The Progressive Disease Spreads, Becoming a Plague

October 17, 2007 by
Filed under: Collision Repair Industry 

Know of any decent insurance companies looking for a good appraiser? No, not for me. I wouldn’t torture myself like that. Right now I can think of at least ten appraisers who are fed up with their current job and are looking for another insurance company to work for. In case you haven’t’ noticed, there is some major turmoil in the insurance appraiser industry. Staff appraisers and independents alike are jumping ship or complaining about their jobs. Complaints are nothing new. Many appraisers are ex-body men, the kings of complainers, but this is beyond normal. Kinda almost makes me feel sorry for them.

Appraisers are decent people, and I get along great with most of them. Hell, some of them I really like. So it’s not contradictory to have some empathy for them. Many appraisers are actually on our side when it comes to the crap we have to deal with from insurance companies. Lately, even more appraisers are siding with us.

There are several major factors that are creating disgruntled appraisers. The first is this “live dispatch” systems that many insurers are now employing. Instead of giving appraisers a list of cars to look at and leaving it to the appraisers to plan their day and their travel route, many companies are using this new zombie system. Now, appraisers log onto their computer system first thing in the morning and get their first assignment. A computer determines, based on priority, which appraiser looks at which vehicle. Priority is the key word here. Who’s priority? What criteria are used to determine priority? It sure isn’t appraiser convenience. An appraiser who at one time worked in area A, can now be sent to areas B and C to meet this digital priority demand. And don’t we all just love dealing with new appraisers? And don’t appraisers just love dealing with new shops?

Traveler’s started using this new system several months ago in my area. We just repaired a car that had four supplements. That means the vehicle was viewed five times by one of their appraisers. Three different appraisers were involved in writing those supplements. Now that is efficiency! Every time a different appraiser looked at the vehicle he had to unravel a mess and try to figure out what was happening with the repair.

Once an appraiser finishes writing a claim he logs on to the computer again and is told where to go next. I could have a supplement ready for that very appraiser, but he cannot take advantage of the convenience of him already being here. I have to call the supplement hotline and have the supplement scheduled for dispatch while he drives across the state to do a supplement on a vehicle that some other appraiser initially wrote.

Some insurers have been doing this for years. Allstate and Progressive instantly come to mind. It’s always been a pain in the ass. Now it seems every company is operating the same way. Insurance executives rave about this new way of doing business. But they are the only ones who seem impressed. And for good reason. They have their collective asses on the line.

If you haven’t noticed, every insurance company in existence has made a sport of stealing managers from Progressive. Everyone’s impressed with Progressive’s phenomenal growth. Ignoring the fact that Progressive went from seeking only non-standard insurance business to spending a half billion dollars per year on advertising to attract normal customers, many insurers see Progressive managers as the answer to their dwindling market share. But they are dead wrong.

It’s interesting to see Progressive in their current situation. They hired an army of empty headed zombies, spent millions indoctrinating them at their re-education camps, groomed them as obedient company robots, only to loose many of them to other companies that want to learn the secrets to idiocy. Managers are leaving like a colony of army ants to harass other groups of appraisers. So instead of just one company infected with this zombie disease, it is beginning to spread like the plague.

When these Progressive managers move in, take over and destroy these other companies they bring with them their zombie dispatch systems. These managers have their reputations invested in these systems. When these systems fail miserably the managers can’t admit there is a problem with the system. They blame the problems on the appraisers who haven’t been through Progressive’s re-education camps. Those appraisers who aren’t being fired for being thinking individuals are quitting and looking elsewhere.

But where else is there to look? Even Amica, a company that is consistently rated number one by its policy holders and body shops alike, even they are getting stupid. Blinded by a shiny house of cards built on phony numbers and phony people, other insurers are thoughtlessly converting to the religion of Progressive. Progressive has become the Jim Jones and David Koresh of the insurance world. Koolaid and Fire are the Deities. Insurers are giving up their people, their ethics and their position on the JD Powers insurer satisfaction index to become a member of Progressive’s church. And like those followers of Jones and Koresh, they are giving up the people who mean the most to them–their families. Loyal employees, appraisers who have worked for these companies for twenty or more years are being forced out because they either refuse to or are unable to adapt to the mindless changes that are taking place.

As shops, we have to deal with unhappy appraisers or new people who are clueless. Suddenly companies that had always paid fairly are now refusing to pay a fair rate, or pay for necessary procedures. CarStar wanted us all to give a “responsible push back.” Well, guess who is giving an irresponsible push back in the opposite direction? What do those CarStar geniuses have to say now?

With just the slightest effort on your part, you can help put an end to this spreading Progressive disease. It’s so freakin easy to stop. You just have to say no. Do not accept unfair compensation for your work. It’s that simple. Be a man (or a woman) will you? File complaints against appraisers and companies refusing to pay fairly. Make some noise. Call your attorney general. Don’t waste your time with your insurance departments.

For the most part insurance appraisers are our friends. They need our support. More importantly, your family needs your support. Don’t cheat your family out of its future because you don’t have what it takes to stand up to the insurance industry and reclaim what was once yours. The future of our industry depends on you. Do your part. Grow some damn gonads.

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Comments

30 Comments on The Progressive Disease Spreads, Becoming a Plague

  1. Ernest A. Wisniewski on Wed, 17th Oct 2007 2:33 pm
  2. Progressive Insurance is the biggest problem out there right now for the shops that do quality repair work. That however has been changing, because consumers are asking intelligent questions of the agents before they are signing insurance contracts.

