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Something I am Doing

Right about now is more than just a regular ol' "New Year" for those of us trying to run a glass shop.

After reading the Farmers fax I got from SGC, looking at a fax I've gotten from SGC for another company trying who's to get me to redirect my billing for SGC to handle (I bill directly), talking to my vendors and verifying my costs ARE NOT going down, and hearing mention of a new legislative session, I sat down at my keyboard.

I have a letter nearly finished. I am keeping it TO THE POINT, so as to hopefully hold attention of the reader. When I feel it's polished and poigniant, I will send it to the elected officials who REPRESENT ME. I will make sure they are MADE AWARE that current law is hurting THEIR CONSTITUENTS. I will offer to answer any questions they have, provide documentation if they'd like, and offer to help put them in touch with my competitors whom they also represent.

I know, it may not accomplish anything. But, I CAN'T AFFORD to just ASSUME they know about the problems. If the lawmakers who serve me don't KNOW about the problem, they will have no reason or motivation to try to fix it.

My New Year's resolution: draw the attention of state lawmakers to issues that affect ME.

And that's a resolution I can live with.

Re: Something I am Doing

Jess, I think you may be on to something. Maybe it may fall on deaf ears but we won't know until we try. There is power in numbers. When you get this about ready let me know, or e-mail it to me. I can re tweek it(if need be)or to personalitize it and I will also follow suit. Possibly MIAGA or IGA may have something similar or may be able to help us with this if needed. Maybe more as to where to go with it.(although you may already have the right places for it to go)! I'm with ya all the way girl! I'll help where ever I can. let me know....THANK YOU!

Re: Something I am Doing

It would help if you post it. Then we can add anything constructive to it. Then we can all send letters to anybody that might make a difference. Maybe an address and email thread to help too.

Re: Something I am Doing

I have sat down with a state rep.,the aasist.ins.commish.All i seem to get is we'll look into it.It will take a few months they say.How come no-one else is complaining about it?You need people,lots of people in your state to start speaking up.Until that happens nothing will get accomplished.But that is our biggest problem."UNITY".We need to get along with each other before we will see any change in our (my) lfetime.

My letter

After much time at the keyboard and ultimately a change in approach, I have a letter.

Input/feedback would be welcomed, as I don't think I've ever had a harder time trying to provide information w/out making it totally confusing to industry outsiders.

Here it goes:

Dear (Rep. or Sen.)

Imagine going to your local florist and ordering a mixed bouquet of flowers. Now, imagine how the florist will feel when you inform him or her that you will only be paying $5.49, because that's what you'd pay at the convenience store down the road.

Go to Sears or Penny's and take a pair of khaki jeans up to the cashier. Insist on paying $10.77 because that's how much they are at Wal-Mart this week. Brand doesn't matter; khaki jeans are khaki jeans.

How about going to your doctor for a physical. When he's finished, tell him that you'll only be paying him $35.48 this time, because you've talked to a few other "doctors" in the area, and while this isn't the lowest price out there, you feel this is fair.

All of these scenarios sound ludicrous, I know. Not a single one of those situations sounds fair, or reasonable, or likely to happen in the real world. Unfortunately, this is an adequate representation of what happens to your constituents trying to run auto glass businesses, for people like me.

Shops across this state continue to watch our numbers decline, knowing our overhead, our experience and qualifications, and the quality of the materials we use is given zero consideration, all while being legal under current law.

For shops such as mine to continue to offer safe installations, using quality materials, and in some cases, to stay in business, current state law is in desperate need of clarification and restructuring.

To help drive home my point, I am including copies of two faxes I have recently received.

The first fax was sent to me by SGC Network on behalf of Farmers Insurance. It indicates that, effective January 1, the non-negotiable rate paid for Farmers claims will be at 0% +/- NAGS (National Auto Glass Specifications) list.

The second fax indicates a rate significantly OVER the NAGS list price. While this fax is on behalf of American Family Insurance, let me point out that it was also sent by SGC Network, who administers claims for numerous insurance companies.

SGC, who is only one of many third party providers operating in this manner, administers claims in a very wide price range. If I were to submit an invoice to SGC for a Farmers insured, pricing at only 14% over NAGS list, I would be short paid, as their "non-negotiable rate" for Farmers claims is at 0% +/- NAGS list.

