Shop Operations: Expanding Your Body Shop: Planning is Key
Approximately 30 parties hoping to prohibit State Farm from forcing any shop in Mississippi to use PartsTrader.
Approximately 30 parties, mostly Mississippi body shop owners, have filed an injunction against State Farm and PartsTrader with the goal of prohibiting the insurer from forcing any shop in Mississippi to use PartsTrader.
The plaintiffs include the Mississippi Collision Repair Association (MCRA) and shop owners including Bill Fowler of Bill Fowler’s Bodyworks in Southaven, Miss., and John Mosley of Clinton Body Shop in Clinton, Miss., two repairers who have been highly visible in the fight against PartsTrader.
“When State Farm first announced PartsTrader was a test, the Mississippi Collision Repair Association, after we studied it, saw it as an unwelcome intrusion into our industry and individual businesses and made it clear that we were opposed to it,” said Mosley. “George Avery announced to us that there will come a time in the near future where someone will sit across from your desk and describe this program to you, and you will make a decision as to whether this program is good for your business or not. And for those of you who choose not to follow the program, you will quickly become irrelevant to State Farm. But this isn’t about State Farm, it’s about our mutual customers. The only way we cannot do business with State Farm is to not have those customers in our shops, and we have no intention of losing any customer that each of us have built our business to serve. We intend to fight to keep our right to free enterprise.”
According to Mosley, the plaintiffs are using the 1963 Consent Decree as a basis for their actions. They feel it is as enforceable today as it was in 1963 and forbids the type of the practice they say State Farm is engaging in.
“We’re saying it’s tortious interference in our relations with our customers,” Mosley said.
If the injunction passes, Mosley hopes other states will use it as a template to seek similar action. He said he’s willing to share it with them and is encouraging repairers to contact him or any member of MCRA, or their attorney John Eaves Jr. at [email protected].