Annoying Sales Call Assassination

Quote

 

 

 

Mancunian bloke: “Can I speak to the business owner?”

Certainly. What’s your call in connection with?

“My name’s Gary and I’m calling from The Business Consultants. It’s a quick business enquiry about…”

[I interrupt his introduction] I can help you with that; do you have a registration number?

“What for?”

Your car…

“What about my car?”

So it’s not your car?

“What car?”

For someone who said it was a quick business enquiry, you’re dragging your feet a bit. How about a model and year?

“You what, mate?”

The car. What model is it?

“Whose car?”

Do you even know, yourself?

“Know what?”

Whose car it is?

“Why are you asking me about a car?”

…because you’ve called a windscreen replacement business and I cannot help *you* unless you help *me* identify the vehicle.

[he hung up] Job done. Killed him.

Leaking Windscreens are NOT Covered.

 

 

 

A trade customer – an independent garage – had a car in for service. They were also asked to look at a water leak in the front of the vehicle which turned out to be a poorly fitted windscreen. Water was dripping into the cabin from above the rear view mirror. The garage called me in to remove and refit the windscreen.

After a quick pre-inspection, there was also another problem: the windscreen itself was delaminating and was showing severe separation (of the sandwich construction). The glass was also extremely brittle (light pressure on the outer layer was displacing water from within the glass and PVB layers). Whilst the successful removal and refitting of the windscreen was still viable to eliminate the leaking issue, the glass itself was not fit for purpose, and thus unsuitable for reuse. A recommendation that glass should be replaced was relayed back to the vehicle owner.

The car owner contacted his insurer and explained that his car had a leaking windscreen. He claimed that they (the underwriters) were sympathetic and said they would ‘honor’ him with a new windscreen in the circumstances. Unless he has something exclusively written into his policy which covers him for the poor workmanship of a previous windscreen installer (before or during his ownership) leaky windscreens are not construed as damage, and therefore, not covered.

The following day the garage called to let me know that the windscreen was about to be replaced by the car owner’s insurer (or their nominated repairer).

My guess is that the call (from the car owner) to the insurance company would have been diverted to the nominated repairer. If the owner did state that the windscreen is leaking, is the repairer acting fraudulently? Was the onus more on the owner not to initiate contact with his insurer for an issue for which he was not entitled to be indemnified? Or was the insurer negligent?
On paper, the car owner got a new windscreen (worth well over £700) and the repairer delivered according to their service level agreement. However, the windscreen was not damaged. It was leaking. Leaking windscreens are not classed as damage, and therefore not covered by insurance.

Who’s to blame in this instance?

(Insurer’s name, the car owner’s name and the VRN have not been revealed to avoid litigation).

Windscreen Claims: Know Who You’re Dealing With

 

 

 

 

When a windscreen repair or replacement company says they can direct bill insurance companies, or that they’re ‘insurance approved’, there’s something else you should know.

Insurance companies do not like dealing with multiple suppliers. It’s far easier to deal with one two or three nationwide repairers which in turn makes dealing with any claims a much more manageable task for them. Typically, those repairers will be Autoglass, Auto Windscreens and National Windscreens. None of these companies use subcontractors or a supplier network. They operate in their own individual ways using their own employed staff. The exception to this used to be AA Autowindshields (now acquired by and operated by the same parent company as Auto Windscreens) who, in an attempt to cover areas in which they did not have a presence, would appoint a local company as a sub contractor to act on their behalf. Contracts are designed on service delivery, coverage and price.

Autoglass parent company Belron also operates (among its other businesses) Glasscare which acts as a price mechanism designed to profit from those who use it, and also to act as a (price) comparator in the interests of their sister windscreen fitting concern. The Supplier Invoice Control Program ( “SICP” ) allows smaller companies (those who do not have direct billing arrangements with the insurers for whom Glasscare are acting as agents) to invoice insurance companies for windscreen (and glass) repair and replacement jobs. The SICP system is a price regulator, and will also take steps to ensure that the claim is genuine. Each user of the system is required to input details specific to each claim – or job – before a prescribed rate is given. The rates are often questionable, but remain subjective to purchase price (of parts) and each individual business in terms of their size and operation. As its name suggests, the control program is tailored around the arrangement Autoglass has with each respective insurer. It does not entitle anyone using the system (other than the nominated supplier, Autoglass) direct access to any of those insurers. By this, the claim of having to ‘direct bill’ insurance companies is not true. Another false claim is for anyone – other than the prevailing preferred repairer – to claim they are insurance approved. Whilst Glasscare will occasionally and periodically audit its users, no checks are carried out on the work itself.

