Insight Into a Typical Consumer's Thought Process
Working for AGRR magazine, the glassBYTEs.com newsletter, and Key Communications
Inc. in general, has afforded me the luxury of learning about the auto
glass industry with many knowledgeable people to guide me along the way.
From writing for and about the industry, I am familiar with the problems
inherent to the industry and I get to hear both sides to every argument.
Not everyone is so lucky.
Recently, I received an email from my best friend. I'll call her "Renee"
(not her real name). After responding to a question I had asked her and
a continued conversation about Christmas presents, she mentioned that
her windshield had gotten cracked while driving recently and asked for
advice on what to do. I responded via email, but called her that night
as well, to advise her to the best of my ability for handling the situation.
I started by trying to get a feel for the kind of break she had.
I asked if the break was longer than a dollar bill, where it was in relation
to her rearview mirror. I even asked when the break had occurred and what
the weather had been since then (the day prior to our conversation, and
overcast but no substantial precipitation, if you care to know). I told
her it might be repairable and suggested she make some phone calls to
see if she could have someone let her know. I walked her through what
happens with a repair, the removal of any contaminants and the injection
of resin into the break. I explained what would prevent the break from
being repairable. When I got done with all of that, she said with a smile
in her voice, "Brigid, you just made my day. I thought my only option
was to have it replaced."
To help Renee along, I told her to visit the NWRA website and see if there
were any NWRA members in her area and to include them in her phone calls.
The next morning, when I got to work, I hopped online and looked up the
site myself. I found five NWRA members in her state but only one that
I knew was in the same town (I don't know much about the geography of
her state). I emailed her the link to the member list.
A few hours later I received the following response:
"I was also told to try the guys at the mall who are repairing window
chips for free. Someone told me that they deal with the insurance company
over the cost and that most insurance companies would [rather] have you
go through one of them than pay for a total window replacement later.
So, I figured I would drive up the mall and see what the guy in the tent
has to say, as well."
Now, I don't know who told her to try the guys at the mall. I didn't get
that far in asking. Without hesitation, I wrote back in all caps, "DON'T
GO THERE (to the guy at the mall)!" because I didn't know anything
about who they were or the quality of their work.
With equal swiftness came her response.
Why ever not?
I think I told everyone in my office about her emails. Everyone had the
same reaction. One person asked if maybe she was kidding, but I elected
to err on the side of caution and, once my heart stopped its freefall,
I wrote her back to explain that, at the very least, a guy at the mall
could pack up and leave the state without ever leaving proof that he'd
ever done business with her. What would happen if the repair failed?
I also pointed out that if her insurance covers windshield repair, they'd
cover it no matter who did the repair-and if the insurance didn't cover
it, the guy at the mall wouldn't be able to get them to pay any more than
a legitimate windshield repair company would. Telling Renee that she was
scaring me, I told her that even if she didn't use an NWRA member shop,
she could at least humor me and call several glass shops, as many do both
repair and replacement. I gave her the safewindshields.com website address,
explained how to use the shop finder feature to look up companies by zip
code and told her that shops listed there AGRSS registered for replacement
but might also do repair. I also found the glassBYTES.com story my boss,
Deb Levy, wrote about her experience at the "free windshield repair"
tent over Labor Day weekend and emailed that link to her, too.
Luckily, by bombarding Renee with information, I either changed her mind
or at least made her want to get me off her back; that afternoon I receive
an email from her telling me not to panic and that wouldn't go to the
guy at the mall. The next morning I had an email from her saying she had
spoken with one of the NWRA member companies-who was also on her insurance
company's "preferred vendor" list-and had an appointment for
the tech to come look at her car that day.
Renee's been my best friend for nearly 10 years now and I have the utmost
respect for her. She's college educated with a Masters' Degree and served
in the U.S. Army for five years, including a tour of Iraq. She's not some
16-year-old kid who just got her license and knows nothing about the world.
She's not one who can be duped or scammed by fast-talkers; but she is
the average consumer. And that's exactly why I'm relating this story to
This is what the industry is up against-the need to educate the average
consumer, to inform them of what they should look for, and more importantly,
what they should look out for, when having any sort of work done on their
windshield or any auto glass.
- By Brigid O'Leary