If I billed exactly the same on an American Family claim, SGC would gladly pay my invoice in full, as would they pay at the higher rate without any issue.

At no time will I ever be asked about the quality/brand of glass or adhesives used, or anything of the installer's credentials.

To me, and numerous others in this business, this practice seems ludicrous, but is legal under current law. Current law uses the phrase "fair and reasonable," but does not have language to establish parameters for "fair and reasonable." There are no provisions or guidelines for establishing acceptable methodologies, nor wording for evidencing/proving the established rates, and the recourse shops like mine have is limited.

I am forced to fight for fair profits by trying to manipulate the law myself. I have attempted to argue that to be fair, the prices these companies establish must consider my costs and entitlement to a fair markup. The responses I have gotten have been "prove it," or "We believe we have made adequate allowances to cover your costs and allow you a profit." Yet, none of these places has any idea of what my overhead costs are, and let me assure you, costs have not been going down! My only recourse is arbitration, for which I will incur significant, up front expenses to try to recoup shortages.

Not long ago, this state had a law on the books that was clear and concise for both sides of the auto glass billing. Changes in the law eliminated the core elements that had given it its clarity.

I am asking you to help re-establish "fair and reasonable" law within our state. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have, provide you with documentation, and put you in touch with others in the auto glass field.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Well....there it is. After struggling with this half the day, I was tempted to just call, but all of us know how many elements factor in to the mess we're dealing with. It's hard to explain without making it totally confusing. However, I do want my point to get across, so any feedback/constructive critisism is welcomed.

Re: Something I am Doing

Excellent points made and the annalogies are very good. All I can say is, "Good Luck".

Re: My letter

Great opening and an excellent draft overall. You are correct in your initial approach and need others in your State to plead likewise. The formulation of "State Associations" is the best approach and logical starting point for a long term solution to this obvious interference of free market pricing.

Everyone should also re-consider the idea proposed long ago by the IGA with regard to a web-based billing system. Capturing submitted invoices from legitimate glass shops (and the rejections) and presenting them as evidence of free market pricing is the surest way to expose the interference of NAGS and the Networks. IMO, presenting this type of "smoking gun" is the only way that any elected official or jury could comprehend the seriousness of the restraint of trade that so prevalently exists.

Re: My letter

Jess, you wrote a great letter! Maybe the only thing I would add is to mention insurance billing near the opening.

I suggest you try getting other shop owners and employees to sign and send it in as well.

Re: Something I am Doing

I would almost add in information on all the NAGS prices changes. Show them what it was in 1990 and then what it was in 2005 and the latest one for 2006. Give some price examples of what it use to be priced for a popular vehicle and what the price is today. Get your states cost of living report as that will show the percentages over the years.

Re: Something I am Doing

you have nice letter writting skills, i have always wondered, with the steering going on how important is price? If your customer gets steered you don't even get to the price issue, so i wonder if steering could be stopped, then pricing comes in?

our volumn is down, but i attribute it more to steering than to price, that is what makes me think stopping the steering is the first priority.

our state have a anti-steering law, (I think?), but i don't ever recall it being enforced? It makes a person wonder what good is a law they don't enforce. I am still trying to think of a situation where government actually improved anything?

Re: Something I am Doing

Nice letter, Jess.

May I suggest changing "NAGS list" to "NAGS benchmark"?

NAGS does not sell glass and therefore cannot set a list price. They are a third party and can only define a benchmark based on their unknown methods.

I think if you say you want to charge more than "list", that some people think you are overcharging! But, as we all know, NAGS + 0% is a low price.

Re: Something I am Doing

I have NAGS software it says LIST not benchmark. Nags wants to call it a benchmark when it suits them, then the ins ind and nags calls it a list price when it suits them. That's having thier cake and eating it too! Great letter Jess. now how do we sign it like a petition, or would it be better to send lots of them in separately?

Re: Something I am Doing

send it as an email, each shop can add thier name to the list then send it on??

Re: Something I am Doing

Im in!Let me know what I can do.I know it sounds crazy,But If we get enough shops to answer to this we might have a fighting chance.What do we have to loose?We already have all lost to much!!!

Re: Something I am Doing

Anyone & everyone is free to use any portion of that letter. I have already sent mine via snail mail, as one of the individuals who represents me doesn't have an e-mail address I could do the attachments to.

