An auto glass company based in Tampa, Fla., is under scrutiny after an Orlando television station investigated the door-to-door tactics marketing its services.
DNS Auto Glass was the subject of WFTV9’s recent report on consumer complaints of high-pressure sales pitches by so-called “glass harvesters,” salespeople who promise a “free windshield” while trying to persuade car owners to file a claim for windshield replacement despite minimal damage.
WFTV9 interviewed a woman who said a DNS representative showed up at her house, told her that her windshield was damaged and then tried to persuade her to sign the paperwork. She told WFTV9 that he was so persistent that she became suspicious.
The company’s contract included fine print explaining assignment of benefits, or AOB, which meant the glass company would take over the woman’s claim and could sue her insurance company for payment, according to WFTV9. It’s a practice that insurance experts say drives up repair bills and legal costs because the insurance companies have no way of knowing whether the windshield is damaged or not, so they’re forced to pay the price that the contractor is asking for.
According to Florida’s Department of Financial Services, auto glass companies filed 19,695 lawsuits against insurers in 2016. That’s up from 1,389 lawsuits in 2012.
Florida is one of five states known as a “zero deductible state.” Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts and South Carolina all require insurers to pay for windshield replacement at no cost to customers with comprehensive coverage. This makes the states fertile hunting grounds for glass harvesters.
DNS Auto Glass responded to the WFTV9 report by saying independent contractors sell its services and the company has practices in place to guard against unnecessary replacements.
This isn’t the first time DNS Auto Glass has been forced to defend itself after questions were raised about the tactics and practices of independent contractors marketing its services. In May 2012, TV station WAVE 3 aired a hidden-camera investigation that examined a questionable claim filing at the DNS Auto Glass location in Louisville, Ky. In response, DNS owner Jeff Searles said no claim was ever filed and the salesperson in the video wasn’t on the company rosters.
Jacqui Barrineau is a contributing writer for glassBYTEs.com