The Counterfeit Parts Business is Thriving Again.

April 5, 2005 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

One of my many hobbies is collecting American antiques. I love the look and the history of early American furniture. If you?re careful, collecting antiques can be a great investment too. Being careful means knowing true antiques in original condition from counterfeits and poorly restored junk. Knowing how to spot a fake or reproduction can keep you from wasting money on something that?s pretty much worthless. A $50,000 highboy with replaced brass drawer pulls and a replaced leg can easily loose 75% of its value. Being in original condition means everything. If you had an eighteenth century mirror, and you broke the glass, replacing the glass with a new piece from your local Home Depot would ruin the value of the antique. However, if you replace it with an authentic piece of eighteenth century glass the value would remain intact. In other words, putting aftermarket parts on a valuable antique destroys its value.

Despite the stigma and the common knowledge that aftermarket body parts are crap and depreciate the value of the vehicle they are installed on (except for when they bring an old piece of junk back to life), Keystone and other aftermarket parts resellers are thriving. Some of you are using this crap way too much. Those of you who are Nationwide Blue Ribbon shops know exactly who I?m talking too.

And despite State Farm?s loss of a class action lawsuit for pushing aftermarket parts, some insurance companies have turned up their efforts to ensure that every one of their customers experience the joy of having cheap, counterfeit parts depreciate the value of their vehicles. State Farm has learned from their loss, and they have turned it around to their advantage. They?ve stopped pushing counterfeit parts?for how long no one knows. Allstate now has a disclaimer on their estimates telling customers that aftermarket parts are great but if you don?t want them just let us know and we?ll pay for OEM. And I?ve seen billboard advertisements from insurers (exactly which ones escapes me at this moment) bragging that they will only pay for OEM parts.

Anyone who?s used counterfeit parts knows that some of them fit fine, and most fit as well as Michael Jackson in a second grade classroom. This is debated all the time. But it?s not really a debate. It?s simply objective people arguing with those whose heads are deeply implanted in their backsides. Many are forced to justify their ignorance, stupidity or whore-like behavior by defending the use of counterfeit parts to repair their customers? vehicles. They actually convince themselves that counterfeit parts are good for the industry, good for the customer, good for a ?competitive market.?

?But they?re CAPA certified!? CAPA CRAPA. How many of you have visited their website? Let me tell you, it?s a real eye opener. The site is http://capacertified.org. Check it out. On the left of the screen is a menu. Scroll down and click on ?Updates.? On the updates page, scroll to the bottom. There you will find the ?Monthly Recalls.? Holy Crap. How many of you who regularly use CRAPA parts are aware of all these recalls or decertifications? Hundreds of parts have been decertified or recalled in the past few months. Are you still installing these parts on your customers? cars?

The real question is, does it make any difference whether the part is CRAPA certified or not? Is there really a difference or is CAPA certification just a marketing gimmick? A few years ago Consumer Reports tested some of these counterfeit parts. Amazingly, they weren?t impressed. Gee what a surprise.

Anyone?s who?s been paying attention to our industry knows that CAPA has had some problems in the past. Jack Gillis, head aftermarket part pusher, is a loyal defender of his little cabal of commie, pinko, Chinese parts manufactures, insurance industry contributors and, yes, even and handful of body shops. I bet you didn?t know that some body shops have actually signed up for membership. Isn?t that sweet?

CAPA?s troubles and the very public failure of many of their certified parts has left a bad taste in the mouths of many insures (and that?s a real feat considering the manure they?re used to spewing) so they have spawned another protector of public interest which bears the elegant acronym, MQVP. MQVP stands for Manufacturers? Qualification and Validation Program. Anyone who?s ever whored for Nationwide Insurance (myself included) is familiar with MQVP. Their aim is the same, their participants are the same, and their parts are the same. Parts is parts, and when an insurance industry is influencing the commie part certification business with their money, you can be sure of the outcome.

Even if CAPA and MQVP could ensure these parts were equal to OEM in function and appearance it is still ripping off the consumer. These parts are counterfeits. I heard the argument that car owners have been happily purchasing aftermarket parts for a century. Sure, spark plugs, water pumps, tires, brake linings, most of us purchase these items from the aftermarket industry. What?s wrong with an aftermarket fender or hood or headlight?

Psychology is what?s wrong. Most of us do a damn good job of repairing wrecks. But even if we did a perfect job, there is a psychological depreciation to any damaged vehicle. Let?s take a situation. You are looking for a used car. You find an ad in your local newspaper and go look at the car. The owner tells you he just replaced the timing belt and water pump. You think, Great! That?s one inevitable expense out of the way. Then the owner tells you he just put four new tires on the car. Great again. There?s $400 you won?t need to spend.

You decide you want to look at another car before you make a decision. You drive across town and meet with the car?s owner. He tells you he just had a new fender installed. Huh? Why? Was the car in an accident? It sure as hell didn?t wear out.