    I’ll simply show my customers some of the articles I read on a daily bases, about how Progressive deals with their insureds. I don’t have to say anything negative, because there is an abundance of information in print all about how Progressive deals with their customers. I have found most customer are not renewing with Progressive once there policy term is up.

    If these other insurers think Progressive has the plan and steal their key employees to emunlate Progressives using the “cheaper is better” idea they will be loosing their market share just like Progressive has been.

    Why would anyone advertize to any potential customers; “You will be receiving the lowest quality job for the cheapest price”. That is what they are doing by racing to the bottom of consumer satisfaction rankings.

    Maybe this plan will work in areas where customers are only buying liability insurance. However the better paying customers that are paying for full coverage insurance won’t stand for paying for something and getting nothing in return. To think any decent customer would be willing to accept the lowest quality repair is beyond reasoning.

    The profit the insurance company might make in the beginning will be lost to legal defence when the customers are not satisfied.

    Ernie

  3. Skitch Davis on Wed, 17th Oct 2007 9:53 pm
  4. The major plus to the Progressive business plan is the overall reduction of the current repair over capacity now in place in our industry.

    The poorly managed shops of whom have signed up with Pro’s HMO for car repair, are going broke as predicted.. The non bodyman/technician of whom owns Fox Collision, is finding that out intimately. He has supposedly filed bankrupty in the Tulsa area…. In Kansas City,for example, his Progressive serving shop has yet to ever make overhead..

    This and these are fine examples of our capitalist ‘sink or swim’ system at it’s finest. The Insurance Cartel, fueled by Progressive’s flash in the pan lead, has come to the broad realization that repair facilities such as ours are for their exclusive use, to be buffaloed and intimidated into financing their losses. The Cartel will eventually run out of victim repair facilities and into a brick wall, of ‘do it professionally’ shops of whom do not turn out used car fly-spray bubble-gum work for the retail public passed of as professional quality…

    Henceforth Progressive has made a temporary go of accepting the liabilities of every non-driving, hat on backwards soul with several pages of driving history they can sign up.

    The disease has quickly and easily spread thru out their industry, via the anti-trust laws the Cartel are immune to. This brings to the forefront the need we, in our industry have for education in business practices to negate these efforts for our own good.

    And I do not relate to the “Lean and Mean” BS either. We are professionals of whom are turning out high quality repairs of which our clientele have been accustomed to in the past, and still expect, in spite of the last 24 months of Cartel upheaval…

    Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts. If I am off base, please advise me of what I may have missed since owning my own shop since 1973. That was a time when the labor rate was $11, and we dealt with ethical, for the most part, Cartel Members….I must admit that I do not miss hanging 8 ft long quarter panels on 1972 Imperial tudor hardtops, but with today’s mess we have allowed ourselves into, I am not really sure…

    It is time to reclaim our businesses and realize exactly who our customer actually is….The vehicle owner.

    Play fair even though they do not… By properly serving our customers, we will come out on top conducting business in that fashion.

  5. Bobby Wright on Fri, 19th Oct 2007 6:44 am
  6. I can assume that by now most of the colision repir industry is aware of Progressive and the malicious way it plays games with the shops that are not their preferred idiots. We have all heard it enough, though it seems like someone has to hit us on the head to get us to move. The insured or claimant is told that “We have a network of body shops that can start on your car immediately, get it back to you quicker than other shops and will not cost you anything out of pocket over your deductible. Now this shop that you are suggesting to take it to is known to take longer and charge more for unnecessary repairs. If you chose to take it there you may have to pay for extra rental and any costs not approved by Progressive”. I truly believe that the majority of Progressive insureds believe this.(unless they have had a previous experience with an accident, and because isn’t everyone sooo happy on the Progressive commercials?) And all they want is to get there car repaired with no hassle. But what happens if the insured or claimant stands up and says that they want their shop to repair their car? Progressive creates a self -fulfilling prophecy! The car gets to your shop, we tell the customer it is a 5 day job, but because it is Progressive, it may take a little longer due to Progressive’s supplement process. (OK, 1st thing, we have just thrown a possible negative in the repair. “Progressive said it might my shop longer….”) We take the car in, blueprint it, create the supplement and call Progressive. 2 days later the youngster with a associates degree in history comes by to reinspect. He puts in his system all of the things you discuss and says after it is approved with his supervisor, he will send you the supplement. Two days later you receive the supplement back with half of the things we needed although at lesser values, some items we didn’t ask for and don’t need and some items we needed but are not listed on the supplement. We spend a couple of hours changing our supplement to match theirs and then a couple of hours to create another supplement adding back the things we need and taking the things we didn’t need off. We call Progressive and in a couple of days they are back, we go through the same process, get a supplement back missing some different items and adding some more items we didn’t need. This goes on for sometimes 4, 5 or 6 supplements. The five day job is ready for delivery in 15 days and meanwhile destroyed our production schedules. By this time regardless who the customer thinks is responsible for all of the delays, they have had a miserable experience. More so than not, the shop has paid some rental because Progressive has said NO to which there is no recourse by the shop but to file a complaint and just pay it for the sake of the customer. Also because Progressive did not pay for all of the materials, necessary processes or parts necessary, we felt we should pass on some of those cost to the customer so they would know that Progressive did not fulfil their obligation to make the car whole again. Progressive was right, “if you take it to the shop of you choice, it may take longer and you may have to pay some of the expense yourself. Now our customer will probably know that we did the best for the repair of their car, but don’t you know that they may wonder would the Progressive shop have done the same repair for less and quicker?

    This is malicious and preplanned. When will it all end and what will it take?