For all Minnesota shops:
the following web address will get you to the state legislative site

Toward the very bottom of that page, there is a spot with hyperlinks to the officials. It says "Please direct all comments concerning issues or legislation to your HOUSE MEMEBER or SENATOR."

For anyone who is hesitant to "bother" these busy officials, just remember: They are elected to represent us, and can't do that if they are not aware of our issues.

I'll post if/when I get response/s.

Re: Something I am Doing

Way to go Jess! I have made copies of your letter and will begin handing it out to the shops. Thanks.

Re: Something I am Doing


Yesterday, in my beloved fax machine were two faxes, one from Nationwide (sgc) the other from Allied (sgc).
Glass shops can no longer call in the claim blah blah blah. Both say the exact same thing. If you haven't gotten these pleade let me know as they may be helpful in your fight. I am currently taking a Wisconsin insurer to small claims, they lawyered up I have not yet.

Re: Something I am Doing


Re: Something I am Doing

Jess good idea all the way , we were able to aquire an online form to mail letters to the legislators senate, house, and governor , of Virginia, I will begin urging other businesses in my 100 miles to do the same thing . I love autoglass replacement, its time the trade is treated like it should be and state and local government's need to help us to secure our future based on a "fair and reasonable" a phrase the glass industry needs to decide the meaning of not our competitor.

Re: Something I am Doing

I believe I know how to move the glass business to be profitable as it once was. First the problem will not go away. Insurance companies and banks are the two most regulated businesses in the US. Second- We as glass shops are the solution. I have ideas which I've not tested but am in the process of doing so. A. I will in the near future have a web site which I will direct my insurance customers to. It will explain in simple details how the "aftermarket business is a scam" tho not using the "S" (SCAM) word. B. It will explain how I do business, I give the customer the normal written guarantee for as long as they own their vehicle and in return I bill them direclty, they pay me by cash, check or credit card. The invoice I give them comes with the instructions and an envelope stamped, including the address for where to send the bill to their insurance company. They will get reimbursed by their insurance company. When the majority of the glass shops in the US do this Safelite and LYNX will be gone quickly...
any ideas.

Re: Something I am Doing

Still have to give the insured time to get the check to cover the one they gave uoy.

Re: Something I am Doing

Great letter and I am in. however, how many people does it take, I know there are many glass companies that have already approched the ins. comm. office. I have been there, and they told me I am not alone, so why does this continue and nothing gets done? also why should the customer have to be on line. It makes them upset and mad sometimes at the agent. I always tell them to please call the Ins. co. and voice there thoughts. There are some Ins. co. that dont require the customer to be on line and they pay a fair price and its easy. That is just a few but why should we have the customer on line.

Re: Something I am Doing

very sad; when independent shops recognize the planned ambush by tpa's and sgc and ppg and nags, they will finally awaken and act to save whats left of our business's. My humble sugestion, in lieu of legislation, is to email or fax each glass shop with a sample letter containing suggested "prices", so that each of us can submit to our valued customers a fair price for our products and labor. This is a reverse O&A. if we can get 70% ompliance, it will damage tpa's immensely...

Re: Something I am Doing

I just read your letter & it sounds good from our perspective but, the rep you are writing to has NO idea as to how this process works you might consider explaining more in-depth about the industry. Perhaps we could make the insurance companys give the same pricing structure for the entire U.S.A.

I could only wish for the full list price, we in CT are being hammered as low as 46% OFF LIST(this request is from Progressive) so count your blessings!

Re: Something I am Doing

It's good the see all the posts on this!

As far as "how many does it take?" well, that's hard to say. I had a previous Rep. that took every issue I ever brought to her attention seriously. My current Rep. is rather new at the job, but comes from another small town just miles away from me. Reviewing his record so far, he seems to take issues that affect "the locals" very seriously, so I am hopeful he will want to hear more.

My state Sen. is the same person it's been for eons. Even knowing that he is not necessarily someone I can depend on, he surely won't do ANYTHING if he isn't made aware of the issues.

Here is one thing I can guarentee: Your representatives will not act on an issue they are not aware of.

It only takes ONE person to bring the subject to their attention; everyone else after that helps support the matter.

