an iga viewpoint
Windshield Bullies: Just
Who Are They?
by Alan Epley
Without question, we all work in an auto glass repair and replacement
industry that is subject to adversity and just recently became an industry
subjected to name calling. The matter to which I refer is the phrase “windshield
bullies”—a reference to those individuals that are directly engaged in
the marketing of windshield repair and replacement services at places
such as car washes, convenience stores and gas stations (see related story
on page 22). Before
I proceed, let me say unequivocally that I do not condone insurance fraud,
by shops, policyholders, insurers or anyone—period. And I believe that
any party that is convicted of insurance fraud must be punished to the
fullest extent of the law.
But just what is the definition of a “windshield bully?” Is it a name
that only pertains to any person who engages in the direct marketing of
windshield repair and replacement at car washes, convenient stores, gas
stations, etc.? In order to make certain that I understand this correctly,
does this name apply to any legitimate company engaged in the practice
that may be applying high-pressure sales tactics but is not committing
fraud? The real question is: is the windshield in question actually in
need of repair or replacement? But in a recent article written about the
subject, one company was quoted as saying, “they use aggressive—and in
some cases fraudulent—tactics to solicit vehicle glass claims ...” This
leads me to conclude that this company believes that these folks should
be labeled “bullies” whether they are committing fraud or not. Respectfully,
“Does the name
windshield bully only pertain to a person who engages in the direct marketing
of windshield repair and replacement at car washes, convenient stores,
gas stations, etc.?”
Therefore, it is worthy to expand this discussion by examining whether
the name “bully” can be applied elsewhere in the industry. Are there other
operators in the industry who use high-pressure tactics to achieve desired
results? Do they use tactics that may not be fraudulent but rather “questionable?”
What brought about these so-called bullies in the first place, and why
is the direct marketing of windshield repair and replacement increasing
How about if we begin by scrutinizing the operations of the third-party
administrators (TPAs)? Is it possible that the companies engaging in direct
marketing are trying to secure customers before policyholders report the
claim through a process that is designed to steer as many claims as possible
to shops owned by the TPAs or preferred by insurers? Does direct marketing
of these services enable legitimate shops to service insurance claims
without having the telephone hung up on them? Does direct marketing of
these services enable legitimate shops to secure business that would otherwise
be steered away on the basis of sales pitches of national warranties or
warnings that the policyholder may incur out-of-pocket costs? Does direct
marketing of these services ensure that state and local municipalities
are receiving the proper sales taxes that are represented on the actual
invoice amount charged by the service providers?
Breeding Windshield Bullies
You get the point. In actuality, the existing claims reporting process
breeds windshield bullies and, if you were to dissect the numbers, you
would find more windshield bullies in the TPA call centers than in the
I would like to thank Bob Sullivan of MSNBC.com
for introducing the term “windshield bullies” to the auto glass industry.
The Independent Glass Association has reached out to Mr. Sullivan in an
effort to inform him that the term can be applied to others within the
industry applying so-called bullying tactics to sell services. Any TPA
that raises the issue of direct marketing should examine its internal
practices, as these practices are primarily responsible for the direct
marketing taking place in the field. The production of a brochure to warn
the industry about this problem by a company using comparable methods
to secure business is the height of hypocrisy. Isn’t there an old phrase
that applies here? Something about the pot calling the kettle black?
Alan Epley is president of the Independent Glass Association (IGA).
He also serves as president of Southern Glass and Plastic in Columbia,
S.C. Mr. Epley’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those
of this magazine.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.