One of John Borek’s favorite quotes is a well-known one from Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Borek, general manager of Autocraft Bodywerks Inc. in Austin, Texas, took that quote to heart recently when he filed criminal trespass charges against a particularly troublesome appraiser. While many in the collision repair industry might consider this an extreme measure, Borek disagrees.
“What’s extreme is arguing and arguing over the same thing time and time again,” he said. “I understand that some people may think [filing criminal trespass charges] is bad, but at the end of the day, you can’t just keep doing the same thing. It’s like a child when you tell a kid not to do something and they do it, there has to be consequences.”
In Texas, as a property owner, Borek says he has the right to file criminal trespass charges against someone. A process server then serves them papers and basically tells them, “If you come back to this particular address again, you will be arrested by the Austin Police Department.” The letter from his attorney on the most recent filing stated:
I represent Autocraft Bodywerks Inc. Please take notice that you are forbidden from entering the property occupied by Autocraft Bodywerks Inc., including that property located at 5411 Wasson Road, Austin, Travis County, Texas, 78745.
It does not matter what your intended business is appraising vehicle damage, repairs, estimates or anything else DO NOT STEP ONTO AUTOCRAFT’S PROPERTY.
If you enter onto the property occupied or owned by Autocraft Bodywerks Inc., you will be committing criminal trespass and will be subject to prosecution under Texas law, including Texas Penal Code 30.05. The police will be called to arrest you if you come onto Autocraft’s property. Your criminal trespass crime would be a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail or both.
This tactic, Borek says, has worked in that it spreads the message that certain behavior won’t be tolerated.
“Word gets out, and what I’ve learned especially if [the appraisers] are independent is that it gets their attention because it keeps them from making a living. If they have another assignment here two weeks from now, they can’t come and do it. And they’re basically keeping me from making a living if all they want to do is argue.”
And arguing is what it comes down too, said Borek.
“If some appraiser comes out and all he wants to do is argue with you, it really is just a waste of my time. I’ve been here for 30 years, and I really value my time. I just can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect it to be different. History has a way of repeating itself.”
Borek has only filed such an action three times. And it’s only a last resort. Typically, he will inform the appraiser’s manager first, tell him they have an issue and request a different appraiser to come out.
“Sometimes a guy will come out and say, ‘I think that fender can be straightened,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t think so,’” said Borek. “I say, ‘How many cars have you repaired?’ And they say, ‘I’ve never repaired a car in my life,’ and I say, ‘Well, I’ve repaired over 100 of that particular car and been here for 30 years and you’re telling me how to fix that car?’ They don’t know that other shops have brought this particular car to us because the bumper is popping off because it was repaired on the fender. But you can’t explain that to them; they know it all.”
Ever since filing the criminal trespass charges against the appraiser, the insurer has been sending someone else out, and Borek says they get along great. In another case, he had an issue with an appraiser, so another appraiser came along and asked if it was okay if the original appraiser could come back out, and Borek said yes. Borek’s point is that he doesn’t have a quick trigger when it comes to filing such an action, and it’s only when all other options have been exhausted.
Borek says a lot of appraisers will blame their company for not being able to pay for a certain procedure, but he doesn’t feel this is a good excuse.
“In 30 years, I’ve learned that most good appraisers have a way of making everyone happy if they just use their talent,” he said.
Borek says his hard-line stance against appraisers who want to fight over necessary repair procedures hasn’t hurt business. Even though his shop doesn’t have any DRPs, it grossed $4 million last year and is Lexus and Tesla certified.
“Our model is to give exceptional customer service,” he said. “We clean the car like brand-new, where three detailers spend an average of four man-hours each on every vehicle. People write us letters about how clean their car was. That’s our niche. Do we advertise? No. It’s the way we detail cars.”
Borek wishes more shops would fight for their business like he does.
“If more people did what I’m doing and these [appraisers] had five shops they couldn’t go to in a town, guess what? They’re always going to decide to work versus be shut out. Let’s meet halfway. You want to repair the fender, we’re going to replace it. Just pay us cost on the fender. Let’s move on.”