  7. Bob Isham on Fri, 19th Oct 2007 9:22 am
  8. John has once again hit the nail on the head. The good news about Progressive is that they are losing market share. Sales are down and the only area of growth is the big rig commerical trucks. What they may not realize is that big
    rig truckers talk to each other and when they get screwed over on truck repairs
    they will tell others. Bad news travels fast.

    A friend, now retired from the collision industry, recently told me his opinion off why Progressive is able to get customers to follow them like sheep to the Concerige shoshops. His feeling was they may have a class of “mentalily challengened” customers? It is easier to herd dumber people than smarter one.

    For anyone that doubts Johns comments about the issues facing Progressive
    they should check the Website: http://www.jobvent.com and click on this insurer. At
    this site the employees “vent” their frustrations with their employer.

    Although we don’t see much of Progressive due to their ability to steer their
    customers it is nice to know they have stopped growing and are having serious
    employee problems. We have learned they have declared over 2,000 cars that
    were fixed at Concerige shops as “total losses”. We have only be responsible
    for two of these but we are not trying read hard.

    I agree (with the exception of Progressive and Nationwide staff) that most
    appraisers are decent people “just doing their job”. Those with a brain
    understand the plight of our industry and try to make things work out.

    Keep up the good work John. It is always refreshing to read your opinions.

  9. EHRHEART COLLISION INC on Fri, 19th Oct 2007 9:50 am
  10. The Progressive rep told one of my customers that i was a small shop and that they (small shops ) close up all the time and then they would not have a warranty. I’ve been in buisness since 1989 and have 5 employees and dont plan on closing my doors anytime soon !! My shop is actually bigger and has more employees than their shop on the other side of town. It seems there is no end to the bs they will use to try and scare people to go their shops. Somebody need to find a way to put an end to all of their steering customers by use of scare tactics !!
    Robert S Ehrheart Jr.

  11. Skitch Davis on Fri, 19th Oct 2007 5:33 pm
  12. I thououghly enjoy having a repair project in my facility with Progressive involvement. Progressive kiddies do their best to self fulfill the prophecies of which I had predicted with my real customer, the vehicle’s owner. My customers think I must be telepathic to T, as all comes true as discussed above…!!!!

    The major problem I have great difficulty with, was the above post mentioning things of the same sort I have experienced. Any Insurance Cartel Crew Member of whom slamdunks my facility (or any one else’sfor that concern) has just opened a door of which, when dealt with properly, is still a profittable situation.

    Upon having a repair agreement with any customer, new to us or a repeat customer, I do not take lightly ANY tampering with my private contractual matters and/or situation I may have in place with that party, be it verbal, or by signed repair order. Business matters are a somewhat fragile thing, easily swayed by those having the powerful status and Cartel influence of ‘good hands’ and passing themselves off as the neighbor of whom would never return your lawnmower out of gas, and with a bent crankshaft…

    When enough doubt in our facility’s abilities, quality or warranty are intimidatinlgy placed in a customers mind by the influential Cartel, to convince them to the point of moving their vehcle, or when a customer relates that they have been directly instructed by the Cartel to move their vehicle, for whatever reasoning, that is where they qualify for the doorprize.

    They then pay a deceptive referral fee of “X” percentage of the total repair list value of the repair. This is in conjunction with usual disassembly for diagnosis, towing fees, storage and administrative fees incurred, all of which are paid upon the vehicle being picked up, just as in the case of a total loss determination.

    This more profit than one would ever expect to make on the average self-serving Cartel sheet, especially a Progressive-ly involved project…

    I have had to educate several, Geico, USAA, Progressive, Am Fam and others on a repeated basis. They never seem to learn from their actions….

    Let’s all learn something, and take a lesson from the pros, from the very Cartel itself— >”Your call may be recorded for the purposes of training and/or quality control”<– (Or to screw a shop around at a later date….) What are the poor Cartel Members going to do, sue me for slander, defamation of character, libel, or maybe for being a professional businesman of whom does not appreciate being tampered with???

    Just some thoughts to toss in your mix. Thanks for being there!!

  13. Mastertech (Bob Winfrey) on Fri, 19th Oct 2007 9:04 pm
  14. Allstate must be dealing drugs as a sideline. Adjuster I’ve known for years told me if I stuck to my charges on a total loss that he would never write an estimate on my property again. He also said he would bash me with any customers he could steer away from my facility. (be careful what you wish for)
    Five letters went out the next day to his supervisor and his supervisor’s supervisor and the president of the company, DOI and Attorney Generals office.
    Allstate went from our MAP (mutual assistance program) program to our RAP (restricted access program) I don’t need any bullcrap from any of them anymore. They can look from accross the street for all I care.
    This business is tougher now than it ever has been. I used to enjoy it but even trying to help the sheep is about useless anymore.
    Let em get holed down the street, I even recomend the butchers to the price shoppers.

  15. Skitch Davis on Sat, 20th Oct 2007 9:52 am
  16. Masterman, do not feel alone!! I was assisting one of my customers in a State Farm involved matter regarding related damage to a front bumper cover, fender, hood, lamps, etc, typical deer collision.

    After a clash with their Messenger over attempts at passing related damage as unrelated on to my customer’s responsibility, I am a bad bad boy.

    My customer finally buckled and let his car go to a DRP for SF. That move cost the Farm almost two grand additional dollars over what my dissagreement was… Upon post repair inspection of the venicle and paperwork for my customer, we found the DRP shop was paid without question to properly repair, via cost shifting phony undamaged areas of the vehicle. Their attempts at spanking me cost them dearly… Repair areas I refused to attempt are now cracking and failing as I had predicted, to boot…

    Just properly fix the car and go on the first time!

    But oh no.. I was made to be the bad guy as usual.

