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May/June  2004

Independent’s Day
    an iga viewpoint

At the Heart of the Matter
by Tim Smale


I recently saw the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy and noticed many analogies between the films and the challenges facing independents in the auto glass industry. In one of the most heart-felt and passionate scenes of all three movies, a strong plea is made by the Hobbits to fight a battle for freedom, which was said to always be a righteous cause. This caused me to reflect on how this theme applies to independents in our industry.

A fight is defined as “an act of actively opposing or combat or to gain by struggle”, and leaders throughout history have been called to fight, especially in a fight for freedom. As I researched this topic, four major themes of a righteous fight became apparent to me.

First, leaders in righteous battles are uniquely situated and called to their mission. It is more than simply being at the right place at the right time. Leaders that are in this position have a calling that might be called a divine appointment and purpose for their mission. Secondly, many others have stood behind the leader and supported the cause. Thirdly, the circumstances surrounding the fight are supportive of the effort, even seemingly against all odds. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there must be a moral obligation or duty to perform the mission.
I believe that there is an analogy between the problems that independents in our industry are facing and the role the IGA plays. We have already been in the fray for quite some time, and have taken a stand with independents against short payments, underpayments, safety, and alleged steering. In fact, the investigation into alleged steering has reached a new level by Safelite’s actions against the IGA in the steering lawsuit between Diamond Triumph and Safelite. We see this as a righteous battle because the most common problem I hear about from our members is alleged steering, and we will not back down until we learn the truth. Hundreds of glass shops have sent the IGA reports documenting alleged steering incidents where they feel a network might have interfered with their ability to get an auto glass job.

Four issues are repeated continually in these reports. The top two complaints appear to be that the consumer reportedly was told that if they went to a particular glass shop, the consumer might have to pay out of pocket costs, or that they would not be covered by warranty. The next most frequently reported issue seemed to be that consumers were reportedly told that the shop they selected were not on the “approved” or “preferred” list, even if they were in fact on these lists. We have received reports that consumers were reportedly told to use 
a particular glass shop. Finally, we received many reports that indicated that the independent glass shop received written approval from the network, and showed up to the do the job and a competitor glass shop was either in the process of doing the job or had already completed the work.

The IGA welcomes the opportunity for the facts to be heard regarding alleged steering, and want to see these practices, if they are indeed occurring, stopped. On behalf of independents everywhere, we work tirelessly to see a day when customers cannot be directed away from independent auto glass retailers with seemingly inaccurate statements.

If you are an independent glass retailer employee or owner and feel that you or your customer has been victimized by alleged steering, I urge you to contact us at the IGA’s website (www.iga.org) or contact me directly by e-mail at tim@iga.org. Just as the Lord of the Rings movies stirred me about just what a fight for freedom is all about, so, too, I hope you join the IGA in getting to the heart of the alleged steering. 

AGRR

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