Words In Review: Key quotes heard in the industry in 2010
compiled by John Yoswick
As a new year begins, here’s our annual review of what happened in the industry last year through a collection of some of the most memorable, important, interesting or enlightening quotes heard in the industry during 2010.
“While this operation is both commonly performed, and often necessary to produce quality repairs, SCRS recognizes that it continues to be a source of friction in the settlement of the repair, and felt obliged to work with all major paint manufacturers in an effort to clarify their positions on this operation.”
– from a Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ (SCRS) press release about automaker documentation it compiled on its website (www.scrs.com) on the need for the “colorsand and polish” procedure
“We immediately took some action with regard to that particular part, and we did a very quick test on our own, and we found that that particular part did not meet our standards.”
– Herb Lieberman of LKQ Corporation, speaking in January about the non-OEM part that industry trainer Toby Chess sawed through with a reciprocating saw, which Chess said indicated it was made of mild steel, unlike the ultra-high-strength steel OEM part it was designed to replace
“What about all the people who have (one of those parts) sitting on their car today? Whose responsibility is it to contact them to make sure they get their vehicle back in and have it taken care of?”
– SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg, in response to Lieberman
“We’re kind of at wits’ end to figure out the best way to handle that.”
– LKQ’s Rob Wagman, in response to questions about such a recall of a non-OEM part found not to be comparable with OEM
“(Although we are) not aware of any issues relative to (such parts) that appear in the CCC database, we are suspending our current policy on (them) effective immediately until we can gather additional information.”
– from a January statement by GEICO, saying it was no longer calling for the use of non-OEM bumper parts, a position subsequently taken by Esurance and MetLife as well
“I hope that after I get some legal counsel on this, I can come back to you and show you more of what I did find.”
– industry trainer Chess, saying at the April Collision Industry Conference (CIC) that he was not making another planned presentation on problems with non-OEM parts because he’d been threatened by a lawsuit if he did so
“If there’s a presentation up here that you find uncomfortable or you feel is wrong, that’s why the microphones (throughout the room) exist.”
– CIC Chairman Russ Thrall, condemning the threatened lawsuit against Chess
“LKQ believes that it is important for the consumer and the industry to receive relevant and accurate information, so we have communicated that message to the parties involved.”
– from a statement from LKQ Corporation following the April CIC meeting, in which it did not explicitly confirm or deny it was the source of threatened legal action against Chess
“I don’t care if you like LKQ or not, but what they did in quieting Toby Chess was absolutely necessary for our industry.”
– Jim Smith, a consultant in the non-OEM parts industry and treasurer of the Auto Body Parts Association (ABPA), speaking at the ABPA annual meeting last spring
“However, if you take a minute to think about how much time you lose every day due to unnecessary supplements, parts delays, etc., you quickly realize how much time we could all save ourselves by taking the time to submit an inquiry though the DEG any time we find incorrect data. It only takes a couple of minutes, and we take it from there.”
–Bud Center, administrator of the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG), on the need for the industry to use the DEG website (www.DEGweb.org) to submit questions or concerns about any of the Big Three estimating databases
“In reality, that number should be 10,000 or 20,000 by now if everybody who needed to use it did. The industry as a whole is complaining but they’re also accepting what is, as it is.”
– SCRS’ Schulenburg, when the DEG received its 2,500th database inquiry last June
“I think if we’re all being honest, the information providers have deviated from their original charter as transmitters of information, and have immersed themselves in the relationships between repairers and insurers. In doing so, they’re trying to serve multiple masters with different agendas. So common sense no longer prevails. Changing something from A to B, while logical, suddenly has other implications. And at the end of the day, that’s what keeps some of these things from happening.”
– New Jersey shop owner Nick Kostakis, a member of the DEG joint operating committee, saying that while the Big Three estimating companies have been responsive to DEG inquiries, they have been far less quick to address more “macro issues” the industry has brought to them, for example, through the CIC Database Committee
“The laws aren’t reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use, and several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk.”
– from research by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which found that cell phone and texting bans are not reducing accidents
“In testing what appear on the surface to be reasonably well-manufactured aftermarket bumpers, our laboratories discovered serious deficiencies in mechanical properties such as strength and metal hardness, material thickness, and fit. These deficiencies potentially place the driving public, who trust body shops to repair their vehicles with safe quality parts, at serious risk.”
– Jack Gillis of the Certified Automotive Parts Association, speaking early in 2010 as it developed a testing and certification program for non-OEM bumper parts
“Our business is insurance, and we are not equipped to draw general conclusions about the safety of a product.”
– from a State Farm statement to Congress when asked about whether it informed highway safety regulators back in 2007 of unexplained accelerator problems in Toyota and Lexus vehicles
“But in an industry that has always been a zero-sum game, where for me to win you have to lose, I just don’t see us making the progress that really can be made. It’s a mentality that needs to change.”
