Field of Vision
from the editor
The Typical Consumer
by Penny Beverage
Not just once, but twice in two years, that’s right—once a year for the last two of the three I’ve owned my car—my windshield has been broken. The last time, it was repairable. This time, I wasn’t so lucky. A rock hit it on my daily drive to work on I-95 North (again), and, by the time I went to my car at lunchtime on a hot day in August, I had a 15-inch crack right across the driver’s side.
Of course, being like any other cheap consumer, I put off getting it fixed until it came time to get my car inspected at the end of October. Knowing it had to be fixed to pass inspection, I finally visited a local auto glass shop on Friday, October 24, just before making a trip to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for a friend’s wedding.
Well, I’ve read all the stories; I’ve written half of them for our annual AGRSS issue and I know the importance of safety over price when it comes to an auto glass installation. And yet, I’m still a typical consumer. Days before I was about to call my preferred shop, I received a coupon in the mail: “Get your windshield replaced for only $100*!” (Next to the star, it added that depending on your deductible, it could cost $150.)
With a $250 deductible and on a tight budget, this sounded like a wonderful option to me. I knew the safety was iffy, but, hey, it saved a buck, right?
I don’t know if that was such a good thing or not. I arrived at the shop at 1:30 p.m. and had made arrangements for my fiancé to meet me there so I wouldn’t have to wait for my car to be done. He came at 1:45 p.m., thinking 15 minutes was more than enough time for me to make the necessary phone calls to my insurance company with the customer service representative (CSR) from the glass shop on hand. Sadly, at 2:10 p.m. I was still on the phone—the insurer’s computer system was down, so the CSR had to take everything down by hand, and even after 30 minutes, was unable to give me a claim number.
But I digress—I’ll discuss the innards of this insurance ordeal another time. Today’s column is about safety.
Needless to say, the people at the shop were wonderfully nice and helpful, and I was able to pick my car up in a short hour. But here’s the scary part. Being the auto glass nerd that I am, I asked, “Can I drive my car right away?” Because, let’s face it, time is limited and we’re all on busy schedules—I was leaving right after it was finished for the wedding in North Carolina.
“Yes, of course—just leave the orange tape on the corners for the next 24 hours,” the friendly CSR replied.
Well, I didn’t feel so good about this—knowing that unless they were a terribly up-to-date shop and had some extra-fast-curing adhesives on hand, it’s unlikely that this advice was correct, and even then I would have had to wait at least an hour. I should have been a super (but safe) nerd and asked what kind of adhesives they used, but I was on a schedule, so I took their advice in stride and left for my trip.
Fortunately, I made it through the next two hours without having an accident, so I’m hoping that even if the urethane wasn’t fast-cure, I should be OK now. But one has to wonder, if shops are telling people it’s OK to drive right away when it’s not, what else are they doing that’s wrong? Did the technician wear gloves when he carried my glass? I have no idea. Did he inspect for corrosion and, if he found any, did he treat it properly? Again, I have no idea. Was my windshield installed in such a way not to compromise the structural integrity of the car if I am in an accident? I really don’t know.
And what’s even scarier is that I’m an informed consumer; I work in the industry. Most have no idea to even think about these things. I felt like a 20/20 reporter, and yet, neither I nor 20/20 can visit every shop and check to see if they’re using safe practices.
This all just reinforced in my mind how important it is that we all—you and me both, included—do all we can to tell everyone we can about the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS). You guys know all about it—you read AGRR. But let’s face it, not all shops care to keep up with the latest industry issues and some have never even heard of AGRSS.
So, please, tell your competitors about the Standard; tell your friends; tell your customers; and sign up yourself. With windshields like mine breaking once a year, your services are obviously needed—but by telling others about the standard (and registering yourself) you can do your own part to make a safer world, full of consumers even more typical than myself.
For more info about the AGRSS standard, visit www.agrss.com, and tell your customers about www.safewindshields.com, AGRSS’s new consumer website. I’ll look forward to seeing your name in the next roster in our May/June 2004 issue—our annual, official safety issue.
See you soon.
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