    This matter has resulted in my facility being placed on their RWSP, Really Watched Shop Program, and now have all claims we are involved with, routed to the KC area main honcho, and his number two man, both of whom I have known for twenty years.

    I just love all of the personal attention, and when they call me to define a charge on a vehicle they have browbeaten people into moving to another facility labelled “Deceptive Referral Fee”..

    I feel soooo special……!

  17. Izzy on Sun, 21st Oct 2007 9:59 pm
  18. There has been recent publicity about airline gate agents actually sabotaging their own reservation departments’ overbooking policies just to try to preserve a little customer service in an industry whose reputation has gone down the tubes. Recognize the feeling??? The problem (that was identified by some lowly anonymous gate agent in the above-mentioned article) is the unmitigated greed factor introduced into management in the recent past by an army of recent MBAs who have replaced the prior generation of actual aviation people. The new reservation and booking policies have nothing to do with taking care of customers at all. Sound familiar??? I think the bigger question for both industries (and we could add in health care and others, too) is: is it too late to refocus on the real priorities? Does the customer matter at all? Or, has too much been lost to what has been redefinied by this new generation of “managers” as customer service? If you have any confusion about your answer, just call the automated attendant at the number on the back of your insurance card. The punch line is this: the policy holder is being screwed even worse than the repairer.

  19. mini me on Tue, 23rd Oct 2007 6:22 pm
  20. Progressive looks like they have caused nothing but unhappiness everywhere. Unhappy customers, unhappy repair shops, unhappy employees, and now unhappy stockholders.

  21. john digilio on Wed, 31st Oct 2007 12:20 pm
  22. not to get away from the progressive issue but is state farm really screwing there customer’s with this prior damage deductions b_lls__t and getting away with it? i have had several claims with this prior damage and they have deducted that amount from the estimate and the customer has to pay the rest. if you hit my car and i happened to have a dent already there you are going to still pay for the damages you did and don’t tell me you have to deduct refinish time on the estimate. so state farms new way of hammering the customer and bodyshop is prior damage. good luck

  23. Concerned Customer on Thu, 1st Nov 2007 12:10 pm
  24. Why should we believe what you say about insurance companies? I, for one, trust my insurance company more than a body shop. I remember growing up and getting this advise from my parents: “Be careful when you have to repair your car. They will try taking advantage of you.” I’m pretty sure repair facilities didn’t get this reputation from an insurance company. Without insurance companies acting as regulators, a body shop would take advantage of every customer that walks through the door. I also understand there truly are honest, trustworthy, body shops out there, but how can a customer differentiate one from another?

    Response from Author:

    Concerned Customer, the next time you want to masquerade as someone other than a Progressive employee, at least have the brains to do it from your home computer so your IP address doesn’t give you away as the moronic fraud that you really are. There is no need to try to hide your identity. Insurers are more than welcome to post a coherent response on this site. Your valid point that there are many crooks running body shops is overshadowed by your dishonest delivery. Grow a set of balls and post honestly.

    Now who do you think readers will trust?

  25. mini me on Thu, 1st Nov 2007 8:46 pm
  26. I would like to try to answer your question Concerned Customer. It can be hard to tell the difference between a dishonest shop and an honest one. I think if I needed one I would ask people in the car business. Car dealers, detail shops ect. maybe people you know with nice cars. If you hear the same shop name a few times check them out. Ask them if they have an agreement or a contract with your insurance co. If they do, ask them if you can see it. It’s your car right? If the shop is working for you, they shouldn’t hide anything from you that requires shortcuts or counterfeit parts on your investment. Be careful of advice from insurance claims people as many will attempt to “steer” you as trained and required by their management. Many recieve bonuses for each consumer that they steer. Others are graded on a “points” system and are reprimanded if they fall below a quota. It’s sad because many would steer you to a place that they know nothing about, or worse, that they know is inferior but they are pressured to send you to. I think good shops will give you a more personal service and will show you some work in process as well. Today it’s really important to find somebody who will be in your corner. Happy hunting when you need one!

  27. progressive manager on Fri, 2nd Nov 2007 4:28 pm
  28. As an ex bodyman I understand where some of you are coming from. But, the fact of the matter is, there are almost no out of pocket payers anymore and the insurance company is going to write the ticket on nearly every job. As far as the inexperience in Progressive adjusters (and other large companies) its not as much a conspiracy to hire and brainwash as it is that experienced bodymen and shop managers will not put up with the arguments on a daily basis for 40k.

    I oversee the adjusters for the Progressive “DRP’s” and I can honestly say that my guys write good sheets and have good relationships with their shops. Why not, we send them anywhere from 25-140k A MONTH in business (my group anyway). With that kind of steady work, is it really worth arguing over a couple hours in repair time, more than 2 hours for set-up or more $ for seam sealer?

    Without killing me here – lets have a dialog of what you think can make our relationships better rather than butting heads at every interaction.

  29. Bob Isham on Fri, 2nd Nov 2007 5:20 pm
  30. To the Progressive Manager-
    Wow-where do I start? Go to LA, Chicago, Phoenix, St.Louis, Boston, etc. .
    Pick up the phone book and call “any” collision repair shop and them who
    is the worst insurer to deal with. Virtually everyone will say “Progressive”.
    Does this give anyone a clue? A number of collision associations have even
    done surveys where insurance company claims practices were rated. I am
    pretty sure you will find Progessive hugging the bottom of the charts.

    The entire business model of the company is built on “fighting claims”. You
    can also use that same phone book and call any lawyer who handles auto
    claims and they will echo the collision shop owners feelings.

