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Addressing Anti-trust
Georgina:
Nice article on Anti-trust [Editor’s Notes, May, pg. 6]. Just read it while I ate my lunch. If my so-called competitors wouldn’t be so afraid of their own shadow (Puxatawney Phil would be ashamed!), maybe the industry could move forward. Charge what you need to charge; the rest will figure itself out.
Pete Petursson, owner
Precision Auto Body L.L.C.
Manassas Park, Va.

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The Rental Car Roller Coaster
I enjoyed reading Andy Batchelor’s article on the car rental business in conjunction with a body shop operation in the May 2004 issue of BSB [pg. 46]. I’ve operated a similar rental car business for about 10 years with mostly mixed results. Like Andy, my main focus is on making money in the body shop, and I use my rentals to help entice customers and as a convenience. A customer who doesn’t have rental coverage is offered a rental at half price. If he can’t afford that, I offer him an old “beater” for free.

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One thing I always insist on is that the customer have full-coverage insurance. With this in place and documented, my potential for liability is diminished to a great extent. If I’m repairing his vehicle, I don’t need any security to cover his deductable since his vehicle in my possession is security enough. However, when I rent a vehicle to Joe Public, I insist he produce a valid credit card (not a debit card) as security.

One thing Andy didn’t mention that’s a major drawback and probably the biggest negative aspect that I experience is good, old insurance company steering. It seems several large insurers have a financial interest in or some kind of DRP arrangement with a major auto rental company I’ll call “Winnerprise.”

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Whether the customers are an insured or third-party claimant, their first call after an accident is usually to the insurance company. From there, they’re oftentimes given the standard DRP steering treatment toward the body shop of the insurance company’s choice and – if a “temporary replacement” vehicle is going to be provided, the customer is immediately set up with a Winnerprise rental car.

I’m sure Andy experiences this situation all the time but didn’t mention it because of his heavy participation as a DRP body shop location. (See BSB May 2003).

Rick Little, owner, Rick’s Auto Sales and Service, Inc./Goodcents Auto Rental Inc.
Coshocton, Ohio

Response from writer Andy Batchelor: … I agree that some of the major insurers have agreements with the rental car giants, and many of the deals are tiered. The more rentals, the better the discount, so that kind of forces the insurer to use the structured deal for economy of volume. Farmers Insurance has gone so far as to negotiate a $300 price for every rental no matter if it’s one day or 35 days. Farmers is worried about unknown cost, so at $300 per rental, they can figure a fixed cost for rentals. … I don’t have trouble renting to all insurers. Our pricing is lower than the competition, so we tell agents they can rent from their giant-sized supplier or they can rent from us and save their company money. As you said, the money is in the repair so I don’t get all hung up on the price. I never thought of it as steering, and I’m not going to let those thoughts get in my way of my customer relations and controlling the total experience for my customer.

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That’s a Match!
… When I read something as outrageous as Mike Muir’s “That’s a Match” [May, pg. 70], I just have to unzip my lips. First, I don’t ever remember the “good old days” when paint wasn’t expected to match. … Any decent collision repair shop would not release a car with paint that didn’t match. Even on the old, red Hondas where the paint would fade so fast and so evenly it was impossible to blend a correct mix and make it look right, you could still make the new paint blendable by using some creative tinting techniques.

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But most importantly, insurance company personnel read this magazine. We’re trying to raise the bar with respect to quality and what operations insurers pay for. To suggest that blending into a sail panel is still an acceptable practice is irresponsible. Today’s clearcoats cannot – and should not – be blended. Sure, you can make the blend look good at delivery, but that blend is guaranteed to fail. The article should have shown readers the proper way to blend a quarter panel with no break line – by clearing the roof and other quarter panel. The method described in this article is contrary to industry standards, and I don’t believe any paint manufacturer would stand behind it when it fails.

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There are still insurance companies pushing this type of hack repair (despite what their employees have learned during their extensive I-CAR training). Mr. Muir has just given these companies false reinforcement for their ignorant position that this type of repair is acceptable. On behalf of the educated collision repair industry, thank you. Thank you very much!
John Shortell, body shop manager
Secor’s Collision Technology
New London, Conn.

Response from writer Mike Muir: This article was about blending technique and wasn’t meant to be a debate on whether or not blending of clear should take place. Sometimes there’s no choice.

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I agree with your article on blend techniques 100 percent. I have to laugh because I relate to the Ford photo. Your techs must have spent a lot of time masking off those roof racks! Perhaps the owner left with the locking rack keys? A few tenths would’ve covered R&I. As it appears, much more creative masking time was spent. … We’ve all been there, done that.
Chris Towner
DBA/Lower Cape Auto Body
Cape Cod, Mass.

Response from Mike Muir: You’re correct. We didn’t have any keys for the roof rack, so blending was our only option. The customer had left the car the night before and left for a week vacation. Normally we would’ve cleared to the roof ditch, but in this instance, we had no choice. Since this article was about blending techniques, I felt it was a good picture to show that sometimes you do have to blend your clear. Unfortunately, we can’t always clear to the panel’s edge.

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