National Windscreens also operates a similar system. Whilst the brand is essentially nationwide, the company is made up of smaller independent companies who operate under the National Windscreens banner. Another similar network of suppliers quite new to the industry is Nationwide Windscreen Services. This is a group independent companies covering designated and predetermined areas of the country. Whilst National Windscreens or Nationwide may be better qualified to an insurance approved claim, it still does little more than delegate tasks to sub contractors who remain as third parties throughout.

There are no exceptions to the direct billing and insurance approved claims. There are however, some companies who do have a direct billing, or nominated supplier arrangement with some insurance companies, such as Silver Shield Windscreens and Catlin Insurance and Nationwide Motorglass and Hastings Insurance.

Buyer Beware: Glass Cover

 

 

Are you having difficulty getting your insurance company’s preferred repairer to fit a genuine ‘OE’ replacement windscreen for your car? Is the windscreen company waiting to see if the underwriter will authorise your request?

 

First and foremost, before you go reaching for the latest version of the Consumer Rights Act legislation as you prepare to refer the matter to the ‘Insurance Ombudsman’, you should have a look at what you agreed to before policy inception; it usually states very clearly what the outcome will be be in the event of a windscreen claim.

Should you be paying a supplement for a genuine windscreen?

In a nutshell, no. You should not be making up the difference if your preference is for an ‘authentic’ part, not unless there is an explicit exclusion stated within your Policy Schedule, or Key Facts. Unless you have agreed to pay the difference for OE parts when the insurance terms were proposed, the insurer nor the repairer cannot charge you – the policyholder – the difference between an aftermarket, or ‘copy’, windscreen and one supplied by the vehicle manufacturer.

The onus is on you to ask these questions before you accept the proposed arrangement when shopping around for your motor insurance.

The Cost of Someone Else Paying Your Excess

 

 

 

Insurance companies implemented a policy excess system in order to deter gratuitous claims. However now there is a culture which could be using this deterrent to encourage the very thing it was designed to curb.

How somebody else paying your excess could be costing you.

In insurance, the policyholder contribution, or the ‘excess’, is the amount you have to pay if you make a claim. Without an excess, claims would increase dramatically and, ultimately, the cost of insurance would rise. It is a studious measure to deter people from making frivolous or unnecessary claims for minimal damage which would, invariably, inflate the cost of insurance. It is also helps to prevent fraudulent claims. This article focuses on that small, yet significant aspect of car windscreen (and glass) claims: the excess.

Who pays?

Windscreen Excess Amount

Cash Notes

In a nutshell, a windscreen repairer offering to pay your excess is vying for your business. By offering to cover a policyholder’s contribution, they are trying to attract custom, plain and simple. However, given that the average excess amount is circa £75.00, the amount would seem too great to write off; it would need a claw-back somewhere, surely. Where does the buck stop? If the billing is carte blanch, the repairer might simply add the ‘waived’ amount to the final invoice before billing the insurer. There may even be some creative billing whereby fictitious constituent clips, peripheral parts or out of hours charges will be added to cover the shortfall created by offering the insured party a freebie. Some busier (or even desperate) repair companies may even absorb the impact based on either the volume of work this kind of marketing might be generating, or that it is seen as something doing (and better than standing around scratching their proverbials). Whichever way you want to look at it, or any business attempts to justify it, knocking off around 50-quid distorts the market and ultimately alters the true value of repairing or replacing a windscreen. Per contra, windscreen repair and replacement companies are not the only culprits of this perfidious practice.

Secondhand car sellers.

