Volume 9, Issue 6 - November/December 2007

Independentís Day
an iga viewpoint

Steering Clear
by Dave Zoldowski

Most AGRR readers understand steering. I do not need to explain steeringís history or definition to you. But average automobile owners know nothing about steering, nor do they realize their rights in choosing an auto glass service provider. In many cases, they simply defer to their insurance companies for direction in such matters. 

This ignorance has allowed competitive-administrators (CAs) to develop exclusive contracts with insurance companies to handle their class claims. Technology allows these CAs to handle all aspects of a glass claim including assisting the insured with choosing a replacement shop. In many cases, the insured does not know that a CA is processing his claim instead of his insurance company. 

For most of its existence the Independent Glass Association (IGA) has directed a good deal of its time, energy and money towards anti-steering measures. For many of the associationís growing membership (up 30 percent in 2007) steering is their number-one concern. Our efforts have often been successful. Every year, a few more states pass legislation to help educate and protect the auto glass consumer. And, every year the scripts used by customer service representatives (CSRs) when handling auto glass claims are altered as a direct result of public pressure created by groups such as the IGA. 

Now for the first time in the associationís history, we have expanded our efforts to alert consumers to these issues and tactics.

Take Off
At our first ever Fall Conference this November in Las Vegas, IGA launched its anti-steering consumer education campaign, Donít Get Steered. You can also see excerpts online at www.iga.org

The purpose of the campaign is to educate the auto glass consumer that a competitor to the IGA member shop of choice may actually be processing the insuredís glass claim and that this processing is also a way for that competition to take an auto glass sale away from IGAís members. 

The IGA, with the assistance of its membership and industry experts, has produced literature and marketing tools that will be used nationwide to inform the current automobile-owning public that they have a right to choose the auto glass shop of their choice. All items are available to IGA members for their exclusive use. Such tools consist of educational pamphlets, give-aways, t-shirts and sample advertisements. The heart of the campaign is the newly created Donít Get Steered comic book. 

At our 2007 trade show and convention this past spring in Las Vegas our guest speaker, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, suggested that independents simplify the steering issue in a consumer education campaign by creating a comic book. Nader explained that steering is a hard concept for anyoneóconsumers, lawmakers, judges, and othersóto understand. He suggested something simple, like a comic book, to explain it. The IGA took his advice to heart and commissioned a fully illustrated comic book explaining steering. 

A New Frontier
Donít Get Steered represents another way IGA is combating steering on behalf of independents. Through the Donít Get Steered program, we are combating steering in the free and open market. Even though steering is by its very nature, an attempt to control the free market, we feel that consumers once educated will understand that companies that try to dupe customers away from competitors do so because their product could not survive an honest comparison. 

For a copy of Donít Get Steered contact your local IGA member or become one yourself. 

Dave Zoldowski is president of Auto One in Brighton, Mich., and serves as president of the IGA. Mr. Zoldowskiís opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine. 

© Copyright 2007 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.