I never had that problem with Tony. We scoped work initially and set fees. I was 75 miles away, so maybe there were a couple of phone call if I had to make a decision. Tony was an artist and a hard worker. Too bad the black coffee and cigarettes caught up to him. He was handshake honest.Because that's just the way the body-shop business works! I don't mean to sound unkind, but you've been dealing with this project for going on 3 years and you haven't yet figured this out . . .? Sure, there are some shops that have incorporated the kind of customer communications we'd all like to see. A friend recently got a restored Nissan Figero from a UK restoration shop that dutifully kept him reliably informed of it's progress during a full year's work on the car. The car he got was absolutely flawless, despite being restored half a world away.
His experience was exactly the kind that we'd all like to have when getting a car restored. But that is not the norm. It's worth mentioning that body-shops from crash-repair shops to full-tilt restoration shops tend to draw their staffs from the same labor pool. Perfectly competent techs may have worked at Maaco last week before coming to work at a high-end Porsche resto-shop across town. And vice-versa. Body-shop guys tend to move around a lot. This means that, with rare exception, even great restoration shops share practices and expectations that you'll find in more mundane operations---and this includes customer relations. In a work-a-day body-shop environment the focus is on work on the shop floor---calling customers with progress updates is generally pretty far down on the shop's priority list.
Yes, I know shops will promise that keeping you informed of the work progress on your car is important to them and, while they may have perfectly good intentions in this respect, the practical realities of shop practices and economics often militate against actually picking up the phone at the end of a hard day or even harder week and actually calling you. That's why in my first post on this thread I stressed the importance of staying on top of your restoration by visiting the shop to personally inspect the work being done. As Jay says, the guys who regularly visit the shop generally get their cars fixed soonest. Like it or not, this is simply the way most, but not all, shops work.