Selling a car with a damaged windscreen or poorly repaired stonechip could prove to be a deal breaker. It may also take a huge chunk out of the seller’s profit margin as the cost is usually not covered by their car trader policy. Some sellers for example will offer a £50.00 discount suggesting that the buyer could claim for a new windscreen on their insurance after buying and subsequently insuring the vehicle. Others might even promise to pay the excess when – or if – the windscreen is (eventually) replaced. Of course, morality aside, to initiate an insurance claim for damage which occurred before policy inception is tantamount to fraud. The system however, is open to this kind of abuse and much of this type of activity goes on undetected.

Overall, the motor insurance industry is extremely competitive; motor insurance providers are relying more and more on high volume sales which in turn enables them to offer cheaper rates to the consumer. Conversely, every change in an individual’s circumstances will have a bearing on the cost of their insurance; age, car type; postcode, usage, where the car is kept; previous claims; driving convictions and more. These are all significant factors in calculating the cost of insuring motorists. An increase in the number of claims made will also be collated to profile different motorists, and calculate the risk of insuring them based on that data.

Is your claim necessary? If it is, ask yourself what the overall implications would be if someone was distorting the claim amount for their own gain. It would be incredibly short sighted to satisfy your thinking if the answer was for fiscal reasons. If you are saving the excess payment; the repairer is gaining the claim amount, and the insurer ultimately is indemnifying the loss, there can be no complaints when there is a premium hike when the policy lapses. Now rethink the previous statement in reverse. Is the insurer subsidising a transaction?

Ask yourself, would you still be making the claim if you were paying the excess yourself? Better still, ask the repairer why they would ‘lose’ or waive a significant part of the final bill in replacing a broken windscreen. If you’re not paying, who does?

 

Look Without Watching

 

Why watching your windscreen fitter may not be a good idea.

 

The moment you have been fearing has arrived. You’re about to have your windscreen replaced, and the thought of a stranger getting intimate with your car is making you feel uncomfortable. What do you do?

An immediate and infinite resource is the internet, and you can always tap into the experience of somebody else who has survived such an event; forewarned is forearmed. However, one commonly offered fragment of windscreen wisdom might just preempt the very thing you fear the most.

Windscreen Replacement in Progress

Windscreen Replacement in Progress

Popular advice to, “watch the fitter like a hawk” is understandable given the horror stories being recited by those who have had the misfortune of witnessing them. But what if your own actions are to blame? What if your own fear becomes the cause of the fitter fluffing it? Nothing says, ‘you cannot be trusted to do a good job without me watching you’ more than becoming the technician’s shadow during the process. This is not to say that you should not be around, or that you’re not welcome, but discussing your concerns could mean that you may not, after all, have to perch yourself upon the poor chap’s shoulder, ready to Kango through his skull, to peck out his brain the moment he slips up.

Hiding in Garage

Resist hiding in your garage

Relax. If you’ve been diligent in your research you might even have the right person turning up to do the job. In which case, greet him, exchange a few pleasantries and simply get on with your day (offer him a cup of tea as you would do with anyone when welcoming them to your abode). Breaking your new-windscreen-replacement virginity however may require a bit more courting before the fitter starts stripping down (the car, that is).  Do make yourself available, perhaps telling him where you’ll be should he need you for anything.This may also be a useful time to utilise, perhaps in the garage, garden or greenhouse for example.

Windscreen Replacement in Progress

The Stealth Watchman

Is it alright to watch the fitter from start to finish?

Ask him (or her) if they would mind you being nosey. Be honest about it (but without being obvious). Many tradesmen cannot perform if they’re being watched. It makes them nervous, or that they become too aware of the company which throws them off their routine. Replacing a windscreen is a methodology which requires concentration and alertness. An experienced windscreen technician – or automotive glazier – will follow a step-by-step procedure they have in their head, and this (usually) ensures everything gets done, and in the right order. In the circumstances it is probably best to leave him to his own devices; you’re just going to have to trust him, but do try and tap into your own instincts. Does he inspire confidence? Is he well presented? Is his van clean and tidy? How happy (or sad) is his demeanor? Remember, he’s not only working on your car; he’s also your guest and so you should make him feel as welcome as one. If the impression you get is not good, it might just be your cue to become a curtain twitcher.

Windscreen Voyeurism?

Peekaboo! Windscreen Voyeurism?

