A Mississippi body shop owner has written George Avery of State Farm to express his concerns over the insurer's new parts procurement program and thank him for unifying collision repairers over their opposition to the program.
John Mosley, who owns and operates Clinton Body Shop Inc. in Central Mississippi, has been outspoken in his opposition to PartsTrader over the past several weeks and last voiced his concerns at a meeting held in Jackson, Miss., on May 23 that featured the Mississippi Attorney General and a representative of the Mississippi Insurance Department.
Mosley's letter reads as follows:
Dear Mr. Avery,
I write you on behalf of the entire collision repair industry.
My name is John E. Mosley and I own and operate Clinton Body Shop Inc. and Clinton Body Shop of Richland in Central Mississippi. I am a proud member of the Mississippi Collision Repair Association and a member of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists.
Our industry has been paying a lot of attention to your affiliation with the PartsTrader program and the potential impact it may have on our industry and ultimately the consumer.
Many of us in the collision repair industry admit we have become dependent on direct repair programs over the last several years. Now that you have released this program as a pilot in some states, our first reaction could only be described as fear and shock.
It would suffice to say that the emotions of fear and shock have served to make shop owners including myself think about what the repair industry really means to you and your company as a whole. This program is now serving as a catalyst to both ignite and unite this industry in a manner I have never experienced in my 58 years.
For your assistance in making this industry I love think about being better business people and better neighbors to our competitors, I sincerely thank you. The employees of the collision repair shops thank you in advance. I, as well as many others, have now begun to look at my business model in a different way. We are now realizing the true value the repair industry has been to your company and our customer. You have far less employees in our area and, I would suspect, most areas of the country. You haven’t needed them as we do a lot of the work for your company. We haven’t minded providing this service and savings to you because the Select Service program has helped each shop by saving time waiting on appraisers. In the past, the Select Service program has allowed the shop to determine what type of part and which supplier would serve to properly repair the vehicle in the least amount of time. This process was beneficial to all three parties involved in the process. The three parties I speak of are the customer, the repairer and State Farm Insurance.
After lengthy discussions with shop owners and parts suppliers in Alabama, I see no way this program is a benefit to the repair shop or the consumer. The underlying purpose of this program is for State Farm to make a higher profit at the expense of the collision repair industry and the parts industry. You present this program as a tool of efficiency serving to expedite repairs. I ask you, do you think that little of repair shop owners' and managers' mentality? How can any program that adds to the administrative process by gathering bids, waiting for those bids before we can begin repairs, only to be waiting again when we have a supplement, add to efficiency? There is no way.
It is both disappointing and quite frankly shameful of you to attempt this manipulative assault on our industry. This industry has formed bonds of good faith and friendship with many within your company. Our industry will work to preserve and strengthen those bonds with the State Farm agents and employees with whom we have formed these mutually respectful relationships.
The collision repair industry is not your enemy. Neither are we your puppets or your children. You can’t successfully threaten us or punish us into submission by removing us from the Select Service list if we refuse to participate in this one-sided, unfair program.
I ask you and the others in managerial roles who have control of this situation to stop and reconsider the effect this pilot program is having on your company and our industry. These same effects are being felt by consumers who don’t deserve it. Stop and think about the most powerful companies that have fallen in recent years. Think about WorldCom, Enron and the other Wall Street giants who no longer exist. Think about how the government had to bail out General Motors. Think about the enormous unrest you are about to release in your industry as well as ours. This in itself will be a huge cost to your company. Just as sure as there may be some shops waiting to take advantage of a shop’s removal from the Select Service program, there are insurance companies waiting to take your unhappy customers.
Your company made itself successful and famous by promising to be a good neighbor. Good neighbors don’t take these type of actions against others without regard to the resulting consequences. Everyone wants to make a profit. Money can be a dangerous thing. It can blind a person to the point they can’t see right from wrong. When that happens to a large company, it is called corporate greed. Don’t fall any deeper into this than you already have. Please stop, think and let’s work together to help our industries benefit the customer without destroying the very core of this country, the small business person.
I write you this plea as a business owner and a member of the collision repair industry. No other business has conspired or construed with me to contact you. I am not asking you to think what you are about to do to me or my business, but to my brothers in this industry. Make no mistake, we are a brotherhood. Because of this program, we are quickly forming stronger bonds than you or I would have ever imagined. You may have your way with some of us, but rest assured, the majority of us are educating and preparing for business life off your programs if you continue. Do you really want to do this to our industry? Can your company survive the negative publicity this will ultimately create? Is this fair to the State Farm agents who have truly been good neighbors?
As this program hasn’t been released in our area, it is my desire to keep our shops on the Select Service program. We will continue to make good repairs and provide excellent service to our mutual customer and to hold ourselves up to a high professional level in all our mutual relations. If you decide otherwise, we will continue to build our relationships with our local State Farm agents, their employees and our State Farm customers. There are no bad feelings toward our local claims people. They are good people doing what they are paid to do.
There is a big difference in being mad and being disappointed. We hold the hope and faith you will do the right thing. I just wonder when and at what cost.
John E. Mosley
CC Attorney General - Jim Hood
Ms. Insurance Commissioner - Mike Chaney
Anthony Simon PLLC
State Farm Claims Vice President - Susan Hood
Mississippi Repairers Meet to Discuss State Farm Parts Procurement Program