Letter to CEO of CCC Information Services

December 3, 2008 by
Filed under: Collision Repair Industry 

Dear Mr. Githesh Ramamurthy:

Let me congratulate you on your latest version of CCC Pathways. Version 4.5 is absolutely no improvement over 4.4. In fact, your developers seem to have taken a step or two backward. In the little pamphlet that comes with your monthly update you list some of the new features. The heading for that section states,

CCC Pathways® latest release–version 4.5–introduces several enhancements to make estimating easier and support good relations between DRP repairers and insurers.

Could you please explain to your customers, Mr. Ramamurthy, just when did CCC become diplomats? Why do you feel the need to create better relations between repairers and insurers? And when did CCC become a tool for the DRP culture. Being a Republican who donated money to the Romney campaign this year, you should be a supporter of self sufficiency and independence. Supporting the DRP culture is contrary to those beliefs. Obama would be a big fan of the DRP culture if he had ever heard of it.

Collision repairers understand that it is the insurance industry who butters your bread. Why does CCC play games trying to win over both insurers and collision repairers? The collision repair industry would have more respect for your company if you just told us to go screw. At least then we could work on getting another estimating system–one with our interests in mind.

Anyway, back to your latest release. I am pleased to be able to save some paper now with your new Print Selected Pages option. Actually, because you refused to listen to your users for a decade, I developed some software that stripped out all that extra crap at the end of each estimate. I and many other Pathways users have been selectively printing estimates for many years now. But good effort. Nice of you to catch up with the rest of us.

I see you still have the same old tired user interface. Any idea when you’ll be updating that? It looks like something out of the 1980’s or 90’s. I just keep wondering 1) do you have any full time developers or programmers there in CCC world? And 2) if you do, what exactly do they do all day? Instead of spending so much energy developing new products that foster good relations between repairers and insurers, could you put some resources into Pathways? Maybe your kid can work on it during vacations and on weekends.

Could you enlighten the thousands of body shop users of Pathways, why, after a few short months you found it necessary to mess with the bumper refinishing prompt again. It took many years of persuasion and, finally, public humiliation for CCC to eliminate the prompt for painting bumpers on or off the vehicle. We were all relieved that you finally heard us. But as I predicted several months ago, right here on these pages, you caved to the insurance industry–yet again–and brought back that ridiculous bumper refinishing prompt.

Yes, now it is an option you can turn on and off, but that’s not the point. The point was, and still is, that this is a dishonest feature used by insurers to screw the collision repairers out of between $50 and $100 for every bumper refinished. Do you honestly think any shop owner is going to turn on the option to cheat himself out of money for every bumper he paints unless it is directed by one of his “insurance partners?”

What makes this even more ridiculous, and for me, more infuriating, is that you now have the option of making either the Yes or No button the default. Obviously you were reading my rants about that stupid prompt. I have written about that problem in Pathways bumper refinish formula here and in trade magazines for many years. I have also written many letters to your company begging them to either remove the bumper refinish option altogether or change the default button to Yes, but I was ignored. Now you have that option built into Pathways. Now you offer us the opportunity to choose either one?

You well know that the only people who will be using the bumper refinish prompt will be unscrupulous insurance personnel. Last year CCC finally admitted, reluctantly, that all paint manufacturers recommend painting bumpers off the vehicle in a separate operation. I predicted that CCC would sneak that bumper refinish prompt back into Pathways and you proved me correct. And you proved to repairers all across this Country that CCIS is beholden to the insurance industry.

Before writing this letter I looked you up on the Internet. You are called a “leader in technology.” I don’t see it. I don’t see much cutting edge technology going on at CCC. I just see money making gimmicks like your EZ-Net communications system. For years we were using a dial up service to access your network. When broadband became the standard we waited for CCC to switch their communications to the faster service. When, finally, you did make the switch, you decided to make some extra money off of it. You charge a monthly fee on top of what we are already paying for Pathways, and what we are paying for our local broadband connection. I refused to pay for broadband twice per month. and I am still using the dinosaur dial up method. Then a few months ago Pathways started using Aventail’s network security service to access your servers, which was a pain in the ass because if you restarted your computer and the service didn’t start you couldn’t upload files without manually restarting Aventail Connect. Now with version 4.5 you are still using Aventail, but you’ve integrated it into Pathways (which I’m happy with) but because you insist on charging for your broadband access, we now dial into your network and then hop onto Aventail’s VPN tunnel to reach your servers. That’s stupidity for the sake of a few dollars. It puts CCC following way behind in the technology race. Don’t be such a cheapskate. Hook all your users to your broadband network.

More proof of CCC’s lack of technology leadership is your new online updates. Most every other software vendor requiring regular updates has been handling the process over the Internet, automatically for many years. CCC just caught up. But it’s just a half-assed effort. In order for your update software to work, users have to remember to close Pathways every night before they go home. Why? My computer is loaded with freeware applications that check for updates online, download the updates, close the application, install the update and restart the application, all automatically. Why can’t Pathways do this? Did your cutting edge tech department not think of this, or was it beyond their programming capabilities? Perhaps you can hire some kids to work after school to do your programming for you. And forget the argument that someone has to log on to start Pathways. There are plenty of ways around that.

