Nylund’s Collision Center has discovered evidence of a con game. Or is it the simple bungling and mishandling of the most basic element of our industry? You be the judge.
If ever you were to visit the streets of New York City, it is entirely possible that you could stumble across one of the oldest confidence games in history: Three Card Monte. Also known as “Find the Lady” or just the “Three Card Trick”, this is a con game in which the victim, or “mark” is tricked into betting a sum of money, on the assumption that they can find the “money card” among three face-down playing cards.
Three Card Monte is a classic con game in which a shill pretends to be helping the mark (customer) against the dealer, when in fact they are conspiring with the dealer to cheat the mark. The mark has no chance of winning at any point… but they just don’t know it.
What does this have to do with repairing vehicles, you might ask? Indeed… we might ask the same thing – until we recently received tangible evidence that either elaborately details the moves of a poorly executed con game… or professional ineptitude on a grand scale.
On August 10, 2018 a woman was involved in a collision, and she took her car to be inspected by a local ABRA Auto Body Repair shop. At the time, she was thinking that she would just pay for the repair herself, rather than running it through her insurance company. The ABRA estimator wrote an original estimate of $3,284.00 – and that it would take 5 days to repair.
Upon receiving the news of how much the repair order was going to be, she returned to ABRA and announced her intent to run the claim through her insurance company (State Farm). Another estimate was performed, and remarkably, it came in at $2,869.00. Of even greater concern was that this estimate anticipated 7 days to repair. That’s TWO DAYS longer… for a full $415 less than the original estimate!
This discrepancy brought the woman, and her vehicle to Nylund’s the very next day. We estimated the repair to cost $3,409.00 based upon our visual inspection of the damage. Our estimate was very close to the original ABRA estimate before the insurer had been named. We sent our estimate to State Farm, and they dispatched an area field representative (adjuster) to also write a good-faith estimate.
State Farm’s estimate was written for $2,536.00… $873 less than our estimate. $748 less than ABRA’s original estimate… and $333.00 less than ABRA’s second estimate!! Keep in mind that every one of the 4 estimators involved in this story have looked at exactly the same vehicle – in exactly the same condition. Nothing had been disassembled yet.
What kind of shell game is happening here? Either we are witnessing a complete and total lack of skill and ability across not one, but two “professional” service companies… or a possible coordinated scam against a “mark” – (the vehicle owner) in which the amount of money owed to repair the vehicle is 100% dependent upon who has to pay… and where it’s being repaired.
There’s only one right way to repair a vehicle… and whatever it costs – it costs. This is why people pay insurance premiums month after month… so that on the day they need to have their car repaired, the money will be there. The idea of who is paying, or who is repairing the vehicle changing the amount of money that a repair will cost is nothing short of bad-faith in action… and possibly evidence of a con game in action.
If it seems that our assertion is just a little far-fetched, let’s take a look at the relationship between ABRA and State Farm. Turns out that ABRA is contractually connected to State Farm by way of their Direct Repair Program (DRP). This may explain the discrepancy between the first and second estimates provided to the vehicle owner in our story. Once it was known who was going to have to pay (State Farm)… the estimate dropped 13%.
According to the May 30th, 2018 article written by John Huetter of Repairer Driven News, ABRA repair facilities have been given the #1 ranking in nearly every one of it’s markets across the country. The article goes on to document an unnamed MSO manager as saying, “There’s some monkeying going on with the numbers” [between State Farm and ABRA].
Have we uncovered documented proof of a con game? Is ABRA conspiring with State Farm to cheat the mark (the customer)? Or is it possible that 3 different appraisers simply came up with increasingly lower estimates – and the fact that the payer and subsequent repairer became known had absolutely nothing to do with the differences? We’ll let you decide.
Nylund’s Collision Center is not under ANY DRP contract with ANY insurance company. We prefer to run our business with integrity and consistency. We provide accurate good-faith estimates to each and every one of our guests – 100% of the time. We do not change the value of our estimates based upon who is going to pay. We do not use substandard or aftermarket parts… ever.
The woman in the story above will receive the correct repair. This is how we do it – every time. This is what we call, #NYLUNDSDONE, and if it isn’t perfect… it isn’t leaving.