    In our area the Progressive DRPs are usually far from the cream of the crop.
    Some months ago is was discovered that the Progressive Conceriege
    program had purchase back over 2000 cars. Post Repair Inspectors are now
    having a field day looking at some of the poorly fixed vehicles.

    Good collision shops have learned you don’t have to sleep with someone to
    get what you need. Know your onions and fix cars correctly. Take care of
    your customers (remember your only customer is the vehicle owner). The
    shop that thinks the insurer is their customer does not belong in this
    industry.

    Progressive is, in my opinion, one of the most evil insurers to sell coverage.
    I have no doubt that what comes around, goes around. Years ago attended
    a seminar and the speaker explained his rule of “3-33”. Basically if you
    treat someone very well (do a good repair, take care of the vehicle owner)
    they will tell 3 people about their experience. If you screw them over they
    will go out of their way to tell 33 people how bad you treated them. It is
    my opinion that Progressive has badly treated many people and the day
    will soon come when everyone is aware of how bad they are. Allstate and
    State Farm found this out years ago and they use the “good hands” and
    “good neighbor” concept. No they are not angels but next to Progessive
    they have become “Saints”.

  31. progressive manager on Fri, 2nd Nov 2007 7:57 pm
  32. I hear you Bob. But, no insurer (or any corporation) is an angel and I dont see the business model changing significantly anytime soon. My shops are also DRP for several other carriers, so they are not the bottom of the barrel. they just surrendered to the fact that we need to work together because neither one of us are going anywhere. And as much as we BS and say the customer is the most important, the fact is profitability is the most important factor for both sides.
    Progressive is now the 3rd largest auto insurer and you are going to see more of us (even if the bottom falls out).
    Again I ask, what can I do as a manager to improve our relationship.

  33. Skitch Davis on Sat, 3rd Nov 2007 12:28 am
  34. Mr. Progressive manager,

    My actual customer is my vehicle owner, as much as the Insurance Cartel clouds that fact in the minds of insureds and claimants. Our industry is repairing that car, yours is not. We and the Cartel Member we pay for our ‘garagekeepers protection’ are on the hook for the product we put on the street. Ask any judge in the land. Your retained roomfulls of snakes take great delight in that fact. The spirit and purpose of Insurance in the true sense was to indemnify persons, putting them back to zero, or in as good a shape and condition as humanly possible, pre-loss.

    Now, especially with Progressive’s, and all other Cartel members dream-world of auto claim handling, there has been engineered the perfect world for your operations. Your snakes have dreamed up the scheme of having short minded repairers sign up to shove your desired slipshod repairs out the door, with them assuming all the liability, and yours. Should things go south, both Cartel Members come out on top! The signed up Member says ‘defend me’ to the repairer and the garagekeepers Member tells him, tough luck, ‘intentional act of assuming excess and avoidable liability is not covered in your protection policy’. This results in the Cartel’s intentional placement of ALL referred claimants and insureds in jeopardy, hoping the repair facility owner has amassed enough lake property, fancy cars, homes, and bassboats to cover the lawsuit… What is the definition of bad faith, at minimum here. I am seeing so many outright fraudulent acts committed on a daily basis, it is baffling to the mind. Truth in advertising is a laughing matter to tears.

    The Cartel has buffaloed our industry long enough. Stay the hell out of my private contractual matters, my repair processes, my repair bays and out of my paint booth. And while on the same subject matter, your ‘inspectors’ of whom take three hours, two and a half hours of which is spent talking on their mobile phones, all to generate a less than thousand dollar sheet, can stay off of my real estate in total as well, because I feel really bad, causing them to cut that many high school classes in one afternoon.

    Keep up the good work. I’m looking anxiously for the next big chain of shops dumb enough to be as deeply Cartel involved as Fox, to go under. Thanks for aiding in the reduction of repair capacity nationwide, as it helps the remainder, of which will hopefully have wised up by osmossis.

  35. mini me on Sat, 3rd Nov 2007 7:25 am
  36. P/M, read what you wrote, “profitability is the most important factor for both sides”. Do you really believe that? This idea is seriously flawed. The most important factor is the product or service that you provide. The profit comes as a result of a good product or service. Wow, these are interesting times.

  37. Skitch Davis on Sat, 3rd Nov 2007 9:25 am
  38. Yes mini, you are correct in that thinking. The past theory I have utilized is one of take care of your customer, do your work as well as if it was your own, and the business end of the pennies will handle itself. For thirty five years this has been a successful method. Now, with the people of my age/crew retiring from the uppers of the Insurance Cartel, there are replacements of college geek kids who grew up obviously playing pac-hman, or with themselves, and have no common sense whatsoever. I am so sick of bottled water sucking keyboard beating idiots, that would not know what paint gun is from a hammer, trying to tell me how to repair a vehicle, just where I am to access parts, how long it is supposed to take, and what I am to be paid. Try this at the local wal-mart. Just lay an item on the counter and ask for a manager, then tell himk you are demanding to see net cost on the product, and you are going pay him half of the price as marked. Advise me of any success.

    Our answer to overcoming the Cartel created artificial marketplace they have somewhat reduced our industry to, is very simple. Just say ‘NO’. There is gross misconception of shop owners of who the customer really is. The intimidation, fear, threats and coercion in place and constantly hammered, courtesy of the Cartel and their Messengers, is placed upon all they deal with, insureds, claimants, and repair facilities.

