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Volume 7    Issue 5            September/October 2005

Field of Vision
     from the Editor

Listen LYNX
by Charles Cumpston

We hear a lot about identity theft today, but Americans have a long history of resistance to the divulging of personal information. Identity cards? Forget it. There was suspicion about Social Security cards when they were introduced—the first step in government monitoring of individuals.

Now, in our industry, LYNX Services from PPG has come up with what many are equating to company identity theft with its METRYX registry service.

Even before the service was introduced, there were those who mistrusted the PPG/LYNX/ProStars interlink. And for these people, METRYX is just another link in that tightening chain in which components of one corporate entity collect information about their companies.

Paranoia and conspiracy theories are not unknown in our industry with its large, but shrinking, independent entrepreneurial make up. (Do the shares that insurance companies hold in publicly traded PPG really translate into how long an independent shop has to wait on the phone for approval to do an insurance job?) However, the METRYX service is something completely new and different, and shop owners are right in expressing concern about the detailed information they have to provide and what might happen to it or how it might be used.

At the same time, even most naysayers concede that a registry service to let consumers and/or insurance companies know what qualifications a business has is a good idea.

Allowing companies to differentiate themselves through training, AGRSS accreditation and other ratings would be good for the industry and raise the level of professionalism.

Thoughtful questioning of something new is never out of place. And it behooves LYNX to listen to what the AGRR industry has to say. The feedback from shop owners about their concerns is a vital component in the successful establishment of any industry registry service. But there is concern that a commercial entity is the one collecting the data.

LYNX officials have said that a registry service has to start somewhere and that it is initiating the effort and down the road it will use the information it collects to show insurance companies how having a shop with accredited technicians results in more satisfied customers (if indeed data does show this). But taking the information to set up the registry and translating that into statistical information such as that is a sophisticated operation. 

At this time, LYNX does not have a concrete plan to get from point A (collecting the information) to point B (providing market research data based on the information). I think the industry would be more comfortable if it knew what the ultimate use of providing information was going to lead to (showing that quality is worth paying for) and how this is going to be done.

Companies that have participated in pilot programs to test the registry report that LYNX has been responsive to their suggestions and observations. We hope LYNX will continue to be responsive to suggestions from the industry. 

Charles Cumpston is the editor of AGRR.

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