Thursday, 29 January 2009 11:47

SCRS Director Schulenburg Writes Open Letter to CCC re Overlap

Dear Mr. Dickens,
As a long time user of Pathways, I am writing to express my outrage in your company's decision to reintroduce the option for a prompt to take overlap deductions when refinishing bumpers in the 4.5 release of your product. When asked to compromise your product by providing biased and unrealistic estimating options that do not account for actual repair processes, every Information Provider has one of two choices; Yes, or no. Needless to say, I join the majority of the industry in my disappointment at the choice that CCC made.

    In your recent Dialogue at the Collision Industry Conference in Scottsdale, AZ you clearly stated that "With the 4.5 release, just to be clear, we're not turning on the bumper prompt. The bumper prompt remains off. What we are doing is facilitating the ability for somebody to turn it on." As I am sure you are aware, that facilitation equates to unilateral decisions made by some insurers, likely the same ones who pressured you to add back in the prompt, to mandate that their field appraisers and contracted shops utilize this cost minimizing "option" to reduce claims payouts to consumers. Facilitating this type of behavior with unnecessary product enhancements not only encourages misuse of your product but it provides a platform for intentional estimate inaccuracies, or fraud.   
    Additionally, the simple fact that this change can occur without some form of designation that a deviation to the proper methodology took place is extremely disturbing to me. As you well know, anytime we alter a database time, the line is marked with an asterisk to bring our attention to the deviation - regardless of the reasoning behind it.
    My expectation from my information vendor is that the manufacturer recommendation and the majority of the market's practices will dictate the repair processes and what should be considered as the "common" repair methodology. Instead CCC is choosing to pander to the lowest common denominator in the industry and basing platform "enhancements" on what only "25 out of 100" shops are supposedly doing, regardless of manufacturer recommendations.  Through this approach, CCC has adopted a mentality that what is possible is more important than what is practical or appropriate. Bruce Yungkans stated "It's perfectly acceptable to use the same clear coat on both a flexible part and a sheet metal part so long as you meet all the requirements of a flexible part. It's a common and acceptable practice."  At our facility, like most others, we do use the same clear coat on both flexible and rigid panels; however the preparation process and additive process vary greatly from one substrate type to the next. Applying flex additives and application processes intended for use on flexible panels to all substrates is theoretically possible, but not practical in a production environment. While the entire industry is looking at efforts to decrease cycle times and minimize true repair costs, CCC is applying options that would require drastically increased dry times and the expenditure of additional unnecessary materials. Analogously, I can drive to Florida from Virginia by going through Maine, but why would I?  
    What is most bothering to me personally, and I believe to the industry at large, is that after 4 long years of working on this issue and bringing it to "unequivocal" resolution, CCC almost immediately began working on undermining those efforts with the implementation of this new option. Instead of moving your focus on to other much needed areas of enhancement within your product to help generate more accurate estimates, CCC chose to find another manner to keep the 'prompt' alive. As you know, if this remains an "option" in your system, the result will remain exactly as it did the first time CCC implemented the prompt; lower estimate values that don't correspond to the repair performed.  
    As a current customer I would ask that the prompt option once again be removed from your estimating platform. At the very least, if CCC is in fact interested in their product being used to generate fair and accurate estimates and not as a tool for widespread claims reduction, I would request that CCC specifically outline in your product what repair scenarios, and with what products, is it acceptable to apply the prompt. That would allow a clear and unyielding definition on when this prompt is appropriate to use thus reducing the opportunity to apply the prompt without the proper considerations.
    Especially in a time that your company is under such scrutiny from not only the collision industry, but the FTC as well, I hope that you and CCC take the concerns you receive to heart and choose to do the right thing in the interest of accuracy.
SCRS Admin Executive Director:
Aaron Schulenburg