    In eliminating this entire bad situation, the customer recognition thing is the key. Advise our customers, the vehicle owners that is, that their Protection (Racket) Provider is failing to provide protection to the tune of XXX dollars, and they need to contact them, advising that they have been made privy to the scams, and demand to be placed whole as in their contract, or bad faith is looming on the horizon. If they are a claimant, advise them to contact the poor soul of whom crashed into them and tell them they will be sued personally for the balance of proper repairs, as their Cartel Provider is not covering their butt, as they are contractually required to do.

    The day and time of our facilities being ‘one stop’ shopping for customers is diminishing as fast as refinish labor times, and bought-off estimating programs are popping up. I used to pride myself in not having but two contacts in a repair for my customer. The call of ‘I had a wreck’, and the call of ‘you are fixed up in fine shape and ready for the road’ was my prided speciallty. This was my mistake entirely, possibly as all repaires in total. We have masked and shielded from the motoring public the frauds, sleazes, cheapshots and slamdunks that have been dealt with over the years, of which at one time I began to consider as normal.

    I now provide my customers with printed matter of just how the Cartel is perpetuating fraud upon them, and some insight as what to expect in entering this world of snakes and lizzards, all of whom claim to be such wonderful friends, neighbors and hands while saving 15%…. I have been accused of having ESP, and possessing a crystal ball, upon receipt of a customer’s call after dealing with the Cartel to report a claim.

    I get my customer involved in the whole matter, for two reasons. First, some, not all are very interested in their vehicles, and second, this helpd to make them aware just how useless their good hands and neighbors in total really are. As repairers, we have to do this one customer at a time. The Cartel has already defrauded their customer into buying a contract under the false pretense of indemnity, and we as repairers must burst the bubble to clearly illustrate that fact. The Cartel does a beautiful ‘scripted’ job of doing so on their own.

    Progressive, and others have taken full advantage of vehicle owners who look upon their cars much as I do my refrigerator. I am guilty, of ignoring it until it ceases to keep my iced tea iced, kicking it when it quits, and will reluctantly wipe the handle, only when it is so sticky I have difficulty on pulling my fingers off fo it. We all see vehicles every day that are ignored, unmaintained rolling dumpsters.

    Hence the phony ‘con-see-aire’ thing. The poor dumb owner has no actual clue of what is happening to them. All they know, is that a price chiseled cheap teddy bear and a lollipop was stuck in their kid’s face, while unbeknownst something else was being stuck some where else, in deeply them. they have no clue as what shop the liability and ‘life time’ waranty for the cheapshot butchery performed upon their vehicle, ‘used car bubblegum and flyspray’ style, was slicked off upon. Sure wasn’t Poorgressive.

    There should be legislation introduced bringing to the forefront the Cartel’s method and liability transfer scheme, and how it end effects the consumer, being their victim, our customer.

    The insured, for example, swallows the bait and is deferred/defrauded to a unthinking repair DRP facility. The unthinking repairman, takes the Cartel’s pat on back, feeling those ‘good hands’ (that are really in his knickers) for saving them $50 in utilizing junkyard mechanical safety related parts in butchering the car back together. A week later, the car crashes thereafter, killing a load of cubscouts and the snake attorney’s wife piloting the unsafe vehicle, in the process…

    The Cartel is the winner. The DRP contracted Member is clear, having contractually bound the shop to save and hold them harmless, covering all slither/coiling fees, the Garagekeepers Member then heartily claims no coverage, by way of ‘intentional act’ clauses, in performing unsafe repair, by pre- private contractual influence on the work product. They win, leaving the customer of whom has been in a premeditated method by the Cartel, placed in this position, to recover the repair facility’s real estate, fancy cars and bass boats to settle the lawsuit. This is unfair to the consumer, leaving him/her possibly out in the cold. This has to be viewed from the consumer’s side
    of the table, as any ‘treatment’ of a repair facility is moot. Insurance Catel regulators are unconcerned regarding anything but the end consumer. We could and should have said NO repeatedly, years ago, as I have not a problem in doing currently, on sometimes a daily basis.

    Even slicker in this slick, is that there is no printed paper trail of the direct Cartel referral to the repair facility. All that is in existence is a signed private contract between the vehicle owner and the shop..

    If you are involved in ANY DRP, have your snake of choice slither over it one time. He will probably rattle his tail, off dreaming of the firm financil future your continued involvement will provide him. Just thoughts from a dumb bodyman learning from the Cartel.

  39. Bob Isham on Sat, 3rd Nov 2007 9:29 am
  40. Mr. Progressive Manager:

    I think Skitch should have driven home the point that your captive shops are only filling you need for crap work. As for other insurance companies operating in the smae manner I don’t agree. Many insurers recognize the need to be fair and pay us well for our services. Surely all of insurers have that legal obligation.

    As for the fact that you are #3 don’t look behind you since the Gecko is going to go flying by you in 2007. Progressive is losing business because people are getting smarter about who the good guys are. They shifted gears and went after the big truck market and they will soon find those folks jumping ship once they screw them over.

    I think your problem is that when you were on the shop side you worked in hack shops and learned just what they preached which is “quick, dirty, sloppy, and flag as many hours as possible.

    Shops who are a success don’t need a single insurer referral since they have satisfied customers who come back and send their friends (Rule of 3-33).

    I have been a student of this industry for over 45 years (26 years on the insurance “dark side”) and I have seen many other low end carriers fall by the side of the road. 50,000 shops can’t be wrong–we all know you stink, even the ones that are on your program know it.