Comparing aftermarket body parts to aftermarket mechanical parts creates a false premise. The argument can?t be made. The comparison can?t be made. New mechanical parts increase the psychological value of a vehicle. New body parts decrease the psychological value. Mechanical parts are expected to wear out. Body parts don?t need replacing unless the vehicle has been damaged. To further illustrate the psychological impact collision damage has to vehicle value, consider this. You decide neither of the used vehicles you just looked at suits your needs. You visit your local dealer. The dealer has two vehicles exactly like you want, the same make, model, color, year, mileage etc. Both vehicles are the same price. They both are in like new condition. However, the dealer, being an honest dealer, tells you that one of the cars had been in an accident and had been repaired. It doesn?t take a government committee to decide which vehicle you?d buy. Any normal thinking person would choose the undamaged vehicle. If the dealer lowered the price on the repaired car you might consider it. But for the same price, it?s an easy choice. The vehicle could have been repaired perfectly, but the psychological effect devalues that car in your mind. This is indisputable. Not even Jack Gillis, head cheerleader for CAPA, could convince you otherwise.

Now let?s assume the dealer told you both vehicles were repaired. They both were involved in similar accidents. Nationwide insured one of the vehicles and it was repaired with aftermarket parts. The other was insured with Amica and all OEM parts were used in the repair. Both vehicles look great. Again, the logical choice for any rational person would be the vehicle repaired using only OEM parts. A collision damaged vehicle has less value that an undamaged car, and a car repaired with counterfeit parts has less value than a car repaired with OEM parts.

There is nothing you can do about the loss of value due to the accident as long as you repair the car properly. It will lose value. But if you install counterfeit parts on the car you are actively contributing to the additional, and unnecessary, loss of value caused by the use of non-original parts. Unless your customer has asked for aftermarket parts to save his car from total loss, you are conspiring with the insurance company to steal money (lost value is money) from your customer.

For those of you still not convinced that using counterfeit parts is ripping off your customers think about this. Your wife?s diamond engagement ring is insured through your homeowners insurance. She loses it. Your insurance company offers to replace it with a cubic zirconium ring. It looks identical. Only a jeweler could tell the difference. Would you accept it? How about a manmade diamond? These are identical in composition to natural diamonds but cost less. Would you accept one of these? The insurance company guarantees that the imitation will look and function identically to your original diamond. Does this make your wife feel any better?

Even if you graduated from a government school, you should still be able to understand that counterfeits and imitations are worth less than the original. Any reputable antiques dealer will offer a lifetime guarantee on the authenticity of any item you buy. In other words, if he (I assume it?s a he because I?m a male chauvinist pig) sells you an eighteenth century chair and tells you that it is entirely original, and you then take it to the Antiques Roadshow only to have some guy with a serious sexual identity crisis tell you that one of the legs have been replaced, and the chair is only worth one third what you paid for it, embarrassing you on national television in front of millions of people, that dealer will take that chair back and give you a full refund.

Antiques dealers depend on their reputations as experts. People need to be assured that they are really buying what the dealer is representing the item to be, that they are not being sold a counterfeit or a repaired item when they are told it is completely original. It?s that reputation that keeps customers coming to their shops. It?s that reputation that keeps them in business. Sound familiar?

Nationwide Blue Ribbon shops, how?s your conscious?

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Comments

7 Comments on The Counterfeit Parts Business is Thriving Again.

  1. Nick Scheid on Tue, 5th Apr 2005 5:40 pm
  2. At first, after reading your comments I was initially upset with your generalizations and analogies, however I respect your right to an opinion.
    If you truly understood all the manufacturing processes involved with OEM service body parts you would see they are often built with less quality than the AM parts. The problem is when the OE part is bad you have no choice so you make it fit.
    The real problem with your whole point is that this exact frame of thought could eventually KILL the independent repairer industry. Using your exact example of two identical cars being in a similar collision, one being repaired by the dealer and the other by an independent, which one will the consumer buy? Is the independent repairer also "aftermarket" or "counterfit"?
    AM parts have many issues, I agree, but if all the independent industry members do not work together, then the OEM’s will have their utopia: "Craddle to the Grave" control of the auto industry and we will all be looking for new lines of work.

  3. Let's compare one more thing... on Wed, 6th Apr 2005 8:51 am
  4. While we are at it let’s compare one more senerio. Two cars identical. One has been repaired but is $500.00 to $1,000.00 less. The shop used OEM parts. Which one would I buy? The unrepaired one even though it costs more. Why? The vehicle still has the possibility of having some hidden flaws. Proven fact. Do I even ask if a brake pad or oil filter is OEM? NO. Because if the car runs and tests fine then it’s probably fine. Same with body parts. However, you are correct that SOME aftermarket parts fit like sh_t. If I look at a car and the parts don’t fit well I won’t buy it EVEN if it’s has OEM parts and I’ve had just as many OEM parts not fit as AM parts.

