by Bob Bissler
Senior Editor, BodyShop Business
BEDFORD, TX — The Automotive Service Association’s (ASA’s) Chief Staff Executive Ron Pyle was recently featured in two CBS programs that addressed the issue of insurer-owned body shops. Pyle appeared Feb. 11 on the CBS Evening News during its “Eye on America” segment. On Feb. 12, Pyle provided follow-up coverage on this issue when he was interviewed again by CBS during an appearance on The Early Show.
During the “Eye On America” segment, a CBS reporter covered the story of California’s Caliber Collision Centers, which has been under fire by California’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and the state attorney general for performing work that they deemed “grossly negligent.” Pyle addressed what the program called a “colossal conflict of interest” – that Caliber is owned by a group of insurance companies.
“The folks in that facility actually work for the insurance companies. I think the consumer is not served by that,” Pyle said during the segment.
Carl Parks, senior vice president of The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), was also interviewed for the news program. The interviewer stated that, “The consumer wants really good car repairs and the insurance company wants to save money.”
“No,” countered Parks, “The insurance company wants both. The insurance company wants really good repairs because that is how they keep their customers happy.”
The news story then went on to suggest that both body shops and insurance companies try to “rip off” consumers. PCI reacted to the segment by issuing a strong statement saying the story contained unfair allegations from the autobody industry. “The story contained unsubstantiated allegations that insurers are somehow trying to cut corners on these repairs in an effort to increase profits or underserve consumers. That simply isn’t the case,” PCI stated in a press release.
The National Auto Body Council (NABC) also responded, sending a stern letter to CBS News stating that the segment didn’t live up to its sensationalized billing, when Dan Rather told the viewing audience to stay tuned to see how consumers are possibly being ripped off by collision repair shops.
“It did a disservice to every shop owner whether their facility is owned by an insurer, dealer or independent,” the letter stated. “Our hope would be that a positive story about the real people in this industry could be considered in the near future.”
On The Early Show, Pyle gave advice on finding a technician after a collision and discussed what questions car owners should ask insurers after they’ve been involved in a collision. The show also featured ASA’s recommendations on simple, inexpensive preventive checks car owners can do to maintain their cars. The segments were part of CBS’s “Taking Advantage” series, jointly presented by the CBS Evening News and The Early Show.
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