Everyone in the collision repair industry is thankful that the government is blocking CCC’s merger with Mitchell. Both the collision repair industry and the insurance industry will be hurt by decreased competition in the Estimating business. The competition with Mitchell wouldn’t be as problematic if you improved the quality of your product. You can do that by starting to listen to more the just the insurance companies. Start listening to collision repairers. Though many are ignoramuses, not all are. There are many bright people running body shops. Why not ask them what they want to see in an estimating system. Your programmers haven’t a clue what we want. And I’m not sure whether they know the basics of good software design either. Should you wish to solicit input from collision repairers, let me know. I can think of plenty of folks who would love to help.

John Shortell, BodyShop Solutions

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Comments

9 Comments on Letter to CEO of CCC Information Services

  1. Roy Smalley on Wed, 3rd Dec 2008 9:44 am
  2. Dang, and I thought I was long winded. Do you get paid by the word? Good points nevertheless, but com’on, you have to know you are peeing into the wind.

  3. John Shortell on Wed, 3rd Dec 2008 10:13 am
  4. Yeah, well, I need a good shower.

  5. Mark Pierson on Wed, 3rd Dec 2008 11:38 am
  6. After years of pleading with the DOJ to take these conspirators to task, it would be supreme irony if they turned attention onto themselves with their attempted merger with Mitchell.

    BTW, Speaking of irony… Smalley is the King of attempting the impossible!

  7. Nick Kostakis on Wed, 3rd Dec 2008 12:29 pm
  8. I ws one of the fools that spent 4 years getting it removed. In military terms, this is a hill that we’re willing to die on. In poker terms, we’re all in.

  9. I. Usedtocare on Fri, 5th Dec 2008 6:05 am
  10. They won’t make any substantial changes until they figure out if they will be merging with Mitchell. If that happens, they’ll have to choose which database to use, and if it’s Mitchell data they’ll have to integrate it in Pathways. That will be a major job, and probably the right time to rethink the application. If they don’t merge, then it’s still a big task to re-write Pathways using Motor data, but it’s a different one–I’d be willing to bet that Motor data looks a lot different than Mitchell data from a database point of view.

    But I’ve long thought that the appearance of the estimates produced, while it was pretty cool in 1995, could easily be updated–the fonts and format look old, and the jargon could be translated for the customer copy.

  11. Zerbst on Mon, 15th Dec 2008 12:29 am
  12. Bravo! i’m glad to see people finally getting tired of the corporate greed. you knew it was only a matter of time before these two were pi55ing thru the same blanket. these grubby jews will sell their mommas ditch for a nickle, if they can watch.

    i ditched CCC and went back to ADP. pathways is pathetic. would scramble my cdb at random, sheets missing all the time and always missing parts. hey, do you still lose phone #’s if you don’t hit enter? what a joke.

    JZ

  13. Dan F on Wed, 17th Dec 2008 6:06 pm
  14. Hey John,I haven’t read your column for a while,but I was bored and thought of NW so hear I am.I have 1 question for all the Insurance Adjusters out there…WHY DOESN’T SOMEONE OR SOME ORGANIZATION START A INSURANCE ADJUSTERS UNION????????Every other trade has one.

  15. Bob Isham on Wed, 24th Dec 2008 8:22 am
  16. Good read John but it’s probably a waste of time explaining anything to them.
    If you had gotten some stationary from one of the major insurers and wrote
    them a similar letter I am sure they would listen. Shortell from President of
    State Farm–what a great idea.

    It’s all about greed and they feel sucking up to the insurance folks is the path
    to success. All three of the major providers offer many little tricks and gimmicks
    that screw the shop owner. While I am zillions of miles from being any kind of
    computer guru I don’t have a problem spotting a dumb system that is built for
    the insurers.

    They have picked our pockets for decades and will continue in the years to
    come. If only the DOJ could smell the mess and unravel the conspiracy we
    would be able to move forward. What a neat Christmas present that would be.
    Oh Well- “visions of sugar plums”.

  17. Kenny Dooit on Thu, 10th Feb 2011 9:04 pm
  18. I think that C.C.C was a good company when they were known as Ezest Collision Estimating. Body shops were doing well and the industry was booming. Then came Pathways, The Unnecessary Tech bills, the billing fee’s and the Monopoly vision. They were more focused on satisfying their investors Swallowing companies and their greed. They used to be a Body Shops best friend, Then they realized that most of their money came from insurance companies. While Body Shops were paying a monthy fee for the software with promises of getting jobs sent to them for joining the DRP program. It was the Insurance companies that paid for Software license fee’s, Transmission charges every time a Preliminary Estimates and every supplements. When they send reps to local dealerships and Newspapers to collect data on current prices for vehicles on sale for their Total Loss products. Their reputation in the industry caused ripples in the industry when they made a list of the most stolen cars in America and finding prices and selecting a average price for insurance payoffs on total losses. They work for the insurance industry and not the body shops, I’m sure many of you know of many shops that went out of business because of the lowing of the total loss percentage being lowered. Insurance rather payout then repair cars leaving Insured customers left with out a car and unable to pay the Finance Gap left over. For many years they seen many shops install Updates that failed and forced Shops to hire tech for 150hr to repair what the update damaged. They blame it on Hardware, Windows Operating system or Server Software to avoid liability. You don’t believe me try getting credit on the monthly charges for the money you paid the tech in bills. While they give themselves raises and pat themselves on the back, they seem to forget where they came from and who their true investors were, But then that old C.C.C was owned by a Man, Now its public and they only care about investors and investors don’t want excuses just profits. They merge so they won’t have pay to use data from other competitor companies.

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