  41. Progressive Manager on Sat, 3rd Nov 2007 1:24 pm
  42. Nuts. All of you.
    You are so engaged in the hunt for a conspiracy that not one of you make a single, rational point.
    The problem is, some insurers are too lazy/stupid/ignorant to stand up to you boneheads which makes it tougher for a person that is trained or new to negotiate a repair with you.
    I have 2 questions:
    1 – Think your healthcare provider gets paid what he bills everytime?
    2 – Ever have the pharmacy tell you that only generic drugs are covered?
    Are those conspiracies by the Cartel too, or is it just the world that we live in and you dinosaurs just dont know how to adapt.
    Maybe its the paint fumes.

  43. mini me on Sat, 3rd Nov 2007 2:59 pm
  44. I didn’t expect you to “get it” but you will. And you’re right we are “nuts” which makes us a little different than the heathcare industry. Don’t you think?

  45. Skitch Davis on Sun, 4th Nov 2007 4:32 pm
  46. Yes PM, we (repairers) are without doubt, COMPLETELY nuts, and are bone heads for not telling more Messengers in the past to F__ off. Look where it has gotten us. Nuts in the first degree, for allowing any pipsqueek to ‘negotiate’ any thing is BS. I do not run an auction service, I don’t ‘bid’ on repair projects, henceforth I do not quibble regarding a vehicle’s needed, justifiable(as if I need to ‘justify’ jack $hit to anyone), ethical and safe professional repairs. For the better equation, I’m surprised your group has not signed up Earl Scheib! He used to advertise ‘In by nine out by five-today and today only, five dollars free body work with every paint job’ didn’t he. You should remember, as you obviously were a longtime employee for old Earl, producing this kind of cutrate crap work, of which fails to even begin to indemnify your customer/victim, and is left to be stuck with, is the current Cartel method. A vehicle repair, if someone were to actually follow your ‘ dream guidelines’ to the letter, would be a real sight to see when completed. Paint applied over 150 raw bondo and zeroed existing finish, jambs full of crap, blends in the middle of panels, remember you only paid for half, that’s what you get, and cars permanently foggy with overspray three feet from any repair area. Think about it you dummy.
    Go to the grocery and toss in an additional loaf of bread and tell the clerk that one is free…..

    Dinosaur!!! Yes and damned well proud of it. I have yet to see a laplick computer laid on a fender, fix the damned fender yet. Thirty five years of sucking paint fumes and dealing with your sorry ‘progressive’ a$$es has produced what it has. A fed up individual of whom is undeterred by the Cartel’s threats, coercion, intimidations, and customer screwarounds. I have least hesitation in advising EXACTLY to the inch, where the bus stops… Yes, my years of intense ‘training’ has had good result for me. I stand vertically, only touching my ankles to install socks, once a day. My way or the hiway, I have my practice in, and enough fifty dollar weeks under my belt. I have refinished firetrucks for my local fire dept. and charged them–‘thanks guys for your good volunteer efforts, don’t even think twice, won’t dream of taking a dime’. The Cartel, on the other hand, can explain to their customer/victim the cheapshot drivel and haul one out over junkyard parts and ‘diminished refinish time’ on a repaired panel, of which by the way, is FULL refinish, PLUS prime and block.

    And to correct my previous thoughts, I did leave the thought between the lines, that I’m personally as glad, as may others be also, that some poor liability sucking soul does clean up the messes at ‘used car’ repair rates that the average Progressive insured cracks up… Progressive’s M-O of insuring every ring in the nose hat on backward non-driving drunken numbskull, as well as some upstanding but unknowing individual/victims, and then beating up repair facilities into financing their losses just may have bit them in the butt, finally and at last.

    And PM, just too bad the doctors and pharmacies can’t hold their customer until they are paid. I’m sure that you are taking full advantage of that. And I am in hopes that your inside people never cease in conducting the three-way calls, intimidating your insureds and claimants into releasing their vehicles into your shoddy-shop system after they have made prior arrangements.

    It is obvious that you are well aware of where your bread and butter come from, even though you may still suffer from the past professional trauma of being referred to repeatedly by the Cartel as a ‘bone head’, for not going along with every ‘went to a two day meeting and today I are one, and now I know everything’ trained individual that darkened your doorstep….

  47. anish on Tue, 6th Nov 2007 9:19 pm
  48. Hi dear all,
    I am a progressive customer for last 2 years.The first accident (my fault) in my life happened today. I own a 2002 Honda accord. After reading all these I have a question still in mind. shall I go to the progressive directed repair facility (concierge) or go to the authorised honda repair facilit of my choice. I prefer a good repair facility which can give warrenty on the repair. Also I am planning to switch to state farm by november 25th. If I repair at their concierge repair facility and swith the insurance (within 19 days from today) am I still eligible for the warrany( warranty for repair as long as i own tha car)?

  49. Bob Isham on Wed, 7th Nov 2007 7:35 am
  50. Anish:

    Run like hell from any of Progressive’s shops. Find a consumer minded
    independent shop. Ask a friend, mechanic, car detailer and a local car nut
    you may know for a reference. Check with BBB, call the shop owner and
    discuss the warranty they offer, how long they have been in business and
    do they use “OEM” parts. Tour the shop and ask to look at cars in progress
    and finished vehicles.

    Sadly the chances of a good repair at a dealership is slim as you will find
    the insurance companies have most of them in their pockets.

    You have made a better choice with State Farm but I must say that they are
    now using some programs that could have serious implications. Insurance
    companies are often like mountain ranges since they go up and down. I
    feel Progressive is more like the bottom of ocean (murky, cold and nasty).

    FYI, Allstate writes a better contract with their new policy that is talked
    about on T.V.. Chubb is probably the best insurer but very expensive.
    Remember that car insurance is kind of like a pair of shoes–cheap is almost
    always “bad”.