By all means look, but try not to watch. You could end up maneuvering your gaze into a voyeuristic trespass.

 

 

To See, or Not to See

 

 

Now You See It…

An illustration of Before and After stages of a typical windscreen repair. 

Have you recently had your windscreen repaired? Were you pleased with the results? Was there a discernible between the before and after appearances of the damage? Would you know a good repair if you saw one? A lot of repairers don’t, never mind how to achieve one.

Windscreen Repair c

Windscreen Repair

A recent thread on Pistonheads  highlighted a common, and proliferating issue in windscreen stonechip repair. There appears to be a perceived acceptance in what a repaired chip looks like, and judging by a lot of evidence, not many people actually know what an aesthetically, structurally and technically sound repair should look like.

Generally speaking, if there is no difference between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ states, it’s not a good repair. In fact, it is likely that the damage – technically speaking – has not been repaired. “It’s been sealed” was the closing line the TVR Wedge owner got on the Pistonheads thread after he questioned the repairer when he claimed to have finished the job. Looking at the end product of the attempted repair, it could be argued that the repairer had little or no grasp of what he (or she) was doing. Irrespective of what the repairer’s assessment of his or her work is, a botch should not be accepted, nor paid for. And as far as assessments go, the repairer – an experienced repairer – can usually anticipate what the likely outcome will be before attempting a repair. In the case of the TVR owner, the windscreen is now potentially ruined, and the car may even fail its next MOT.

What does a ‘good’ repair look like?

The answer is quite simple. If, by looking at the windscreen, you can easily see the damage you shouldn’t be able to see it without looking for it once it has been repaired. This, however, is subjective to a few important factors:

  1. size;
  2. position on the windscreen;
  3. type of damage;
  4. the age of the chip (or how long it has been exposed to water and contaminants).

Ambient temperature, lighting, equipment, quality of consumable products and the experience of the technician are vitally important aspects which the repairer relies on in order to give prominence to his or her skill. The following image shows a common stone chip on a windscreen.

Chipped Windscreen

Damaged Windscreen

The chip is showing an impact crater (in the middle of the arc shape) and two smaller chips above it. There is one visible crack emanating from the centre of the impact point and threatening to travel southwest; the arc shape is often referred to as a ‘half moon’ although it almost has bears a resemblance to a ‘beeswing’. Underneath the arc shape are two more cracks: one feint crack perpendicular to the southwest pointing crack, and one dissecting the two smaller upper impacts. Placing a mirror behind the break adds clarity:

Mirror Behind Stonechip

Mirror Behind Stonechip

Using a mirror allows the technician to see how the break is responding as various repair techniques are utilised. These are carefully honed skills which enable the break to be manipulated in order to allow the repair resin to penetrate fully into each crack.

Windscreen After Repair

Windscreen After Repair

With the repair complete, and the apparatus removed, the above image shows what the (now repaired) damage looks like with a mirror reflecting light back through the glass. In technical terms (or optics) the light propagating through a medium (in this example, glass) has a refractive index or index of refraction: a dimensionless number which determines how much light is bent, or refracted, when entering a material. With the mirror removed light no longer reflects back through the glass:

Repaired Stone Chip with Mirror Removed

Repaired Stone Chip with Mirror Removed

As good as a repair can look when finished, there is no miraculous vanishing trick. There will always be at least some trace of the damage. This is usually the outline of the impact crater and some visible evidence of the bonded cracks:

A Shadow of its Former Self

A Shadow of its Former Self

It should be noted that whilst there is a mirror present, there is no smoke to trick you into looking elsewhere. Given the nature and definition of glass (it’s transparent!) resolution and focus will always be difficult to replicate from shot to shot when capturing images. A camera will passively focus on an area detected by the autofocus – or AF – sensor(s). The camera in all images was on a standard iPhone 6 device, and by placing it on a predetermined, X, Y and Z axis. The AF was allowed to detect what was in front of it, and the same three manual overrides were used before each image was taken. In no way was it an accurate science. These images were capture in a very basic exercise in order to illustrate the before and after of a windscreen stone chip repair.

As with all posts, comments and feedback welcomed, and gratefully received.