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March/April 2002

Tech Tips     helpful hints

Ask the Doctor
   by Walt Gorman

Q: I have a serious problem with a glass network. Sometimes a customer I have secured, either through advertising or a referral, will actually be "stolen" when he calls to get a claim number. The customer has dialed his own insurance company's number and when he selects "auto glass claims" on the phone menu, he is connected to this network, which is actually a huge glass company. He then hears something like this: "Welcome to Mammoth Insurance Company's glass claims service administered by ABC." 

As far as he knows, he is speaking with his own insurance company. And even if he did catch ABC'S name, it doesn't mean anything to him anyway.

He is then told that ABC does not find my shop's name on their "approved list" (which I am on) and they cannot guarantee my work or that I will not bill them for more than they reimburse. Then they offer to send an approved repair technician. I bet you will never guess who is sent out. If you took a wild guess and said it is an ABC technician you get a cigar.

When I call ABC to complain, they cannot imagine why the clerk could not find my name on the list. They say she must be inexperienced, etc. 

A: Welcome to the club. Incidentally, the legal term for this act is "steering," but your term, "stealing," is very apt. Along with many, many repair and replacement shops, this has happened to us probably more times than we will ever know. There have even been lawsuits filed to stop these types of business practices. The Massachusetts Glass Dealers Association has introduced a bill in the state legislature addressing this very subject.

You should immediately become a member of the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) because we can accomplish much more fighting steering as a group than as individuals. You can attend our national convention in Orlando, Fla., on April 5, 6 and 7. Steering and other subjects, such as how to secure more insurance work, will be discussed. I find that discussing mutual problems with people who are in the same business, either at a round table session or at an informal gathering, is a great source of practical ideas. As a new member you can attend for half price. 

Q: I am using a low-viscosity resin that works well, but I have had problems with shrinkage during curing almost exclusively on star breaks.

The repair is going smoothly. I remove the repair device (everything still looks good) and apply the ultraviolet light. A few minutes into curing, the resin "shrinks" out of one or two legs of the break. Maybe these legs will look fine, but they could also show obvious traces of the original damage.

A: If you understand how heat affects the repair you should have few problems. Glass expands when heated and the cracks close up, but as it cools they open right up again. If flexing with your probe won't get the resin into the tips, opening and closing the legs with heat, while they are under pressure, may do the job. Do not cure until the glass has cooled or you could be fooled.

Q: How can I repair a windshield where there was an application of Rainex™ or a similar product applied after the break occurred?

A: Six months ago I would have told you that it could not be done. But my right-hand man, Lucien Boulanger, tells me that he has been successful cleaning the breaks with 99-percent alcohol (not rubbing alcohol). I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. 

Walt Gorman is the owner and founder of A-1 Windshield Repair in Seekonk, Mass. He also runs a training school for windshield repair technicians.


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