  51. Bobby Wright on Wed, 7th Nov 2007 3:26 pm
  52. Anish,

    I would say that if you have had an accident today and you have Progressive Insurance, the cheap insurance honeymoon is getting ready to end. Ordinarily your best choice for a quality repair would be with an independent collision repair shop that looks, sounds and feels professional and concerned. There are plenty out there. But because you have Progressive, that is not going to happen unless you force it to happen and even then, the process will not be as smooth as it would if you had State Farm insurance. First thing, you are going to be intimidated into taking it to one of Progressives direct repair shops or their concierge service. They will tell you that if you take it anywhere else, you may not get the car back in a reasonable time or you may incur some of the costs that your choice of repair facility is charging for unnecessary repairs. Then Progressive will make this prophecy happen by sending someone out to write the estimate of repairs on your car that does not know how to put oil in his/her car much less what is necessary to safely repair your car. So with this incomplete estimate, the shop of your choice will have to request a supplement reinspection to get all of the items necessary to repair you car safely and correctly.. After a couple of days someone will come to your shop to go over the missed items. It may not be the same person that wrote the original estimate. (Progressive employees do not appear to stay long with the company) This person will go over with the shop all the missing items. He/She will then leave and the next day the shop will receive a supplement on the fax. But the supplement will be missing about half of the things the shop needed and quite often will have some items listed that the shop did not ask for or need. Now keep in mind the estimate that the car is repaired by is a legal and binding contract between you and the repair facility. This means the final bill must be consistent with all of the repairs made to your vehicle. So the shop calls Progressive again for another supplement reinspection. In a couple of days someone shows up at the shop. The same process happens again. Sometimes there will be 6 or more supplements on a Progressive repair. Now because of the games played with your car, the estimate and the shop of your choice, your repair will take longer than Progressive told you it would and if you are intimidated easily, you will probably be paying for some rental. Self fulfilled prophecy! Now you might have trouble finding a reputable repair facility that is willing to repair your car with Progressive as the paying insurance company. All I can say is I wish you well and call State Farm.

  53. Skitch Davis on Wed, 7th Nov 2007 9:54 pm
  54. And the newest progressive scripted concerto, is to now inform the non-linked to progressive, independent shop to completely take a hike. No supplements, no discussion, nothing. They then concentrate on intimidating, browbeating and threatening the insured or claimant into feeling they are boxed in, and that they are not going along with any other expense whatsoever. The customer, tired and at wit’s end with attempting to deal with the whole process of attempting to stand up for themselves, eventually fold to the Cartel desired level and position, feeling no other alternative but utilizing their suckshop program to ‘just get my car fixed, I don’t care anymore!”

    This scam works for the Cartel, as it then appears to any DOI or investigating body that the owner has chosen that road independently, with no outward evidence of the underlying Insurer applied pressure, coercion and no paper trail whatsoever. The guys finance huge snakepit/thinktanks to come up with these slick slicks, and are reaping the fraudulent benefit daily at the consumers, our(as repairers) expense.

    This is because very few of us, in keeping with good customer service in seeing that our customer’s Cartel Member performed as they were supposed to on our customer’s behalf, have ever delved in to the co-pay thing, as has the medical field. I guess that the med side of Cartel business is not legally required to indemnify the tonsilectomy patient, as they are the crashed car owner’s fender, you think?

  55. mini me on Wed, 7th Nov 2007 11:05 pm
  56. Anish, I am sure that by now you have made your decision. If you chose the Progressive network shop, PLEASE have it towed to the nearest post repair inspection facility when the Progressive shop is finished hammering on it. Don’t drive it, it may be a hazard and someone could get hurt. I read a couple of days ago that 2000 Concierge repaired vehicles have already been declared total losses after post repair inspections.

  57. Scott on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 9:21 am
  58. I have no idea why everyone thinks State Farm is sooooooooo good. I know here in the Pittsburgh area they have been nothing but a big pain in the ass to deal with. They have been trying to steer customers hard. When you do get the customer, State farm will not write the estimate for two weeks. If you need a supplement, thats a hole new story. Their not sure when they can get there. Then to get paid, wow, you wait another 2 weeks and sometimes have to call them a few times to remind them they owe you money. When thew customer complains State Farm tells them if they would have took it to one of “THEIR” shops we wouldn’t have had this problem. Now they do pay for most of what you need but since the “NEW SELECT SERVICE” deal started here in March it isn’t all roses. I am sure State Farm is NOT getting to the customer that did not use “their prefered shop” in a reasonable manor so they can blame the customers choice and try to get the customer to go to “their prefered shop” next time so these delay’s can be eliminated.
    For those that signed the “New Service Select Agreement”, I hope you read it and understand what it said. You are liable, and you only. State farm takes no liability for the repair what so ever! Even though you will repair it using the guildlines set forth by State Farm. Wait till you all have to buy your parts from where they tell you to and get a minimum mark up, buy another computer program that you pay a nice monthly fee for to be able to purchase these parts and track them for State Farm. Then when the part comes in damaged or wrong You will pay the rental car fee’s for the delay in the repair. Buy the way, from what I undersatnd, they are already talking to the paint manuf. about sweat heart deals. Meaning you will be buying your paint & materials from where “THEY” tell you to, for the price “THEY” set with the paint company with your minimum markup. Oh, this is gonna get real interesting in the next few years. But you DRP whore’s keep going. It’s gonna catch up to you if it hasn’t already. I’m sure it has, you just don’t know it YET.

  59. Understanding the Progressive Disease | on Sat, 9th Aug 2008 10:10 pm
  60. […] I explained in my recent column about the spread of the “Progressive Disease,” employees are leaving Progressive in herds. Not just low level appraisers, but mid and […]

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