Volume 12, Issue 2 - March/April 2008

IWFA Update
Knock It Off

Before writing this column, I conducted an informal survey (conveniently comprised of friends, family and direct reports). Much to my surprise, I found that I am widely regarded as a positive and optimistic person. So that makes the theme of this column all the more unusual. You see, throughout the two-plus years that I’ve been contributing to Window Film, I consistently have written about companies, products and organizations that have advanced our industry. Yet, for a sector to truly thrive, it’s not sufficient to only encourage innovation. It’s just as important to discourage destructive practices.

Fortunately for all of us, the overwhelming majority of window film businesses conduct themselves ethically. They provide quality products, trustworthy services and reliable support. In fact, it is our collective reputation for dependability that has helped the industry grow so rapidly in recent years. But, as with many industries, a handful of questionable practices threaten to derail the progress we are working so hard to make.

What are these unsavory techniques? Falsifying performance claims, failing to honor warranty agreements and installing illegal tint are three of the most common (and damaging). Let’s take a closer look at each.

Falsifying performance claims
While it is never advisable to overstate the performance of any product, doing so for a safety film should be especially unthinkable. When properly installed, these materials are designed and tested to perform at a certain level against specific loads. Responsible window film manufacturers clearly report the failure points for their blast-mitigating films, so be sure to honor your clients’ trust by recommending products based on manufacturer-published and third-party validated data. Misrepresenting this information can jeopardize much more than a client relationship; it can put human lives at risk. 

Failing to honor warranties
This “no-no” takes many forms, ranging from failing to inform clients of each warranty’s limitations properly, or, trying to place a claim with one manufacturer for another manufacturer’s product, to applying a film that is certain to damage the glass, or avoiding a client who is seeking a claim. Regardless of how a company tries to dodge responsibility for a service error, the end result is the same: dissatisfied customers.

The true cost of creating unhappy customers is much, much greater than the cost of replacing the film on any size job. When a consumer experiences an injustice, that person commonly tells friends, family members and co-workers about the slight. And that negative buzz affects not only the company who has violated that person’s trust, but also every other company in the industry. It brings all of us down.

Installing illegal tint
There is an adage in public relations that states, “Any press is good press.” Trust me, it’s not true. You do not want to appear in the back pages of Window Film, where instances of unlawful tint are sometimes reported. And, frankly, ignorance is no excuse. The IWFA’s website publishes tint rules for each state. Not all dealers realize that penalties for illegal tint are not limited to drivers. Shop owners, too, can be fined if vehicle glass is made darker than the law allows. Some cities have even conducted sting operations to uncover violators.

But for a shop that engages in this illegal activity, negative exposure and costly citations are just two of the risks they face. Insurance companies and litigation also could be factors if an accident is caused by illegal tint. Once again, the majority of window film companies are committed not only to their own success, but also the success of the entire industry. And this commitment is reflected in the ethical way they conduct business. But there remain a few whose practices threaten to corrode our collective credibility. So, if you are engaged in any of the above activities, do us all a favor … knock it off! 

Tom Niziolek is president of the International Window Film Association (IWFA). Mr. Niziolek’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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