  5. Another fact on Thu, 7th Apr 2005 10:29 am
  6. I’m not looking to bad mouth or bash anyone here, but from an appraisers point of view, I can say with certainty that some shops don’t use Aftermarket parts for profit reasons only. I have no issue with a shop trying to make money, but don’t lie to a customer and tell them the parts are crap and don’t fit when your just concerned about your pocket book. Obviously a shop stands to make more profit on a $250 OEM part vs. the same $100 Aftermarket part. I admit that I have seen some poor aftermarket parts, but I have also had shops openly admit that some Aftermarket parts actually fit better than the OEM. One last point, it’s always amazing how some shops will bend over backwards and practically beg to use Aftermarket or LKQ on a borderline total loss when times are slow. It seems as though profit means nothing when shop volume is down!

  7. Ron Pollitt on Wed, 13th Apr 2005 1:09 pm
  8. I for one certainly think you hit the nail on the head! I have been in this business for 30 some years and have seen very few aftermarket parts that fit or worse,are even close to quality, weight or anything else. I hate to use them but really feel as though I have little or no choice. I have used the same diamond/cubic zurconium to try to explain to my customers the difference, but when they call their insurance company they’re told the same old B/S. Maybe if some of the CEO’s,V.P’s and such would take a little less of there millions per years or bennies they wouldn’t have to cheat there customers.

  9. Profits on Thu, 28th Apr 2005 2:51 pm
  10. Yes, loss of profits using AM parts is rarely mentioned, but honestly, should be. Profit is generally cut in half with generally more work to use the part. And in 26 years of doing this, I have never, ever heard someone say and AM part fits better than an OE part! Maybe 1 of 100 OE parts give trouble, but often times it’s the preperation of the repaired vehicle that’s lacking. I ask an insurance company who will cover my labor and material costs if they insist on AM parts. If they tell me they’ll fit, I tell them I’ll treat them as an OE part and that means prepping it, priming it, and edging it in BEFORE I fit it to the vehicle. Then if it doesn’t fit, they can pay twice the R/I labor, the edging time and materials. No, my OE supplier probably wouldn’t do that, but my OE part will fit. And to address the independent repair facility VS the dealer, we all use the same parts. So we’re in no way counterfeit. All this brings to the forefront the diminished value so many are pushing for. You hit it on the head with which car would you likely buy.

  11. Wrenchhed on Sun, 27th May 2007 11:59 pm
  12. Anyone know anything about this.

    Been doing a lot of research because we’re all getting ripped off by the insurance companies using counterfeit aftermarket parts on our repairs. this is illegal isn’t it? America is getting ripped off by the taiwan tin makers and domestic distributors.

    Anybody hear on the street lately whats been going on with low quality parts and uncertified parts. Im not talking about aftermarket performance parts and mods, but repairs on cars after an accident where OEM parts may or may not be used. Lots of lawsuits going on in the industry where our nations largest parts suppliers and insurance companies are ripping off body shops and policy holders. These distributors are backed by the trickery of the insurance companies helping to passing off parts mis-representing them to be high quality, when they absolutely know they are not. is it just about the sale? now with the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Association agency recalls on safety parts, these guys are “failing” to bring the data to the table.., they know they sold huge amounts of knock off parts .

    Basically, MQVP is on the frontline!. This industries first stand up company fighting this multi decade old practice. distributors and insurance companies are trying to push them out of business so that they don’t come to the table with the data that will expose and prove these companies of the years and years of fraud. by the way, with google you will find that they also won 7 recent lawsuits regarding this issue, the ones currently entangled in the current suits are the ones who turned those 7 in. what doesnt make sense about that one? does it get any better? oh yeah!

    take a look at their latest victory in whats being called A Landmark decision in the United States Court of Appeals.

    im finding that bodyshops all over the nation are starting to receive these notices . http://mqvp.com/download/mqvp-warning.pdf

    Sure makes you wonder whats going on doesn’t it?

    this was also in the newspaper today : http://www.wiserdrivers.com

    has anyone else felt they had illegitimate parts installed recently?
    what gets me, is that the insurance company executives know it.

    http://www.abrn.com/abrn/article/articleDetai
    http://www.automotivedigest.com/view_art.asp?…
    http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articlepri
    http://www.ciia.com/provinces/ontario/novembe
    http://www.abrn.com/abrn/article/articleDetai
    http://www.bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/?p

    Counterfeiters exposed —people need to google keywords MQVP + Counterfeits + keystone + lawsuits

    http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=26

    Be safe out there!

  13. Wrenchhed on Tue, 24th Jul 2007 10:24 am
  14. Greetings All,

    anyone notice one of the countries second largest counterfeiters just acquired the countries largest counterfeiting distributor? LKQ bought Keystone just last week. it looks like they stole the company, not a good price for Keystone at all. could it have been because of the trouble Keystone is in with MQVP and their mega lawsuits.

    My search engines just spotted this new page change on the MQVP.com website. They have a consumer safety advisory up. Interesting.

    Stay safe out there.

    http://www.mqvp.com

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