decades, the car’s paint had oxidized that much. (I ended up getting them to match the existing powder blue — it seemed like part of the car’s personality).

  19. Clampants says:

    Could I aske what that little train is in the background?

  20. fredkm says:

    The main problem with the paint coior match was caused by Dales mixing the paint incorrectly. Dales never disagreed that it was their mistake.

    Typically when paint fades it becomes lighter, and the effect is more noticable on darker colored cars. The original paint on the car is darker and has a more reddish tint, a difference which could not be caused by fading.

    Out of desparation at the time I tried buffing the old paint, but it just makes it more shiny, not lighter and less reddish.

    When the new paint was applied, the old paint was completely covered by masking. The paint was sprayed outside using filtered compressed air and a Binks automotive spray gun.

    I agree that painting a test patch would have identified the problem, a good idea for the future.

    I built the train a few years ago for my kids. It is made from scrap 2×6 boards and two 55 gallon drums

    Thanks for your interest


  21. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Oh yeah, I just noticed the train. Very cool.

  22. kenposan says:

    Everyone is noting how SW is not at fault because the car is old, yada, yada. Had that been noted BEFORE they agreed to paint the car that would have been a good arguement.

    The point is now that SW agreed to paint the car and haven’t. It’s two different issues.

  23. swlll says:

    The way I read this is that Sherwin Williams did not agree to repaint the car, The said they would get with the jobber to see if they could solve this problem. If Dales mixed the paint wrong then they are the ones who should be responsible for fixing it. If the paint formula is wrong then Sherwin Williams would be at fault. I agree with other that the smart thing to do would be to test the color before painting. I also agree that they shpuld fix the problem having agreed to do so.