– John Edelen, who just retired as CEO of I-CAR, speaking last year about his concern that insurer-shop relations will lead to a continued “under-investment” in technical training
“We’ve been fighting each other and fighting the insurance industry, we’ve been hiring separate lobbyists and often dealing with the same issues but on our own. It hasn’t worked. It’s not going to change unless we group together.”
– Peter Hendrix, president of the Massachusetts Autobody Association, on his group’s 2010 merger with the Central Massachusetts Auto Rebuilders Association, and the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) of Massachusetts/Rhode Island.
“It’s basically a get-of-jail-free card for insurers. If something goes wrong and they are asked, ‘Why did you choose this body shop,’ just saying, ‘It’s cheap and it’s there,’ is not a very good answer to a court. But ‘I chose this body shop because it is independently-audited through this standards program,’ means you’ve taken the due care that a reasonable organization should do. I think that’s a big, big plus for insurers.”
– Chris Mann, publisher of Bodyshop Magazine in the United Kingdom, speaking of the formalized collision repair standards program in that country.
“It’s ultimately the repairer who would abide by the standards. When you have ‘stakeholders,’ there are special interests involved. There’s a lot of skepticism out there about abiding by repair standards that are developed by other entities with vested interest in how they want us to act.”
– SCRS’ Schulenburg, expressing concern about the concept of “all stakeholders” being given a voice in the development of formalized collision repair standards in the U.S.
“Developing standards for the collision repair industry does not need to involve insurers, database providers or anybody else but those people touching that car. The body shop person already is standing side by side with an insurer who is saying, ‘Yeah, I know that’s the right way to repair the car, but we won’t pay for it.’ That’s BS.”
– CIC Administrator Jeff Hendler, also speaking about the industry standards development process
“Right now you only have the option of agreeing to let them collect and aggregate your data, or else you go back to hand-writing estimates.”
– SCRS’ Schulenburg, criticizing the lack of data privacy protections for shops in the agreements they must sign with the information providers to use their estimating and shop management systems
"There's too much unknown to recommend them.”
– David Zuby, a chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, quoted in Consumer Reports last summer speaking about non-OEM structural parts
“For example, providing notice to a claimant, either verbally or in writing, that implies the claimant may be responsible for paying for certain repair costs if the claimant chooses a repair facility that is not on the insurer’s list of preferred repair facilities, may be in conflict (with Texas regulations).”
– from a bulletin issued last summer by the Texas Insurance Commission reminding insurer that state law prohibits them from “directly or indirectly” limiting auto insurance coverage by limiting the policyholder from selecting a shop
"While the repair shops contracted with Ameriprise may have done good work, the anti-steering law ensures that consumers, not insurance carriers, are in the driver's seat to decide where they want repairs done.”
– Marcy Morrison, Colorado’s insurance commissioner, in announcing a $71,000 fine against Ameriprise Auto Insurance for illegally steering 711 consumers to its preferred shops over a 40-month period
"Don't let your insurance company pressure you into using aftermarket collision repair body parts, especially safety-related ones. If your car has already been repaired, check your invoices or ask your insurer to see whether aftermarket parts were used. If knockoffs were used, demand that they be replaced with original equipment."
– from Consumer Reports’ 2010 report on car insurance released this past fall
“It's widely known licensed repairers often aren't the ones fixing these (totals) with legitimately-sourced parts because it isn't financially viable. These new laws put to an end the ability for unscrupulous people to cosmetically repair written-off vehicles and sell them."
– an Australian official, speaking of New South Wales’ new laws prohibiting a vehicle that has been declared a total loss by an insurer from ever being registered again
“The manufacturers control testing.”
– Bob Frayer of NSF International, explaining his company’s new parts certification program for non-OEM parts, which does not directly test the parts’ compatibility with OEM but instead audits that the parts manufacturers have had such testing done
“At that point, too, the EPA may be very interested to know why there are, say, 57,000 registered shops but only, say, 31,000 with EPA permits. The Internal Revenue Service will be interested to know why there are 57,000 shops registered but only 28,000 with federal tax ID numbers. And at that point, we can take back control of who’s fixing cars.”
– Hendler, on his efforts to make registration with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) a requirement for all body shops
"We certainly want to promote a system that lets consumers choose the repair shops they want, rather than respond to insurer demands or pressure.”
– Kansas lawmaker Ruth Teichman, on the effort by a committee of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) to draft anti-steering legislation that states could then use as a model
"We have a good reg, and now we need strong enforcement around the country."
– Bob Redding of the Automotive Service Association (ASA), saying the association is calling on the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) to ensure shops are complying with the new refinish regulation in effect as of this month
“We stopped calling each other competitors. We’re all colleagues. Start using that word. In every other profession in this world, they all stick together. You’d talk to a colleague every day, but everyone’s afraid to talk to their competitors. No more competitors. We’re all colleagues.”
– Shop owner Bob Skrip of the Auto Body Association of Connecticut, speaking about a change the association has pushed for in that state
Every year, CRASH editors assemble a compilation of some of the most memorable, important, interesting or enlightening quotes heard in the industry during the past 12 months. Read more quotes from years past.