On top of contacting the gentlemen who represent me, there are other things I do consistently, in fighting for what I feel is best for my shop.

For one, I will not/do not bill to or through TPA's. With each invoice I send, I include a letter REFUSING to allow TPA's to be involved in the transaction. I have checked and, in my state, I do HAVE THE RIGHT to do this.

Two: I fight for my short pays. I don't care if it's $5.00. Once I let them short me that 5 bucks, I have basically made it "fair" for them to short it and they will continue to short it. Next time, it may be another $5 or $10; each time they are allowed to get away with shorting, it helps THEM, not me.

Thirdly, I bill EVERY insurance company at the same rates. (These are rates I ESTABLISHED as being suitable for my business.) How is one company really going to successfully argue that my prices aren't "fair" and/or "reasonable" if several other companies are paying it?

Yet another thing I have done and remain willing to do, is communicate with my competitors. Sure, we may compete for some of the same jobs, but can be allies in fighting for our rights. (Just as an FYI, there may be laws/rules governing what you can discuss with competitors. I believe it safest/best to avoid discussion on pricing specifics.)

There are many things each of us can do on our own to put up a good fight. What may be good for one shop, maybe isn't so good for the next, but I think we all know that doing "nothing" isn't going to help anyone. Sometimes, hard as it can feel, you just have to swallow that lump in the back of your throat and go at it.

Best of luck to each of you in your battles.

Re: Something I am Doing

Jess;your letter worked.We e-mailed all our senators and state reps.It took just three days to receive a few replys.One was from the original group that made our first bill possible.My wife has been asked to go to a senate hearing and speak for all shops.We've had problems in the past, getting past the initial first meeting with anyone.Any help out there for her sure would be helpfull.
Thanks for the head start.

Re: Something I am Doing

please please, do not make the mistake i have seen in our legislature, when people get up to speak, they start to ramble.

please, script what you are going to say. at the last steering bill we attended, people started to speak about the pricing issue, all it did was cloud the issue.

if we had been better prepared we should have focused like a laser beam on the steering and only the steering. this is to big of issue to try and cover all the bases at once.

the legislators do not deal with things every day as we do, then the insurance companies got up to speak, and made us look like we were the liars, and with the dollars they donate, the legislators give their opinion more wieght.

Re: Something I am Doing

sorry about that, i put your name in the name box, i was thinking of the name i was replying to.

i would almost outline the topics you should touch on, and i would try and bring supporting documents in a package with a copy of your speech attached. that way if they can actually look at the things you have stated after the fact.

be prepared, i would almost bet, the first word from the other side's mouth would be, it will raise pricing for the insured, and we always want them to pay less. that was the excuse the other side used in our hearing.

the legislators will be interested in the effect upon the consumer, there are more consumers that vote than insurance companies, and glass shops. if you can show the consumer getting the short end of the stick and document it, it might be better recieved.

in our state they have passed a couple laws, although not recently, problem is they don't enforce anything, at least not to my knowledge.

Re: Re: Something I am Doing


Glad to hear your news! As far as your meeting, even if you're not a member of the IGA, maybe consider getting in touch with them to help you devise your game plan. If you have a state chapter, I would think they'd be more than happy to lend a hand too.

Others have given good advice too. Be prepared and stay focused. If you're not going to "give a speech" in the meeting, prepare an outline of what you feel you must discuss, and stick to it. Supporting documents are a GREAT idea. Determine what you're going to focus on, and take what you can to support it (i.e. NAGS price lists from "benchmark" times, some of your invoices, the faxes you get from SGC, or the notices sometimes sent with shortpays, written statements from customers, etc). Maybe consider getting statements from competitors from your area to take with.

I wish you great success in this endeavor!

So far, I have not had the favor of a response, but I'm sure I will hear something sooner or later. I will post any developments.

Re: Something I am Doing

Just wondering what state you are in. I am in Wisconsin and looking to start the fight here. Please drop me an email.


Re: Something I am Doing

george,I am in wisconsin also,anybody else in wisconsin willing to go for this?I hope so.

Re: Something I am Doing

I ran across from a previous post and thought it should be brought up again. Remember Murphy's Law about all things left undone progressively go from bad to worse? Don't accept the status quo, if your not good at letters call your elected people (mine all keep logs on phone calls on current trends). The main thing is not to accept things as they are.

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